The First Amendment enshrines and protects our shared rights to express ourselves, including in the workplace, on college campuses, in the media, and in the public square. Like all fundamental rights, our constitutional free speech protections require constant vigilance and defense from whatever forces might seek to curb or corrode them.
While most of us believe we know the basics of the First Amendment, let’s review exactly which rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights protects:
- Freedom to practice the religion(s) of choice;
- Freedom of speech and expression;
- Freedom of the press;
- Freedom to assemble;
- Freedom to petition the government.
These rights are core to who we are as Americans, and to defend them is to defend our nation against tyranny, censorship, and oppression. It’s a charge that Dhillon Law Group takes very seriously, and one that we address every day in our work.
Legal precedent establishes that the right to free speech includes:
- The right not to speak—e.g., the right not to salute the flag, etc.;
- The right to peacefully protest;
- The right to use offensive words or phrases, even to convey a political point;
- The right to contribute money to political campaigns;
- The right to advertise commercial products or services;
- The right to engage in symbolic speech and demonstrations.
Free speech encompasses many forms of expression— among them, spoken words, written words, as well as more symbolic and suggestive acts. However, free speech is not boundless; there are some court-ordained limitations to free speech, including:
- Inciting violence;
- Distributing obscene materials;
- Burning draft cards, even as symbolic protest;
- Making obscene speeches at school-sponsored events;
- Publishing articles in a high school student paper over valid objections of the school administration;
- Advocating for illegal drug use at a school event;
- Making or distributing child pornography.
It is important to make note of some blurred lines, as well. For example, it is not legal to speak “fighting words” which might reasonably provoke a person to violence, yet it is constitutionally allowable to say things that might cause real offense to another person or another group. The nexus between free speech and “hate speech” is often debated, and is a topic on which Dhillon Law Group can provide experience and insight.
First Amendment / Free Speech Lawsuits
Dhillon Law Group has provided representation in several highly publicized free speech cases in recent years. Some examples include:
Trump Supporters v. City of San Jose
We are defending the citizens of San Jose against the selective use by law enforcement of tactics that result in restrictions on speech.
Troy Worden v. BAMN Yvette Falarca
We represent Young America’s Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans in a lawsuit challenging UC Berkeley’s imposition of unconstitutional restrictions on campus speech.
Young Americas Foundation, Berkeley College Republicans v. Napolitano
We represent Young America’s Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans challenging unconstitutional restrictions on campus speech based on the content and viewpoints expressed by certain speakers.
First Amendment Attorneys
Dhillon Law Group is passionate about defending its clients against violations of the First Amendment. We are available to counsel clients on what is and is not protected by free speech laws, and to stand beside them when their rights are curtailed. Dhillon Law Group is known for its aggressive and skilled representation, and for our abiding fidelity to the Constitution and the civil rights that it enshrines. To learn more, contact Dhillon Law Group today.
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