Freedom of speech is a foundational principle of the American Constitutional system. This collection of over 100 primary documents from a variety of sources will help students understand exactly what is meant by free speech, and how it has evolved since the founding of our country. Court cases, opinion pieces, and many other documents bring to life the tension between America’s constitutional commitment to robust and unrestrained discourse and recurring efforts to suppress expression deemed dangerous, degrading or obscene. Explanatory introductions to each document aid users in understanding the various arguments put forth in debates over exactly how to define the Constitution to encourage readers to consider all sides when drawing their own conclusions.
Relying heavily on Supreme Court precedents that have shaped First Amendment law, the volume also provides plenty of carefully selected source materials chosen to reflect the culture of the times, allowing the reader to better understand the climate giving rise to each controversy. The introductory and explanatory text help readers understand the nature of the conflicts, the issues being litigated, the social and cultural pressures that shaped each debate, and the manner in which the composition of the Supreme Court and the passions of the individual Justices affected the development of the law. This welcome resource will provide students with the opportunity to explore the philosophy of the First Amendment’s Free Speech provisions and to understand how our historic commitment to freedom of expression has fared at various times in our history.