The First Amendment is clear in its protection of the freedom of expression: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” However, only Justices Black and Douglas have ever adhered to a literalist interpretation of the Freedom of Expression Clause. All other justices have been willing to place some restrictions on the freedom of expression.
Review the First Amendment case law found in your week 3 readings in the lessons section. Discuss the evolution of standards the Court has used to adjudicate freedom of expression. Choose one case that you think it significant. Briefly give the facts of that case and discuss why you believe it is significant to this discussion.
In your answer, explain why the Court has not adhered to a single position in deciding First Amendment cases, changing standards depending on the circumstances of the case.
Why has the Court been more willing to restrict freedom of expression in certain times and has allowed more liberal standards at other times? Are you satisfied with the standards that the Court has provided? Do you feel that the standards should be more or less precise, allowing for more or less freedom in interpreting the standard? Why?