The First Amendment guarantees Free Speech. It is a Natural (or God-given) right that is guaranteed to every American. The Supreme Court of the United States has been all over the place with this freedom over the past two centuries. During Woodrow Wilson's time as President, the Great Court allowed government action against anti-war speech, ruling three times in a single day to uphold convictions under Wilson's Espionage Act of 1917.
Over the years, there have been other challenges, but the concept of a "Marketplace of Ideas" seemed to be the prevailing context for Free Speech. That is, until the Fairness Doctrine limited free speech until it was overturned by a later decision by the Court. Over the past twenty or thirty years, free speech has been closely guarded by the law, with even the most outrageous speech and demonstrations being tolerated under the Constitution. But we must be careful to protect this sacred inherent right, because the Supreme Court certainly has swung wildly over the interpretation of this Right. President Obama has already begun an assault on the sanctity of this right, examples of which follow:
On June 22nd, 2009, Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law. Although I do not smoke and do not want my children to take up this filthy habit, the law itself is un-Constitutional. The law restricts advertising to black and white as well as prohibiting outdoor signs within one thousand feet of schools or playgrounds. On the surface, the feel-good answer would be that this is a good way to protect our children. But it restricts adult dialog between a company and customers. The language is restrictive and has a negative affect on legal commerce. Although the tobacco companies are hardly a target I would choose to protect, this assault on our natural freedoms is unacceptable.
On October 28th, 2009, President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Again, this is a knee-jerk reaction to "bullying" that has resulted in some high profile media cases. But restricting freedom of speech is an inappropriate way to address this issue. The law basically addresses crimes committed in thought. The last thing we need is the thought-police. This dangerous infringement on liberty should be addressed by the Supreme Court and over-turned as un-Constitutional.
Along with these two very clear examples of President Obama's willingness to tread on the First Amendment, we have his adoption of George Bush's Patriot Act and a flirtation with a return to The Fairness Doctrine, which the Supreme Court has already overturned as un-Constitutional. The vacillation of the High Court on issues of inherent freedoms, our birthright as Americans, should be monitored by voters. A return to the Fairness Doctrine is not outside the realm of possibility and would be yet another example of an intentional assault on the First Amendment. The best way to control the people is to first disarm them and then take away their voice. Our voices in the "Marketplace of Ideas" is what sets America apart from tyranny. We must ensure that we preserve this freedom by challenging these un-Constitutional Laws that restrict our freedom.
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law "respecting an establishment of religion", impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Originally, the First Amendment only applied to the Congress. However, in the 20th century, the Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the First Amendment to each state, including any local government.