Judicially Created Exceptions to Free Expression

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The First Amendment is not absolute; our speech is not totally free. For decades, the Supreme Court has recognized that certain words, by their very nature, have no social value whatsoever, and can be banned or the speaker can be punished for using them, like shouting fire (falsely) in a crowded theater, or defamatory words that injure the victim, or "fighting words," or words that "pose a clear and present danger," or words that are used when someone defrauds his victim, or words that are obscene and uttered on FCC controlled public airways; governmental actions that regulate the time, place and manner of speech have also been permissible. But also, in the past two decades, the Court has created other areas where First Amendment protection is not extended to commercial speech, to "government speech," to public employees expressing opinions in public, to "government subsidized" speech, or to restrictions on judicial pubic and campaign speech. However, the Supreme Court has recently decided a major free speech case (Matel v. Tam), that has brought into question the validity of any governmental controls on the content of non-obscene or non-defamatory speech.


Total Hours
Constitutional Law Hours