First Amendment: Speech

In this lesson, students examine the historical context and the drafting of the First Amendment by examining the motivations of  the Founding generation. Students will also examine various types of “speech,” such as symbolic speech, hate speech, and political speech, to address the scope of protections promised by the First Amendment and learn that speech can only be limited when it is intended to and likely to cause imminent violence. In each instance, students will explore when the government has some authority to restrict speech; areas of consensus among scholars, judges, and citizens; the strongest constitutional arguments on each side of contested issues; and U.S. Supreme Court cases that have addressed free speech rights. Students will use the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution to look at the viewpoints of legal scholars on free speech, where they agree and where there are matters of debate. This lesson can pair with the lesson on Freedom of the Press.

Essential Questions:

  • Does the First Amendment Protect Hate speech?
  • How does the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protect Freedom of Speech?
  • When and why can the government limit certain types of speech?
  • How has the protection of speech changed over time?

Get Started:

Speech Video Part One:   Speech Video Part Two:
Classroom Materials:

This lesson encourages students to examine their own assumptions and to deepen their understanding of current, accepted interpretations of speech rights under the First Amendment, including when and where speech is protected and/or limited. It should reinforce the robustness of the First Amendment protections of speech.

 

Lesson Plan

First Amendment Snapshot: Hate Speech

 

 

Explore the Interactive Constitution:

FREE SPEECH and Press: COMMON INTERPRETATION

FREE SPEECH and Press: COMMON INTERPRETATION

By Geoffrey R. Stone and Eugene Volokh

Go to this clause

MATTERS OF DEBATE: FIXING FREE SPEECH

MATTERS OF DEBATE: FIXING FREE SPEECH

By Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

Read the essay

MATTERS OF DEBATE: FRONTIERS FOR FREE SPEECH

MATTERS OF DEBATE: FRONTIERS FOR FREE SPEECH

By Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Read the essay

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