chklt_freesp_100: Free Speech & Expression

It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The Constitution's framers believed that freedom of inquiry and free expression were the hallmarks of a democratic society. But historically, at times of national stress — real or imagined — First Amendment rights come under enormous pressure. During the Red Scare of the early 1920s, thousands were deported for their political views.

During the McCarthy period, the infamous blacklist ruined lives and careers. Today, the creators, producers and distributors of popular culture are being blamed for the nation's deep social problems. Calls for censorship threaten to erode free speech.

The First Amendment exists precisely to protect the most offensive and controversial speech from government suppression. The best way to counter obnoxious speech is with more speech. Persuasion, not coercion, is the solution.

Legal Cases

Legislative Efforts




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