Symbolic Speech: The Freedom Of Speech And The First Amendment

1582 Words 6 Pages
Larry Flynt once said, “If you’re not going to offend somebody you don’t need the First Amendment.” This quotation means that if you are unable to help somebody protect their rights, then you are not using the freedoms the first Amendment guarantees. On December 15, 1791, the state of Virginia ratified that the citizens of The United States were now protected of their essential freedoms. (FirstAmendmentCenter.org)This means that American citizens now had the freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. The amendment clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably …show more content…
This form of representation can be found in places of political activity, in the form of silent rallies, marches, the wearing of apparel such as pins and armbands, and the exhibition as well as the destruction of nationally-recognized items such as the practice of flag burning. The section of the First Amendment regarding symbolic speech is exemplified in several court cases. The first court case regarding the liberty of symbolic speech was argued by the United States Supreme Court Case which assumed the name of United States V. O’Brien. In this court case which began in March of 1966, David Paul O’Brien and several acquaintances were accused of burning their draft cards outside of The South Boston Courthouse. A draft card was a card a male received when he turned 18 containing all his information written on it, and it was put into a lottery so they had the possibility of entering the United States Military. O’Brien confessed that he was burning his draft card, therefore he was put on trial and sentenced at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He was eager to go to court and argue his point. In court, O’ Brien explained to the jury that he burned his draft card to persuade others to have the same anti-war beliefs that he had. In the exact words of O’Brien, “so that other people would reevaluate …show more content…
Freedom of press is broadly described as an American’s right to bring together, distribute and issue information and ideas without any government restriction. A Supreme Court case that shows how the right of freedom of press is guaranteed is displayed in the Supreme Court case of Near V. Minnesota. In January of 1930, J.M Near was arrested because of what was said in his publication known as “The Saturday Press.” Near was accused of publicizing hateful, racist, and prejudice statements in his newspaper. At first he was accused of violating the Minnesota Gag Law of 1925, which did not allow hateful publications to be shown to the public. The law was passed to keep peace within the state and not conduct any riots. When Near was taken to court, he argued that his state was taking away his 1st and 14th amendment rights. He claimed that what was stated in his newspaper was not illegal or dangerous to those reading it. After hearing what J.M had to say about his argument, the Supreme Court favored Near and argued that the Minnesota Gag Law of 1925 violated the liberties given in the first amendment. The Supreme Court declared that the newspaper Near was publicizing did not impose any hateful actions or harm to the people, therefore he should not be charged. It is clearly shown that due to the fact that Near did not violate any federal laws he was protected of his first amendment rights and was able to

Related Documents