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First Amendment Essay

1054 words - 5 pages

First Amendment

When one is growing up, and is not so knowledgeable about our government you can be sure that every kid knows that they have the freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech is probably one of the things that some kids use the most, when talking about something maybe one of their friends does not want to hear, “I have the freedom of speech I can say whatever I want.” This to a certain extent is true. The first amendment states this: “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 petition the government for ...view middle of the document...

Paul R.A. and other teenagers were charged with disorderly conduct. These teenagers made a cross and decided to go across the street to an African American household and burn the cross on their front lawn. Under the St. Paul Bias Motivated Crime Ordinance, it outlaws the showing of symbols, objects, graffiti, etc. that one "knows or has reasonable grounds to know arouses anger, alarm or resentment in other on the basis or race, color, creed, religion, or gender.” When taken to the Minnesota Supreme Court they ruled, “That the act was not too broad and unallowably content based”, and therefore it did not violate the First Amendment because the act was restricted to “fighting words" which are not protected by the constitution, regardless. Anyone who advocates discrimination of race, color, creed, religion, or gender against anyone will receive special regulations. Though the act is unconstitutional, the action is in clear violation and liable to prosecution on other charges. In turn this case discovered that this specific act was unconstitutional because it discriminated on strictly content. Therefore, laws that protect any acts that are similar to this one, must be worded in a way that content is neutral.
With regards to free speech we have the right to freedom of press. We have the right to know what is going on with our country and other things that are happening within and outside our community. New York Times in 1971 got a hold of classified Defense Department documents that are widely known as the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon Papers withheld information about how the Johnson Administration had not been completely honest about policies in the Vietnam War. A district court had ordered a sanction to try to stop the publication of these classified documents because it jeopardized national security. When this case was taken to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court refused to go on with the sanction because they said that it was not against first...

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