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Denial of First Amendment rights: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 prohibits the deprivation of rights “secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. This includes the right to freedom of speech, which is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Summary: A claim of denial of First Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arises when a person is deprived of their right to free speech. Legal Citations: Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969); Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969); Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).
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Important First Amendment Cases in United States History
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Throughout American history, these rights have been tested, defended, and expanded through a series of landmark Supreme Court cases. Below are the top 10 most significant First Amendment cases in American history.
1. Near v. Minnesota (1931): Near v. Minnesota is seen as the first case to recognize that the First Amendment does, in fact, apply to state laws. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that Minnesota's law that prohibited the publication of any “malicious, scandalous, and defamatory” material was unconstitutional.
2. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964): This case is significant because it established the “actual malice” standard for defamation cases involving public figures. The Supreme Court ruled that a public official must prove that the statements made against them were made with “actual malice”—that is, with the knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard for the truth.
3. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969): This case involved several students who were suspended from school for wearing black armbands as a form of protest against the Vietnam War. The Supreme Court ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
4. Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969): In this case, the Supreme Court overturned a conviction for advocating the use of violence against the government. The Court ruled that the First Amendment protects speech that advocates violence only if it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
5. Texas v. Johnson (1989): This case involved a protester who burned an American flag as a form of protest against the Reagan Administration. The Supreme Court ruled that burning the flag was a form of symbolic speech that was protected under the First Amendment.
6. United States v. Eichman (1990): This case involved a challenge to a federal law that made it a crime to burn the American flag. The Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment because it prohibited speech that was protected under the First Amendment.
7. R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992): This case involved a challenge to a St. Paul ordinance that prohibited the display of symbols, such as swastikas, that were likely to anger or alarm others. The Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it was content-based and therefore violated the First Amendment.
8. Virginia v. Black (2003): This case involved a challenge to a Virginia law that prohibited cross burning. The Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional because it was content-neutral and therefore did not violate the First Amendment.
9. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010): This case involved a challenge to a federal law that prohibited corporations and labor unions from spending money to support or oppose political candidates. The Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment because it prohibited political speech.
10. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018): This case involved a challenge to a Colorado law that prohibited businesses from refusing to serve customers based on their sexual orientation. The Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment because it was not applied in a neutral manner. From free speech to free press, the First Amendment has been at the center of many landmark Supreme Court cases throughout American history.
These 10 cases are some of the most significant in expanding and protecting the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Dazzle your friends with Knowledge of First Amendment free speech
Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (1931);
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964);
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969);
Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969);
Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989);
United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990);
R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992);
Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343 (2003);
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010);
Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 138 S. Ct. 1719 (2018).