Favorite Freedom

Fast Facts about the First Amendment!

E for Everyone

  1. The First Amendment was first applied to the states through the 14th Amendment in Gitlow v. New York (1925).
  2. Palko v. Connecticut (1937) identified freedom of though as the unifying theme of all the First Amendment guarantees.
  3. The First Amendment limits the government's control of expression, so a private online service or newspaper may censor speech and information however it wishes.
  4. The First Amendment was not the first one listed on the original Bill of Rights. Because the original first and second amendments were not ratified, the amendment regarding freedom of expression moved up to become the first on the list.
  5. The First Amendment does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general.
  6. The right to associate also prohibits the government from requiring a group to register or disclose its members and forbids the government to deny benefits on the basis of an individual's current or past membership in a particular group.
  7. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government and to state governments even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress.
  8. The state cannot punish you or remove you for shouting obscene things at a sporting event.
  9. As long as a song or story does not just repeat the original, parodies are protected by the First Amendment.
  10. Books can be removed from school libraries if they are "patently vulgar" or have absolutely no educational value.
  11. The First Amendment applies to kids, even in school (See the case Tinker v. Des Moines School District) but not necessarily apply to the same extent as it applies to adults. School officials can restrict a student's free speech if the speech is disruptive to other's learning.
  12. The First Amendment can apply to conduct that is intended to be understood as expression - like flag burning.
  13. The Government may place reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech, so long as those restrictions are content neutral and don't put excessive burdens on speech (like requiring permits before marching down a public street, or confining protest messages to one area or corner of a public forum).
  14. In the 2001 court case American Amusement Machine Association v. Teri Kendrick, the 7th Circuit court overturned the district court's decision that an Indianapolis video game censorship law was constitutional. The court's decision stated that "children have First Amendment rights" and "violent" video games are different from "harmful matter" that is "an adult invasion of children's culture"
  15. In Stanley v. Georgia, the Supreme Court held that individuals may receive information and ideas in the privacy of their own home, free from governmental interference (regardless of their intellectual worth), on the basis that the government "cannot constitutionally premise legislation on the desirability of controlling a person's private thoughts." Thus, your right to possess obscene materials in your home for private use is constitutionally allowed.