Limitations to Free Speech in the First Amendment

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To many the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to say anything you want at any time you want, and not be arrested, but the first amendment does not protect all speech. What do I mean by this? Over the years the Supreme Court has rejected an interpretation of the First Amendment that gives the right to free speech without limits. For example speech that impedes national security, justice, and personal safety is not protected by the First Amendment. If you know of limits you would probably think first of speech that presents a danger to other people or speech that is false or makes true statement misleading (otherwise known as Libel and Slander). One limit many might not think of right away is limits on advertising. The first and most important question here is “Is advertising protected by the First Amendment and has it always been protected? Most advertising is now protected by the First Amendment, but it has not always been. The first case that wanted free speech for advertisements was the Valentine vs. Chrestensen case. In this case the Supreme Court found “to what extent, one may promote or pursue a gainful occupation in the streets, and to what extent such activity shall be adjudged a derogation of the public right of the user are matters of legislative government.” In other words, if you want to advertise for your company, the state you advertise in can decide whether laws will impede on your right to free speech. It would be years before the right for commercial speech was challenged. There would be more cases where the Supreme Court sided with the states, but in 1976 came the first relief for advertisers. Another important case was the Virginia Pharmacy Bd. v. Virginia Consumer Council case in 1976. This time the Supreme Court struck down a Virginian statute that outlawed advertising by pharmacists, saying that states attempts at regulation of commercial speech were “highly paternalistic.” The Supreme Court would expand the laws to include “offensive” speech and in 1978 they would expand to allow for "influencing or affecting" voters opinions. Another part of the struggle for rights for commercial advertising was the constitutionality of government restrictions on vice advertising. Vice advertising was things like gambling, liquor, and other products that many would view as unethical or dirty. The Supreme Court would go one way on one vice law, and on the next make a completely different decision.
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