The United States’ collective understanding of First Amendment freedoms was formed by more than 200 years of tensions between the power of word and the power of the government. During that time, major laws and legal decisions defined the circumstances and degree to which personal expression could be rightfully expressed—and rightfully limited.
This struggle to define the parameters of free speech continues today. Vibrant and passionate debates about First Amendment limitations once inspired by the dissemination of birth control information now address such issues as kneeling during the national anthem, removing controversial books from public libraries, attempts by the Trump administration to discredit the press, and disseminating false or hateful information through social media platforms. By exploring diverse examples of censorship victories and triumphs of free expression, readers will better understand the enormous impact of First Amendment freedoms on American society.
- Chronological history of important milestones, documents, and events that have shaped the nation's understanding of freedom of speech/press and censorship, as well as the limitations of each
- Primary source selection that illuminates the importance of First Amendment freedoms as critical elements of democracy in the United States
- Informative, authoritative, and balanced introductory headnotes for each primary source to help readers understand the context in which they were created
- Readers Guide to Related Documents and sidebars