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First Amendment Rights

Page history last edited by Carol Hemmerly 15 years, 10 months ago

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution:

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. 



The 'Five Freedoms' guaranteed by the First Amendment

  • Religion
  • Speech
  • Press
  • Assembly
  • Petition



The nine areas of speech NOT protected by the First Amendment (Unprotected Speech)

  • Defamation
    • Libel
    • Slander
  • Invasion of Privacy
    • Intrusion Upon Seclusion
    • Misappropriation
    • False Light
    • Public Disclosure of Private and Embarrassing Facts 
  • Advertisements for Illegal Products or Services 
  • Obscenity*
    • Generally, only the most sexually oriented or inappropriately targeted material usually can be called obscene. Some courts, though, have begun expanding a related concept concerning lewd and vulgar speech. The standard test for obscenity involves three elements described by theSupreme Court in Miller v. California in 1973.[30] According to Miller, a court will consider (1) whether a reasonable person, applying contemporary community standards, would find the work, taken as a whole, appeals to a prurient (lustful) interest, (2) whether the work depicts or describes in a patently offensive way sexual conduct specifically defined as obscene by the applicable state law, and (3) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.[31] Mere offensive content such as profane language or ideas, which are often included in underground newspapers, is not likely to be obscene.[32]

    • A similar but slightly broader definition of obscenity, however, has been applied to cases involving minors. In 1968, the Supreme Court in Ginsberg v. New York[33] defined obscenity involving minors as any description or representation of nudity or sexual conduct that (1) predominantly appeals to the prurient, shameful or morbid interest of minors, (2) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors, and (3) is utterly without redeeming social importance for minors. Thus, a high school underground newspaper could run into obscenity problems even if the same material would not be considered obscene on a college campus.

    • These standards are obviously vague. Therefore, underground journalists should think twice before including such things as nudity or other overtly sexual material in their publications.[34] 

*The information listed under Obscenity is directly from the Student Press Law Center. 

  • Incitement to Imminent Lawless Activity 

  • Copyright Infringement 

  • Fighting Words 

  • National Security Issues

    • primarily this pertains to providing information on troop movement during war time 

  • Material and Substantial Disruption of School Activities






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