The competing right under Roe v. Wade of women’s access to abortion clinics
must be balanced against the First Amendment rights of abortion protesters.
The rights to privacy and First Amendment freedom of religion have been
raised as constitutional protections for a woman’s right to have an
abortion. But the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed in 2022 when it overturned
precedent linking these rights and upholding a Mississippi law banning
Government aid to religious colleges presents several First
Amendment–related issues including employment policies, construction grants
and student scholarships.
Lawyers do not forfeit all of their free-speech rights as members of a
profession, but their speech rights are limited in many ways. Rules of
professional conduct adopted by the supreme courts in each state, for
example, prohibit lawyers from making false statements about judges,
writing legal papers that are deemed “frivolous,” engaging in speech that
disrupts the tribunal or engaging in direct, face-to-face solicitation of
prospective clients, with a few exceptions.
Whether judges can prohibit attorneys from wearing pins or symbols with a
political message in a courtroom is an unsettled First Amendment issue
highlighted recently in Las Vegas.
Sometimes state autopsy laws conflict with religious objections to such
procedures, bringing into play First Amendment questions of religious
liberty. Public access to autopsy records of the government have also been
Black Lives Matter is a protest movement to call attention to police
treatment of Black Americans. Response to protests have sometimes led to a
chilling effect on First Amendment freedoms.
First Amendment free exercise of religion is in question when medical care
is refused due to religious beliefs. Courts must balance religious rights
and child welfare.
Christian nationalism has played a key role in U.S. history that many think
plays a meaningful role in a country that guarantees religious liberty.
Others are concerned that a more militant phase threatens First Amendment
religious liberty and separation of church and state.
In the 20th century, the Supreme Court established the clear and present
danger test as the predominate standard for determining when speech is
protected by the First Amendment.
Government entities have grappled with whether to remove Confederate
monuments from public grounds. Individuals have the First Amendment right
to keep statues on private property.
The Court considered conscientious objector cases during the Vietnam War,
weighing when First Amendment freedom protects someone from laws requiring
Can the government restrict gatherings, including church services, during
the coronavirus outbreak or is that a violation of the First Amendment
religious freedom and assembly clauses? The government has broad powers
during a health crisis. As long as restrictions apply equally, and not
single out churches, courts would likely uphold them.
Defamation lawsuits can have a chilling effect on free speech. The Supreme
Court first applied First Amendment protection from state libel laws in
1964 in New York Times v. Sullivan, establishing an actual malice standard
that had to be met by public officials.
Some fear that FEMA’s decision to include churches among the entities that
receive federal disaster aid could erode the First Amendment separation of
church and state.
Fighting foreign disinformation operations in America collided with fear of
government control of information in the Department of Homeland Security’s
short-lived Disinformation Governance Board.
Exacting scrutiny is a form of close judicial review used by the U.S.
Supreme Court to evaluate restrictions on speech in campaign finance,
election law and compelled disclosures. It appears to be a form of review
somewhere between strict scrutiny and intermediate scrutiny.
The fair report privilege is a state-law defense to defamation claims used
by journalists, although the level of protection may vary by state. Under
the privilege, a journalist is insulated from a defamation claim when he or
she publishes a defamatory comment that was part of official affairs of the
False claims by Donald Trump’s attorneys about the 2020 presidential
election results have prompted some experts to observe the limits of First
Amendment free speech protections for attorneys who make misleading public
Although the Court has said that the FCC can regulate fleeting expletives,
it has also overturned FCC sanctions, not on First Amendment grounds, but
because of vague policies.
The First Amendment guarantees “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” The notion that the act of gathering is pivotal to a functioning democracy relates to the belief that individuals espousing ideas will tend to coalesce around their commonalities. As a result, a correlative right of association — though not enumerated in the First Amendment
The first 16 words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” protect the right of every person to practice religion in accordance with conscience and guard against creation of a sectarian state. But the precise meaning of these
The American Psychiatric Association prohibits members from offering
opinions about the mental state of public figures under the Goldwater Rule,
which it adopted after public evaluations of presidential candidate Barry
Goldwater’s psychiatric state.
