The First Amendment

The First Amendment
Do you know the
First Amendment?
First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof; or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press, or the
right of the people peaceable to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a
redress of grievances.
of Religion
of Speech
of the Press
of Assembly
to Petition
Freedom of Religion
• Americans are free to worship- or not to
worship- as they wish.
• No government official can dictate if, how,
when, where or why we pray.
• The Supreme Court has made it clear that
students are not to be coerced at school or
school functions to join in any form of religious
Freedom of Speech
• The First Amendment guarantees that
all people will be free to express
their opinions, no matter how
unpopular those opinions may be.
Freedom of the Press
• The First Amendment ensures that a
free and responsible press will be
able to keep the public informed.
Freedom of Assembly
• The First Amendment ensures that citizens will
have the right to assemble peaceably, even
when they are protesting.
Freedom to Petition
• The First Amendment gives citizens the right to
petition for redress of grievances, whether at
the ballot box or through elected
The Three Exceptions to Protected Speech
• Slander
• Obscenity
• Libel
Oral defamation in which someone tells one or more
persons an untruth about another. The telling of such
an untruth will harm the reputation of the person
• Some statements, such as an untrue accusation of
having committed a crime, having a loathsome
disease or being unable to perform one’s occupation
are treated as slander per se since the harm and
malice are obvious.
• For example: someone writes an article about
someone being a convicted felon…..but they actually
• The average person finds that the
publication, taken as a whole,
contains offensive content (such as
murder or sex)
• The work, taken as a whole, lacks
serious literary, artistic, political or
scientific value
Libelous Material
• A published statement or graphic shared
with at least one other
• Provable false statements that injures
an individual’s or business’s reputation
• Published with “actual malice”
• Published with “reckless disregard” for
the truth
For libel to occur, 4 elements must be
1.Publication and distribution of
2.Identification of person
3.Injury or intent to harm; malice
4.Fault, reckless disregard
Four defenses against libel
1.Truth; the offending statement must be
proven true
2.Privilege: information as public record
3.Fair comment: opinion expressed on matter
of public interest- without malicious intent
4.Right of reply: the opposing viewpoint was
given opportunity to reply
Invasion of Privacy
1.Wrongful intrusion
2.Publishing private matters
3.Placing a person in a false light
1.Intrusion: wiretaps or lying to get into someone’s
home vs. public information
2.Private facts: not newsworthy, not in the public’s
best interest or highly offensive
3.False light: publicity that distorts a person’s
character or background
4.Appropriation: Use of a person's name, likeness or
identity for trade or advertising purposes without
Hazelwood versus Kuhlmeier