First Amendment: Freedom of Speech

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Submitted By gcatalli
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First Amendment Research Paper: Freedom of Speech

During the time the Constitution was being written, freedom of speech was mainly focused on political speech. People wanted the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions about the government without being reprimanded or unheard. People feared that if the government was able to censor unfavorable viewpoints, they would eventually form a politically powerful population and oppress those who did not share the same mindset. Along with concerns about political speech, freedom of religious speech was a common desire. Previous incidents in English and Colonial history had occurred where certain religious views were prohibited and the people wanted to make sure that they were safe from the government’s restrictions.

During his speech to the First Congress on June 8, 1789, James Madison proposed the Freedom of Speech idea to congress. He included several amendments that specifically addressed the concerns of Anti-Federalists that certain rights were not strongly protected by the Constitution. Madison said in his speech, “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments.” Congress agreed with this idea and it became part of the first amendment. Madison continued with, “No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or of the press.” Congress did not like this and thought that only the federal government should be prohibited from restricting certain rights, not the states. After the Civil War, which began the movement for all citizens to be treated equally, the Courts started restricting the Bill of Rights. This included the ban against making laws preventing freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech has been interpreted in many ways. Some people think it includes everything, all the time, while others understand the need for reasonably restricting…...

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