Limitations of the Freedom of Speech

Topics: Freedom of speech, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Democracy Pages: 2 (362 words) Published: March 12, 2013

The Constitution, Article 3, Section 4 provides: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or of the right of people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievance.

*The Constitution forbids not the abridging of speech, but the abridging of freedomof speech.

There are several reasons why freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution. For some, freedom of expression is essential for the search of truth. This is the marketplace idea, which posits that the power of thought can betested by its acceptability in the competition of the market. Another reason offeredis that free expression is needed for democracy to work properly. The citizen has tobe given the information required for him to be able to perform his civic duty. Stillanother reason is a very personal one: freedom of expression promotes individual self-realization and self-determination. 4

The importance of freedom of expression is easily appreciated. Notably, this is thefirst right that is always curtailed when a free society falls under a repressiveregime. Our Constitution provides that “sovereignty resides in the people” 5

Whom manifest it regularly through their suffrages, and more frequently and generally, bythe assertion of their freedom of expression. This sovereignty would be negated if they were denied the opportunity to participate in the shaping if public affairsthough the arbitrary imposition upon them of the ban on silence. 6

Freedom of expression contains two guarantees: prohibiting prior restraint and aprohibition of subsequent punishment.Prior restraint means official government restrictions on the press or other forms of expression in advance of actual publication or dissemination. Its most blatant formis a system of licensing or censorship administered by an executive officer. But italso includes other prior restrictions...
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