Should Freedom of Speech Have Limits?

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Should Freedom of Speech have Limits? Why or Why Not? Introduction First Amendment protection of free speech has long been recognized to be essential to democratic governance, in part because social progress would stagnate without the free exchange of ideas between citizens. However, there are practical limits to what constitutes protected free speech and these limits have been codified into law by Congress and enforced by the federal courts. This essay will argue that the First Amendment is important to protecting the democratic process, but also that the limits placed on those protections are just as important. Dissident Speech and Material Support During the buildup before the United States entered World War I the executive branch and Congress became so concerned about antiwar speech that they effectively outlawed it with passage of the Espionage Act in June 1917 (Finan, 2007, pp. 8-10). The wording of the Act made it a federal crime to make ""¦ false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces." While newspaper publishers were able to end an attempt to limit the press as well, publishers who relied on the U.S. Postal System were not so lucky. The Espionage Act gave the Postmaster General broad powers to censure publications and other mailed materials that were ""¦ advocating or urging treason, insurrection, or forcible resistance to any law of the United States." When the first Espionage Act cases eventually
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