The encouragement and allowance of peaceful protest and free speech is a cornerstone of the United States Constitution and is solidified in the First Amendment. Our nation was created from political dispute with England, and angry protests and fiery speeches energized the rebellion. Now, almost 250 years later, political disputes, speeches and demonstrations are once again front and center.
Like all freedoms, there are rules and parameters to be followed and require close judicial scrutiny. Every demonstration and/or speech has unique characteristics, and the behavior of the crowd and the speakers must conform to the established rules or result in sanctions or at times arrest.
In this episode, Bill and Jordan discuss the significance of the First Amendment and how historic court rulings protect the rights of groups and individuals but also balance them against the rights of all citizens. For example, they forbid speech that threatens violence or incites imminent violence or destruction of property (Clear and Present Danger speech). Similarly, they set limits on the right to demonstrate by allowing government entities to set “time, place and manner” restrictions, but they also tell government officials that their decisions must be “content neutral” and can’t favor one group over another because of their beliefs and ideology.