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For each article, groups should consider both the relevant policy question and the related constitutional question (here is a student handout).“Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Banning Political Apparel at Polling Sites” by Adam Liptak (June 14, 2018)Policy Question: Should voters be able to wear whatever they want to the polling booth? Constitutional Question: Does the First Amendment allow the government to limit what voters can wear to the polling booth?
After reading their article, groups should also discuss the following question: Why is it difficult for scholars, judges and lawmakers to balance robust (strong) speech protections with the necessity of maintaining a peaceful society? Finally, have them revisit the hypothetical situations a third time, discussing them as a group. What constitutional questions did it raise, and what did students think?
On their individual handout, students should circle any answer they want to change from the previous two rounds. In addition, they can share any disagreements or changed opinions they have about the hypothetical situations.
Then, have students read and annotate an essay explaining the ways in which the Supreme Court has interpreted the freedom of speech.
This essay, “Freedom of Speech and of the Press,” by the constitutional law scholars Geoffrey R.
Before moving on, it’s worth having the class discuss why they think the freedom of speech is an important right and why it is particularly important in a democracy, where people choose their political leaders.
Some thoughts that may emerge in the conversation could include the ideas that citizens need to be able to speak freely in order to make effective electoral decisions, oversee government actions, participate in the policymaking process and hold politicians accountable.
Constitutional Question: Does the First Amendment protect the speech rights of controversial or “offensive” public speakers on college campuses?
Does the First Amendment treat government-run colleges (public colleges) differently than private colleges? What policy questions did it raise, and what did students think?
Students are allowed and encouraged to switch sides as they are swayed.• Students may explain any way in which their understanding has changed, including differences between high- and low-value speech, the lack of protection that citizens have against corporations or employers, the actions that have been interpreted as speech, or anything else they may have learned over the course of the lesson.4.
When can the United States government limit the freedom of speech?