Suing for First Amendment Violations of Free Speech, Freedom of Religion or Free Expression
The 1st amendment of the United States of our Constitution guarantees that all Americans are eligible to freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. This grouping of freedoms that all American’s enjoy is often collectively called freedom of expression. Congress is expressly forbidden to create any laws which oppress any of these freedoms for American citizens.
Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of each of these, and without it, the others could not exist. This law protects U.S. citizens who are the minority against the big, corporations or even the government from overpowering them and ruling with an iron fist.
There are a few exceptions to freedom of speech that should be noted; they are as follows:
- A serious threat or obscenity is not protected by the freedom of speech act. Ironically, however, strongly offensive political opinions are protected.
- The government only has the right to regulate speech when it involves protection of public or government safety.
In some cases, freedom of speech is not upheld by the government such as the case of “Bethel School District v. Fraser 1968,” where a student gave a speech that was profane and was then suspended and not allowed to speak in front of the student body again. The Supreme Court overruled Fraser’s claim of a violation of free speech. They determined that schools have the right to protect students from offensive language and vulgarity and Fraser broke that rule during his speech. His punishment was upheld by the government.
So the question of whether or not a violation occurred is complicated and best left to a legal specialist to decide before embarking on a personal lawsuit.
All first amendment civil court cases are processed by the Supreme Court of the United States. Being that it involves such a critical law in our government system and the consequences of the decisions are high. Throughout history, there have been some very notable freedom violation cases that have changed the course of our lives.