Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. The freedom is not absolute; the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized several categories of speech that are excluded from the freedom of speech, and it has recognized that governments may enact reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech.
Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy are almost always permitted. There are exceptions to these general protections, including the Miller test for obscenity, child pornography laws, speech that incites imminent lawless action, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Within these limited areas, other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as rights for authors and inventors over their works and discoveries (copyright and patent), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons (restrictions on fighting words), or the use of untruths to harm others (slander). Distinctions are often made between speech and other acts which may have symbolic significance.
Despite the exceptions, the legal protections of the First Amendment are some of the broadest of any industrialized nation, and remain a critical, and occasionally controversial, component of American jurisprudence.
Famous quotes containing the words united states, freedom of, freedom, speech, united and/or states:
“The United States never lost a war or won a conference.”
—Will Rogers (18791935)
“The freedom of each individual can only be the freedom of all.”
—Friedrich Dürrenmatt (19211990)
“If parents award freedom regardless of whether their children have demonstrated an ability to handle it, children never learn to see a clear link between responsible behavior and adult privileges.”
—Melinda M. Marshall (20th century)
“Grammar is a tricky, inconsistent thing. Being the backbone of speech and writing, it should, we think, be eminently logical, make perfect sense, like the human skeleton. But, of course, the skeleton is arbitrary, too. Why twelve pairs of ribs rather than eleven or thirteen? Why thirty-two teeth? It has something to do with evolution and functionalismbut only sometimes, not always. So there are aspects of grammar that make good, logical sense, and others that do not.”
—John Simon (b. 1925)
“Hollywood ... was the place where the United States perpetrated itself as a universal dream and put the dream into mass production.”
—Angela Carter (19401992)
“Not only [are] our states ... making peace with each other,... you and I, your Majesty, are making peace here, our own peace, the peace of soldiers and the peace of friends.”
—Yitzhak Rabin (b. 1922)