The Supreme Court has generally supported speech restrictions on government
funding, even when those restrictions may have a chilling effect on First
Court rulings in the 2nd and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeal establish that
when a government official opens up a social media account for public
comment, the section of the site that is interactive is a designated public
forum. As such, the First Amendment prohibits government officials from
engaging in viewpoint discrimination.
Many Supreme Court cases upholding restrictions on subversive speech have
relied on the idea that such speech is forbidden because it incites
violence or illegal actions.
The libel-proof plaintiff doctrine is a concept that insulates a defendant
from defamation liability for statements made about someone who has no good
reputation to protect.
The ministerial exception shields churches from improper government
influence by barring legal claims against churches by employees with
religious functions. The line between ministers and others employees by the
church might not always be clear, but is believed to encompass the
The First Amendment limits the degree to which governments can censor
movies. The Motion Picture Association of America uses a voluntary system
of movie ratings to inform parents.
It has been proposed that United States residents be required to carry
proof of identity, but critics of the idea argue that the proposal would
raise First Amendment concerns.
The Pickering Connick test refers to a longstanding test in First Amendment
law used by courts to determine whether a public employer violated an
employee’s free-expression rights. The test considers whether a public
employee spoke on matters of public concern, and if the speech outweighed
the interest in a disruptive-free workplace.
A federal law that prohibits pickets in front of a judge’s home with the
intent of influencing the judge could be considered a reasonable time,
place and manner restriction under the First Amendment.
The First Amendment appears to provide a special right for the press,
however the Supreme Court has taken a narrow view of the “press clause” and
held that the press does not have greater rights than those accorded to the
public in general. Some scholars have criticized this viewpoint and argued
that the press role of keeping the public informed calls for a different
The professional speech doctrine is a concept used by lower courts in
recent years to define and often limit the free-speech rights of
professionals when rendering counsel.
The public forum doctrine is an analytical tool used in First Amendment
jurisprudence to determine the constitutionality of speech restrictions
implemented on government property.
Under the qualified immunity doctrine, government officials could violate a
person’s First Amendment rights, but not face liability because the law was
not settled or known at the time the official engaged in such conduct.
The musical genre of rap, which often features a hard-core assessment of
inner city woes, has come under threats of censorship through the years in
a variety of contexts.
The religious rights of pharmacists to refuse to fill a legal prescription
for emergency contraception, often known as a morning-after pill, has not
made it to the Supreme Court, but changes in abortion law could increase
Before the First Amendment was applied to the states, there was a prominent
idea that witnesses in court trials could only testify if they believed in
God or the afterlife.
Many states have adopted retraction statutes that allow the press to reduce
liability if they publish a correction within a certain time period.
Because defamatory statements are not considered protected under the First
Amendment, retraction help mitigate potential damages from an editorial
In a case involving a North Carolina congressman’s right to run for
reelection to office in 2022, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
considered his claim of amnesty, but not his First Amendment claims.
The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution protects the right to
learn and teach foreign languages. The Court said this right falls under
the penumbra of the First Amendment.
The FCC’s right to respond and reply allowed those criticized on radio and
TV broadcasts time to share their viewpoint on air to foster First
Amendment diversity of viewpoints.
The secondary effects doctrine is used when content-based laws are aimed at
the secondary effects of protected expression. The laws can more easily
pass First Amendment scrutiny.
A federal judge blocked Florida’s Stop W.O.K.E. Act saying that it violates
the First Amendment by limiting professors at state schools from expressing
certain viewpoints related to race, sex and country of origin when relevant
to the curriculum.
Through tax exemptions, legislatures have sought to encourage effects of
religious organizations while avoiding First Amendment–based concerns of
excessive government entanglement.
Time, place and manner restrictions are content-neutral limitations imposed
by the government on expressive activity. These restrictions do not usually
violate the First Amendment.
Truckers have boycotted coming into the U.S., causing supply chain issues,
over a requirement that they get vaccinated to cross the U.S./Canada
border. Their protests are probably protected by the First Amendment.
U.S. relations with Vatican City have stirred concerns among those who fear
that recognition of the city-state could violate the First Amendment’s
separation of church and state.
The First Amendment freedoms of press, speech, petition and assembly are all designed to encourage citizen participation in democracy and hold government officials accountable. Yet the First Amendment never cites the right to vote, the ultimate check on government corruption and incompetence. Voting is instead a process managed primarily by 50 different state legislatures.