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The First Amendment speaks to the very heart of what it means to be an American.In guaranteeing the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, it ensures that each and every individual in the United States is offered some rudimentary inalienable rights With these rights comes the inescapable task of responsibility.These responsibilities were not clearly delineated in the constitution.In fact, the notion of free speech has been challenged to a great degree in that it is very esoteric in nature and when exercised to the full extent, it holds the potential of endangering lives.This paper will present an in-depth examination of the right to free speech and the notion that there should be a limit placed on such a right.First and foremost, the First Amendment refers to the rudimentary freedom of expression.At the forefront of the freedom of expression is the notion of freedom of speech.This freedom facilitates the expression of individuals without the interference or constraint of the government—federal or state. It, however, operates under the assumption that this freedom may be limited if it proves to be detrimental to others or infringes upon the rights of others. One such case is one in which a person’s freedom to speak serves to effectively and efficiently facilitate a breach of peace or cause violence. In those cases the Supreme Court places a stringent requirement on the government wherein there must be a justification for the actions of the government to interfere or otherwise regulate those rights. Freedom of speech is not limited to verbal expression. It extends to other mediums which facilitate communication (Cornell School of Law-First Amendment, http:// treatments of freedom of speech in the United States tend to be Court-based, meaning they focus primarily or entirely on Supreme Court decisions. Studies such as James E. Leahy’s The First Amendment. 1791-1991: Two Hundred Years of Freedom (1991), Rodney A. Smolla’s Free Speech in an Open Society (1992), James Brewer Stewart’s The Constitution, the Law, and Freedom of Expression, 1787-1987 (1987) and Cass R. Sunstein’s Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech (1993) all exhibit a similar tendency-the tendency to frame or categorize Free Speech in terms of various “issues.” and then to clarify each of those issues by relying on specific, “landmark” decisions, or a chronology of decisions, by the Supreme Court. In A Worthy Tradition: Freedom of Speech in America, for example. Harry Kalven, Jr. begins by exploring the concept of “Content”-in terms of “Heresy and Blasphemy” (Cantwell v. Connecticut, 1940: Burstyn v. Wilson, 1952: Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968: Torcaso v. Watkins, 1961) then “False Doctrine” (Kingsley Pictures v. Regents. 1959: Street v. New York. 1969): and “Taste” (Hannegan v. Esquire. 1946: Winters v. New York. 1948: Cohen v. California. 1971. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. 1942).

While limited in ways, these approaches do reveal one important thing-the inadequacy of these definitions of Free Speech. At the very least, they show that the various Courts have always been in the business of weighing Freedom of Speech against other interests and values- which is to say that the Courts have never construed Freedom of Speech as even remotely absolute.

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