First Amendment: Time, Place, Manner Regulations & Censorship | Lindsay Maizland | April 09, 2016


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First Amendment: Time, Place, Manner Regulations & Censorship

by Lindsay Maizland Show/Hide
  1. 1 Show/Hide More Summary
    Original Creator: Lindsay Maizland

    The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from legislating various laws. These include, but not limited to: impeding the exercise of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, restricting the right to peacefully assemble, or prohibiting the right to petition for a governmental redress of grievances.

    Among one of ten amendments within the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment was put forth on December 15, 1791. It’s original interpretation was far more narrow than today, making First Amendment issues among the most complicated within the American judicial system. One of the most prominent First Amendment case was Near v. Minnesota, 238 U.S. 697 (1931) where the midwestern state filed a permanent injunction, or gag law, against a man for publishing an Anti-semitic newspaper that was considered a “public nuisance.” The defendant argued that this violated his First Amendment right of free speech and press. In the end, the Constitution favored Near, saying that censorship is almost always unconstitutional unless the information threatens national security.   

    Other cases such as Cohen v. California, where a man was charged for disturbing the peace for wearing a “Fuck the Draft” jacket, or Snyder v. Phelps, when the Westboro Baptist Church protested a U.S. soldier’s funeral, illustrates that the First Amendment is ever evolving in its interpretation, but nonetheless is at the base of all communications law.

    The first amendment also clearly applies to artistic expression, even film, regardless of its indirect outcomes. In Byers v. Edmondson, plaintiffs suing on behalf of the victims of violent crimes included Oliver Stone as a defendant because his film Natural Born Killers may have inspired the real life crime. Although the case was considered a valid one, it was decided that because there was no proof that Stone intended to incite violence, his film was protected speech.

    SOURCE: and individual case analyses summaries.

    1. 2.2 Show/Hide More YouTube Video Freedom of Speech Summary
      YouTube Video Freedom of Speech (Source: Crash Course Government and Politics)
    2. 2.3 Show/Hide More Important Terms
      Important definitions of terms relevant to First Amendment law.
    3. 2.5 Show/Hide More Classroom Hypothetical
      Classroom Hypothetical. Source: United States Courts (
    1. 3.1 Show/Hide More Snyder v. Phelps by Roxanne Cecil
      Original Creator: Lindsay Maizland
      In March 2006, Albert Snyder, the father of the late U.S. Marine, Matthew Snyder, sued the Westboro Baptist Church, an ultra-conservative group known for their intolerance of homosexuality, for picketing his son’s funeral. In the end, the main issues were time, manner, and place, and the Fourth Circuit of Appeals decided that the Westboro Baptist Church’s speech was protected due to the fact that it was related to a public issue and disseminated on a public sidewalk.
    2. 3.2 Show/Hide More Near v. Minnesota Analysis by Jacob Atkins
      Original Creator: Lindsay Maizland
      New precedents on prior restraint and censorship were formed when the Supreme Court prevented Minnesota's governor from prohibiting the publication of a controversial newspaper denouncing state officials of malfeasance in 1931. Despite the governor’s attempt to establish a permanent injunction over The Saturday Press under Minnesota’s Public Nuisance Law of 1925, it was eventually overturned and deemed unconstitutional to do so. In the process, the federal court upheld freedom of the press to the highest extent.
      1. 3.2.2 Show/Hide More Near v. Minnesota Video Summary

        This YouTube video showcases an array of primary source documents dating back to the era of Near v. Minnesota. Since the constitutional battle stemmed from accusations of statewide corruption, this short documentary provides context regarding The Saturday Press’ portrayal of Minneapolis as a city “where the people were drunk, satisfied, and left the law enforcement and running of the city to crock politicians and strong-armed gangsters.” For example, police officers are seen standing on the top of motorcycles, in addition to a person gunned down in a vehicle. Although these photos illustrate Near’s and Guilford’s allegations, the video also introduces the style of “Yellow Journalism” that the duo was adhering to, for both of them published exaggerated or sensationalized articles to instigate societal reforms.


    3. 3.3 Show/Hide More Byers v. Edmonson Analysis by Ford Fischer
      Original Creator: Lindsay Maizland
      In March of 1995, Sarah Edmondson and her boyfriend Benjamin James Darras watched Natural Born Killers, then killed one person and severely injured another. When the victims' families filed suit, they named the filmmakers as a defendant and claimed that they were also responsible for inspiring the act. The court ultimately held that filmmaking is protected speech even if it may inspire violence.

      1. 3.3.1 Show/Hide More Byers v. Edmonson Analysis by Ford Fischer
        Byers v. Edmonson Analysis by Ford Fischer
      2. 3.3.2 Show/Hide More "Natural Born Copycats" YouTube Video
        When a young couple murders one and severely injures another, do the victims have a tort against a filmmaker who potentially inspired them? In Byers v. Edmondson, the courts found that Oliver Stone could not be held liable for his film inspiring violence. This video summarizes the case and its conclusion.
    4. 3.4 Show/Hide More Cohen v. California by Lindsay Maizland
      Original Creator: Lindsay Maizland
      In April 1968, Paul Robert Cohen carried a jacket with the words “fuck the draft” written on the back into a California court house. He was arrested, and in a landmark case, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling, subsequently protecting the use of potentially-offensive language.
      1. 3.4.1 Show/Hide More Cohen v. California Analysis by Lindsay Maizland
        Cohen v. California Analysis by Lindsay Maizland

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April 09, 2016

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Lindsay Maizland

American University

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