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The First Amendment—what the late, great Nat Hentoff termed “the first freedom”—takes a leading role before the U.S. Supreme Court this term. The justices will decide a trio of cases that could impact a slew of important free speech principles, including commercial speech, the government speech doctrine, online privacy, the right to receive information and ideas, speech vs. conduct and the viewpoint discrimination principle.
From the First Amendment Center, answering questions like:
* Can a public school official legally censor a school-sponsored publication, like a newspaper or yearbook?
* Can a public school legally censor an off-campus, “underground” student publication?
* Don’t certain kinds of harsh or insensitive speech tend to silence others’ free expression, thereby working against the free exchange of ideas?
*What if other students try to prevent distribution of student publications that they find offensive?
* Are public colleges permitted to put any restrictions on the student groups that they will recognize? What if activities advocated by a group are illegal?
* Can a college student invoke his or her religious beliefs to avoid engaging in an objectionable type of artistic expression?
U.S. college students are highly confident that First Amendment rights are secure, yet a slight majority say the climate on campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because others might find it offensive, a Gallup survey has found.
The survey, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute, revealed differences in the attitudes of students and the U.S. population as a whole toward First Amendment rights, as well as differences among male, female, white and minority students about whether it was ever appropriate to restrict free speech.