First Amendment Limitations

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“The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, or more appropriately, the first eight, are called the Bill of Rights.” (Kanovitz, 2015, p. 20) The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, right to petition, and right to assemble. Although many believe that the first amendment gives full protection, there are certain limits placed upon it. Freedom of speech has limitations when it comes to obscenity, inciting immediate unlawful action, and using fighting words. Where many seek freedom, they are met with limitations.
The Miller v. California case is an example of a limitation on the First Amendment. In this particular case, the First Amendment does not protect obscenity. In January of 1972, Marvin
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In April 1940, Walter Chaplinsky was in downtown in Rochester, New Hampshire handing out literature and speaking publicly about religion. As Chaplinsky continued to talk, the crowd continued to grow, blocking the streets and disturbing the area. The public around him became upset with Chaplinsky as he began to denounce religion as “racket”. A complaint was filed with the City Marshall. Following the filed complaint, the City Marshall warned Chaplinsky about disturbing the public, but Chaplinsky continued to speak despite being given a warning. The police officer returned to the scene and Chaplinsky started to act erratically and publicly called the police officer a “God-damned racketeer" and "a damned Fascist". After this public outburst, Chaplinsky was arrested. He was charged with using offensive language directed at an individual in a public setting. Chaplinsky, not happy with the arrest, decided to file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court because he felt as if his First Amendment rights were violated. The Supreme Court heard his argument but decided not to overturn his conviction. “The Court noticed judicially that the appellations "damned racketeer" and "damned Fascist" are epithets likely to provoke the average person to retaliation, and thereby cause a breach of the peace.” (Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire) The use of fighting words is not protected under the First Amendment as freedom of speech in that it does not convey an idea and these words have the potential to disturb the

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