Search Reflections to the First Amendment First Amendment of the American constitution guarantees of the rights of religion and freedom of speech or expression. The freedom of expression includes the press, speech right to assembly and the right of every citizen to petition the government for any redress of grievances. The First Amendment was put in place because at America's foundation, people demanded an assurance that their basic freedoms will be respected.
Stone is the Edward H. Wu identifies a number of potentially serious threats to our capacity to maintain the robust public discourse that is essential to a well-functioning democracy. Before offering a few thoughts on those challenges, though, let me first take issue with the central question raised Reflections on the first amendment the essay: The issues he rightly identifies in his essay are critical to our democratic future only because the First Amendment, as interpreted and applied by the Supreme Court, has been extraordinarily successful at constraining the primary evil at which the First Amendment was directed—government censorship of unwelcome ideas and criticism.
If the Supreme Court had not done such a good job of enforcing the central meaning of the First Amendment, then all of the issues that concern Wu would be largely unimportant.
If, as was once the case, government could constitutionally imprison anyone whose ideas it sought to suppress, then none of the issues that concern Wu would matter all that much. These issues are critical only because the First Amendment has, on balance, been remarkably successful in constraining the fundamental evil at which it was directed.
It is important to give credit where credit is due! None of that is to suggest, however, that the concerns that Wu raises are not deeply troubling. They do, indeed, pose serious threats to the future functioning of our democracy. There are at least two ways in which the First Amendment might be relevant to these issues.
First, the First Amendment might be interpreted in such a way as to forbid some of these activities. Second, the First Amendment might be interpreted in such a way as to allow government to forbid some of these activities.
The primary constraint on the first approach is, as Wu notes, the state action doctrine. Under well-settled principles of constitutional interpretation, the actions of those individuals, even if they act in concert with one another, do not constitute state action and thus do not trigger the First Amendment.
There have been occasional instances, however, in which the Court has played rather fast-and-loose with the state action doctrine in order to bring essentially private action within the sphere of constitutional law. This was so, for example, in cases like Shelley v.
For example, one could imagine the Court holding that extraordinary powerful internet sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are so powerful that they are in effect government action and must therefore be deemed the equivalent of public forums.
Marsh, which dealt with company towns, might be a good jumping off point for such an analysis. The more likely expansion in the scope of First Amendment restrictions, as Wu notes, is in the realm of government speech.
This is still a relatively novel concept in First Amendment jurisprudence, and recognition that the government is permitted to express points of view does not imply that government has unlimited authority to exercise its power to speak when doing so violates the Constitution.
For example, if a state government, in which all three branches are controlled by the same political party, authorizes the expenditure of public funds to support the election of only Republican Party candidates, that would surely violate the First Amendment.
Some government speech, in other words, is itself unconstitutional. The World War I example poses a useful illustration of the problem. The challenge, of course, is figuring out when too much is too much. A similar issue arises when the government encourages private speakers to advance a particular partisan or political position.
The Supreme Court has not yet begun to grapple with these questions, but as Wu notes they might well come before the Court in the future, and one can imagine situations in which the Court would in fact hold that such conduct violates the First Amendment, although the line-drawing issues would be daunting.
The second way in which the First Amendment might be relevant to the concerns described by Wu is by permitting greater government regulation of the marketplace of ideas.
That is, the government might attempt to address some of these concerns by legislation or regulation, and the Supreme Court might then interpret the First Amendment in a way that permits such intervention, even though the intervention itself raises potentially serious First Amendment questions.
It is worth recalling that there was a time in our history when technological advances in the communications market caused similar angst. This occurred with the advent of radio, when citizens feared that, in light of the small number of available frequencies, a handful of wealthy individuals could take control of those frequencies and thus dominate public discourse.Second, the First Amendment might be interpreted in such a way as to allow government to forbid some of these activities.
The primary constraint on the first approach is, as Wu notes, the state action doctrine. The First Amendment is one of the most important Amendments in the Bill of Rights.
The forefathers felt that the Bill of Rights was needed in the Constitution to assure the rights of the people and proceeded to add such protection in the First Amendment. Reflections on the First Amendment HIS/ Reflections on the First Amendment The cases discussed below are considered landmark cases.
They each include issues dealing with the fundamental rights of a free society, which in the United States are protected by the Bill of Rights. Reflections on the First Amendment On December 15th, , the first X amendments to the Constitution went into affect.
The first X amendments to the constitution were known as the Bill of Rights.
The First Amendment was written by James Madison because the American people were demanding a guarantee of their freedom. Reflections on the First Amendment Shellene Lewis History/ July 03, Brona Pinnolis Reflections on the First Amendment In Baton Rouge, Louisiana twenty three black college students were arrested in an attempt to integrate a local eatery.
Reflections on the First Amendment On December 15th, , the first X amendments to the Constitution went into affect. The first X amendments to the constitution were known as the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment was written by James Madison because the American people were demanding a guarantee of their freedom.