Freedom of Expression and Sedition

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION 9

Freedomof ExpressionandSedition

Freedomof ExpressionandSedition

Thefirstamendmentformsthefoundationof almostalllawsin theUnited States of America that relatesto thefreedomof pressandspeech.Thisamendmentwasadoptedduring 1971 as a fundamentalcomponentof theBill of Rights (Emerson,2012).There havebeensuccessivemeaningsto theprimaryoutlineof theFirst Amendment based on criticaleventsandcourtdecisionsthat ledto legaldevelopmentsrelatingto variousaspectsof freedomof speechandsedition.Theissueof freedomof expressionas carvedin theFirst Amendment ispeggedon a graduatedstructurehavingdisparateregulationsthat are subjectto dissimilarscrutinywhenmakingcourtdecisionsbased on theamendment(Lewis,2010). Thispapershall identifyandexemplifythree distincteventsandlegaldevelopmentsrelatingto thetreatmentof seditionin theAmerican judicialsystem.Thispapershall alsoprovidea concise outlineof differentwaysthrough which theeventsidentifiedhaveaffectedthelimitsof freedomof expressionundertheFirst Amendment oftheU.Sconstitution.

Gitlowv. New York

GitlowVs New York caserefersto a verdictpassedby theSupreme Court intheUnited States regardingparticularprovisionsin theFourteenth Amendment. In thiscasethecourtmadedecisionthatthefourteenth amendmenthadextendedtheboundaryof theFirst Amendment relatingto thedefenseof freedomof expressionto thelocalgovernments(Lewis,2010). Based on thepreceptsof thefirstamendment,thelawmakingbodyin theUnited States,Congress wasmandated to makenolawthat would infringeon thefreedomof expressionandpress.Itis worthnotingthattheFirst Amendment onlymadeprovisionsthat shedrighton thedutyandboundarywithin which Congress would operatebutmadenoreferenceoractionthat would be carriedout by thestateandlocalgovernment.Itis evidentthattheFirst Amendment failsto stipulateanyrestrictionorlimitationregardingtheactivitiesconductedby thelocalandstategovernmentsto contravenethepressfreedomandfreedomof expression(Emerson,2012).

ButthiswasthesituationintheGitlow Vs New York casethatchallengedtheoperationabilityandexecutionof theFirst Amendment on issuesrelatingto freedomof expressionby thelocalgovernment.Rightto freepressandfreedomofspeechare fundamentallibertiesandrightthat haveprovisionsunderthedueprocesshingedon theFourteenth Amendment.In recordruling,theHigh Court heldthejudgmentthattheapplicability of theFirst Amendment wasnot in anywaylimitedin thescopeofthe nationalgovernmentandCongress. Nonetheless,therulingby theSupreme Court wasdifferentfrom thatmadeby theHigh Court (Lewis,2010). Thedecisionby theSupreme Court waspeggedon theassumptionthatthefreedomof pressandspeechare safeguarded from violationby Congress under theFirst Amendment. Theintentionandimport of theFourteenth Amendment wasto protectindividuallibertiesandrightsfrom impairment by thegovernmentbothat thenationalandlocallevel (Emerson,2012).Asa consequence,theUnited States Supreme Court linkedtheFirst andtheFourteenth Amendment with a explicitconsiderationtowards theduesectionsetup in theFourteenth Amendment which preventsanyformof dispossession regardingrightto liberty,lifeandpropertyby thestatewithout properadherence to thedueprocessof thelaw.In thesamevein,theFourteenth Amendment limitstheauthorityof thestatesfrom violatingthefreedomof pressandexpression(Lewis,2010).

Theimportanceof therulingof theGitlow Vs New York is thatitledto an concessionby theUnited States High Court thattheBill of Rights as outlinedin theFirst Amendment has limitationsrelatingto theactioncarriedout by thefederalandlocalgovernment.Itservedastheveryfirstcasedeclarationto identifythattheprotectionof thefreedomof speechandpresss stipulated in theFirst Amendment appliedto thefederalandlocalgovernments.Gitlow illustratesthatthefreedomofpressandspeechhas proviso in theFourteenth Amendment, whathas commonlycometo be referredto as theincorporationdoctrine(Emerson,2012).Theprovisionsrelatingto thefreedomof pressandspeechdelineatedin theFirst Amendment havebeenintegratedtotheFourteenth Amendment dueprocesssectionrelatingto theapplicability of theprimarylibertiesof thefederal,stateandlocalgovernments.At thepresent,manyof theelementsof theBill of Rights relatingto thefreedomof pressandspeechhavespecificationsin theFourteenth Amendment. Thismeansthatthefederal,stateandcitiesgovernmentcannot infringewith theissuesconcerningthefreedomof pressandspeech.Thishighlights theimport of theGitlow Vs New York casebecauseitwasthebeginningof theconsciousnessof totalmeasureconcerningcivilrightsforindividualslivingin theUnited States, andmoreparticularlypertainingfreedomof expression(Emerson,2012).

