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Download e-book for kindle: Freedom of Expression by James Magee

By James Magee

Freedom of expression is enshrined within the structure as a sacred correct of the yankee humans. The charm is apparent: Congress shall make no law…abridging the liberty of speech or of the clicking. but the ink had slightly dried at the structure prior to the 1st landmark freedom of expression factor exploded onto the scene. This pupil source lines eleven such matters that experience polarized the state. those occasions express the range, complexity, and depth that freedom of speech and expression concerns engender.Magee illustrates how the USA has labored via those contentious classes with americans' freedoms final intact, if now not stronger. An annotated bibliography follows each one factor to supply avenues for extra learn, and a timeline and normal bibliography offer extra reference aid.

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The Sedition Act, therefore, did not violate this narrow version of freedom of speech. One of America's most prominent constitutional historians, Leonard Levy concluded in a major study, The Legacy of Suppression (1960), tha while it is difficult to pinpoint the exact "original meaning" of freedom of speech or press, there is abundant evidence to support the very nar- 24 Freedom of Expression row Blackstone conception of free speech. Moreover, seditious libel (malicious or false criticism of government or governmental officials—the kind of speech prohibited by the Sedition Act) was a common-law crime, a legacy also of the British legal system into which the American legal system was born.

In 1971, following the Supreme Court's discovery of a right of "marital privacy" in the Bill of Rights, Congress removed the proscriptions on contraception from the Comstock Law. The entry of the United States into World War I led to the greatest repression of speech and dissent that the country had yet witnessed. America entered the war almost three years after it had begun in Europe in August 1914. " But Wilson could not do so, and shortly after his second inauguration, Congress declared war on Germany and, with a barrage of legislation, entrusted to Wilson virtually complete authority to prosecute the war, galvanize public support, and severely punish dissent.

Convicted of obstructing the war effort under the Espionage Act, Debs was sentenced to ten years in prison. His conviction made him a martyr in the cause of socialism. In four presidential elections he had been the Socialist Party's presidential candidate (in 1900, 1904, 1908, and 1912—in the latter, he received more than 900,000 votes—almost 6 percent of all votes cast). The party ran his name for a fifth time in 1920, and from his prison cell he received more than 900,000 votes. Several defendants appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which, in landmark cases raising First Amendment issues, upheld every criminal conviction it reviewed by ruling that the First Amendment did not protect "dangerous" expression.

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