Freedom of speech is probably the most controversial amendment that there is within the Bill of Rights. “The first amendment of is freedom of religion, press, and expression, which states that congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances (Mount, S. 2010).” The first amendment gives the citizens of the U.S. the right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas with fear of government retaliation or censorship. The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a basic human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The consequences for violations of the first amendment are arrests, surveillance, and having to go to free speech zones in order to have freedom of speech.
Some of the famous cases of freedom of speech are as follows: In Texas vs. Johnson, in front of Dallas City Hall, Gregory Johnson was burning a US flag in protest of the Reagan administration’s policies. Johnson was then sentenced to one year of jail time and had to pay a $2,000 fine. The case was appealed and the decision was reversed by the Texas Court of Appeals. The case then went to the most supreme court of the land the Supreme Court, who in a 5 to 4 decision, stated that Johnson’s flag burning protest was protected by First Amendment. The court stated that his actions fell under the category of expressive conduct, the fact that an audience took offense to Johnson’s actions does not justify prohibitions of speech (Chicago Kent College of Law, n.d).
West Virginia Board of Education...
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... against the use of contraceptives violated the Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which provides that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges of immunities of citizens of the US; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law… nor deny any person the equal protection of the laws ((Legal Dictionary, 2012).” “The Supreme Court of the United States then, ruled that the Connecticut law was unconstitutional, and violated the “right to martial privacy”, in a 7-2 decision, which pointed out that although the Bill of Rights does not specifically mention “privacy,” it is inherent and implied in other protections that are provided in the US Constitution to the citizens of the US against governmental intrusion into their day to day lives (Legal Dictionary, 2012).”
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