First Amendment Freedoms in Communications

The First Amendment is an important component of American society because this Amendment is a foundation for American culture. This Amendment is the cornerstone of how the public accesses, consumes, and distributes information. Packard (2010) defines the freedoms expressed in the First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances (p. 22).

A person working in any field of communications should be aware of how the First Amendment affects that field. Journalists, newscasters, bloggers, and political aficionados are scrutinizing the statements of the candidates in the upcoming Presidential election. When questioned about the compatibility of Islam and the United States Constitution, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson indicated he would not support a Muslim leader (BBC, 2015).   Freedom of the press is critical for journalists and the like to offer American citizens vetted information so that Americans can vote for the most qualified Presidential candidate.

Even though the freedoms expressed in the First Amendment are relatively clear, certain situations warrant limitations of expression. Fighting words, threats, harassment, hate speech, pornography, obscenity, indecency, and defamation are situations where limitations are imposed and can override First Amendment expressions (Hodges and Worona, 1997). The limitations that encompass these scenarios are in place to ensure public safety and happiness. Conflicts, indecency and defamation can lead to licentiousness, impropriety, and the potential loss of social order.


BBC. (2015, September 29). Viewpoint: Islamophobia has a long history in the US. Magazine. Retrieved from

Hodges, M. W., & Worona, S. L., (1997). The First Amendment in Cyberspace. Cause/Effect. Retrieved from

Packard, A. (2010). Digital media law. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.


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