Protection of Speech and Press

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When our Constitution was officially ratified in 1788, within it were ten amendments that are known as the Bill of Rights. These amendments assure the people that the government cannot make any inadequate proceedings against them as long as they are stated in both the Constitution and Bill of rights. One of the most controversial and called upon amendments is the First Amendment, which states, “Congress cannot make any law establishing a religion or abridging freedoms of religious exercise, speech, assembly, or petition (Ginsberg, Lowi and Weir). “

One reason as to why it has been utilized various time is because many people believe that they can say, write, or publish whatever they’d like and not get reprimanded by it. However, there are some cases where this does not hold true. The government has managed to define different styles of speech and press (political, fight words and hate, student, commercial, libel and slander ) and gave each a different extent of protection.

The type of speech that has by far the most protection is political speech. Political speech is language that discusses government affairs that are of concern or pertain to the public, including comments that deprecate and insult the government. Political speech can only be restricted is if it is “inciting or producing imminent lawless actions (Ginsberg, Lowi and Weir).” considered There have been many cases where political speech has been called into play. The first contemporary cases dates back to the early 20th century. Due to the federal Espionage Act of 1917, a person was convicted for contradicting the involvement of the U.S. in World War I. The defendant’s speech was not protected. The court deemed his speech a danger to national security, for he was telling draftees to resist the draft.

Another kind of speech is fighting words and hate speech. Fighting words “direct incitement of damaging conduct (Ginsberg, Lowi and Weir).” In other words, fighting words are considered words that cause any type of harm or disrupt the peace. One such case in 1942 sustained this judgement in the Supreme Court, when a man insulted a police officer. Said man was arrested and convicted for breaking the state law that banned belligerent language in public. The reason the Supreme Court maintained the conviction is because it didn’t consider those insults necessary to share ideas. However, he Supreme Court soon overturned almost all cases that dealt with fighting words, only to begin to take fighting words more seriously again in recent years, in support of women and minorities.

Moreover, student speech is actually more restricted than initially thought. Various courts, including the Supreme Court, have permitted the punishment of high school students due to making a sexually suggestive speech and endorsing the use of illegal drugs. The reasoning behind this is that students these types of speech hinder the educational system’s goal of educating students on the boundaries of socially acceptable conduct. The Court even went as far as not valuing student speech at the same degree of that of adult speech in a public setting.

Additionally, commercial speech is also not as protected as one may believe, due to the fact that it is not considered political speech. Commercials must follow certain regulations such not misleading consumers with false information and advertisements, as well as allow the city ordinance to ban the posting of marketable signs on municipal property. On the hand, in most cases that have tried to charge various advertisements and articles published have failed, for the Supreme Court has ruled most to be protected by the First Amendment.

Similarly, freedom of press some restrictions. The freedom of is protected from prior restraint, “an effort by a governmental agency to block the publication of material it deems libelous or harmful in some other way (Ginsberg, Lowi and Weir)”, except in rare cases. One of these cases being that CNN couldn’t release tapes of Manuel Noriega, a former dictator of Panama, speaking with his lawyer due to the tapes being evidence in a case that was at the time active.

However, even though there are many restrictions that can be applied to the First Amendment, it is still a fundamental part to our society. It allows people to share and communicate ideas without fear, as well as allow the press to inform citizens of the latest events and information that could be vital in helping citizens make decisions such as voting for candidates. Thus, enhancing our democratic government.

All in all, I believe that the amount of free speech that is allowed at this point is the appropriate amount, and the restrictions created by the Supreme Court are necessary. For, there are many people that can and will abuse that freedom to inflict harm on other, as well as say or report false and irrational thing that could misinformation the public.

Cite this paper

Protection of Speech and Press. (2021, Nov 18). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/protection-of-speech-and-press/

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