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Professor Roy Gutterman L'00 Provides CNN With a First Amendment Explainer

Posted on Wednesday 1/13/2021
Roy Gutterman

The First Amendment doesn't guarantee you the rights you think it does

CNN | Jan. 12, 2021

Read the full article.

Scenario: You are banned from a social media platform.

This is not a First Amendment issue, though plenty of people think it is.

Scenario: You are fired from you job for something you say in public or online.

If you work for a private company, it's probably not a First Amendment issue.

Scenario: A university or public group cancels a speech or presentation by a controversial figure.

If it's a private institution, it's probably not a First Amendment issue. If it's a public institution, the lines can get blurry.

Scenario: You are arrested for saying something critical of the government.

Definitely a First Amendment issue. But, like pretty much everything in law, there are exceptions and nuances.

Scenario: Your comment or post is deleted on an online forum.

It's a private company, so it's not a First Amendment issue.

Scenario: You are arrested for recording police activities in public.

A First Amendment issue -- usually.

What speech isn't covered under the First Amendment?

  • Obscenity
  • Fighting words
  • Defamation
  • Child pornography
  • Perjury
  • Blackmail
  • Incitement to imminent lawless action
  • True threats
  • Solicitations to commit crimes
  • Plagiarism of copyrighted material