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Q: POLITICAL SCIENCE ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Category: Relationships and Society > Politics
Asked by: npb17-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 13 Oct 2002 17:30 PDT
Expires: 12 Nov 2002 16:30 PST
Question ID: 76203
Answered By: rbnn-ga on 14 Oct 2002 06:59 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
After some searching I found a summary of limitations on freedome of
the press at this article:

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment. Henry
Cohen. Congressional Research Service, 2001. ( )

You will need a pdf viewer to access this article. A pdf viewer may be
downloaded from here: .

I will summarize that article here. All unattributed quotations are
from that URL.


1. Obscenity. Unique in being "the only type of speech to which the
Supreme Court has denied First Amendment protection without regard to
whether it is harmful to individuals. The justification is that at the
time of the adoption obscenity was 'outside the protection intended
for speech and press' (Roth v. United States 1957).

2. Child pornography. This is legally distinct from Obscenity: it may
be banned even when it does not fall under the legal definition of

3. Clear and present danger. Justice Holme wrote: 

"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man
in falsely shouting fire in a theater" (Schenk v. United States,
1919). This has been extended to "advocacy directed to incited or
producing imminent lawless action" (Brandenburg v. Ohio 1969).

4. National security. "noone would question but that a government
might prevent actual obstruction to its recruiting service of the
publication of the sailing dates of transports or the number and
location of troops". (Near v. Minnesota 1931) .

5. Fighting words: "those which by their very utterance inflict
injury".  (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire 1942).

6. "False, deceptive, or misleading commercial speech may be banned"
(Ibanez v. U.S. 1994). Commercial speech is generally less protected
than noncommercial speech. Commercial speech is "speech that proposes
a commercial transaction.

7. Defamation. Written defamation is called libel; oral defamation is
slander. (Spiderman has a seen in which this exact distinction is made
by James Jameson).

8. Speech Harmful to Children. "there is a compelling interest in
protecting ... minors" (Sable Communications v. FCC 1989). For
example, the government can ban "indecent" language during certain
hours even if the language is not obscene.

9. General regulations. Sometimes speech may be prohibited as part of
general regulations of the state, as long as the restrictions are
content-neutral (do not depend on the content of the speech) and leave
open "alternative channels of communication" Frisby v. Schultz 1988.
For example, distribution of literature may be limited at a fair to
"maintaint the orderly movements of crowds" .

10. Fairness doctrine. "The Federal Communication Commision's fairness
doctrine...required breadcast licensees to provide coverage of
controversial issues of interest to the community and to provide a
reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints
on such issues". This is because in general the Supreme Court has held
that radio and television have less protection than the written press.

11. Funding. Congress can choose to fund or not to fund certain types
of speech even that it cannot regulate directly. "Congress would have
the authority to prohibit television and radio stations from using the
federal funds the accept to engage in editorializing". In this case
the Court "upheld a gag order that prohibited family planning clinics
that accept federal funds from engaging in abortion counseling or
referrals" .

12. Copyright violation. A newspaper may not violate the rights of
copyright holders.

13. Newspapers are sometimes prohibited from publishing details of a
closed court proceeding.

Do I agree or disagree

As for the second part of your question, I agree with the rationale of
the Supreme Court that some restrictions to free speech are necessary.
For example, if we allowed newspapers to publish details of troop
movements in time of war, the underlying security of the nation could
be compromised. If we allowed libel to occur, we could be infringing
on the basic rights of the person being libelled.

In conclusion, I'm not sure how much detail you are looking for;
please do not hesitate to ask for clarification if you would like more

Search Strategy

free speech limitations

"freedom of the press" limitations

"first amendment"

"first amendment" exceptions
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