Although “Freedom of Expression” is not explicitly mentioned in the First Amendment, the concept of freedom of expression is inherently bound up with the freedoms off speech, of the press, of association, and of assembly, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. The Supreme Court has said that this freedom is “the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.”
An indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom.Freedom of expression has become one of the most fundamental values in American society. Freedom of expression asserts the worth of each individual, and safeguards a person’s right to express their own ideas and opinions. This freedom to share and seek out ideas is necessary to gaining knowledge and advancing understanding. Freedom of Expression also plays an absolutely critical role in helping keep an elected government in check.
Limits on Freedom of Expression
The Supreme Court has been clear that the Freedom of Expression is not absolute. John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, writes that “the only purpose for which power can rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” Many limitations on the freedom of expression are to make sure one person does not use their rights to harm another. Categories of expression that are not afforded protection by the courts under the First Amendment include obscenity and incitement to illegal activity.
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