The Bill of Rights and Free Speech

Focuses on First Amendment protection of free speech, free assembly, and petition of government. The unit also examines the evolution of the definitions of protected expression in speech, petition, assembly, art, and demonstration.

Why is Free Speech Essential to Self-Government?

Clock 90 minutes

America’s Founders recognized the necessity of vigorous public debate and enshrined the right to speak freely in the Bill of Rights. This component of the Constitution protects a wide range of speech, including speech we might find disagreeable. While the First Amendment’s primary purpose was to protect political speech, its protections do have limits. This lesson explores this essential principle of free speech.

Founding Principles

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Civil Discourse

Reasoned and respectful sharing of ideas between individuals is the primary way people influence change in society/government, and is essential to maintain self-government.

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Freedom of Speech

The freedom to express one's opinions without interference from the the government is critical to the maintenance of liberty within a free society.

Inalienable / Natural Rights image

Inalienable / Natural Rights

Freedoms which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.

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Individual Responsibility

Individuals must take care of themselves and their families and be vigilant to preserve their liberty.

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Liberty

Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, the government does not have the authority to limit freedom.

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