Whitneyversus California

WhitneyVs California casewasone of thegreatestteststo theFirst Amendment andhadconsiderableweighton thelimitsof freedomof expression.TheSupreme Court in theUnited States verdictmaintainedconvictionof an American citizenwhousedspeedthat hadtheprospectsof elevating perilto thesociety(Emerson,2012).AnAmerican citizenby thename,Anita Whitney wasfoundguiltyoftheCriminal Syndicalism Act of thestateof California forfacilitatingthecreationof theCommunist Labor partythat hadthetargetandintentof usingviolenceto topplethedemocratically electedgovernment(Tushnet, 2008).Theprécisof theruleof lawwaspeggedon theprovisothata statecan limittheactof forminga groupthat supportsandencouragestheuseof violenceandcriminalactivitiesto attaintheir objectivesthat can argumentthepotentialthreatto thepublicinterest.TheprimaryconcerninthecasewaswhethertheState Syndicalism Act would serveto violatetherightsof Americans as stipulated in theFirst Amendment.

TheWhitney Vs California is a casethatbestillustratesan excellentexampleof protectionof freedomof expression.Thiscasesis wellknownforits concurrence by Justice Brandeis, thatthere wasnoforeseenperilaccruedfrom speech,andwhich can be consideredto be preciseandpresentwith theexceptionofcaseswheretheadverseeffectsshall takeplacebefore there is an opportunityto evaluateandinvestigatethespeech(Tushnet, 2008).Based on thepreceptsof theverdictof theHigh Court, speechcan onlybe curtailedin circumstanceswherethere arelimitedoccurrencesthat can leadto dreadfulemergency.TheSupreme Court intheUnited States providesa totaldeferencein respectto thelegislativeintentof suchactionsandpresumes a legitimateobjective.Everycitizenin theUnited States has a rightto freedomof expression,eventhoughthisisnot viewedas absoluteprivilege.This,therefore, meansthatthereis a chancethatthestatecan curtaila speechthat potentiallyimperilstheoperationsof thegovernmentandinfringeswith thepublicwelfare(Lewis,2010).

Indefenseof thefreedomof speech,JusticeBrandeis hangedhis thesison theconnectionthat existsbetween theprocessdemocratization andfreedomof expression.Itis paramountthatallAmerican citizensperforman essentialfunctionin thegoverning process,andthiscan onlybe attainediftheyare accordeda chanceto criticizetheincumbentgovernmentwithout anyshredof fearorintimidation(Tushnet, 2008).

Ifthescenariooccurswhentheincumbentgovernmentadministers unpopularopinions,thenby farandlargeitis infringingon thefreedomof speechandconsequently impairstheprocessof democracy(Tushnet, 2008). Therefore,freedomof expressioncannot be construedto be onlyan abstractvirtue,butalsoa crucialelementin thesocietythat is meantto be democratic.In accordwith theverdictof theSupreme Court, statescan administerpenaltieson speechesthat havea tendencyof probablyinitiatinginfringementin thewelfareof thepublicandhenceinterferencewith theoperationsof thegovernment.

Brandenburgv. Ohio

Threatsleveledagainst thenationalandstategovernmentsare normallya substantialimpedimentrelatingto thefreedomof pressandspeech.Based on theprovisionsof theFirst Amendment, Conges is accordedpowersto passlegislationsthat interferewith thefreedomof pressandspeech.In theamendmentthestateandlocalgovernmentsare alsosupposedto followthisprovisionrelatingto freedomof expression,andin linewith thedueprocesssectionssetupin theFourteenth Amendment (Lewis,2010). Theprimaryinferenceis thatthegovernmentislimitedfrom executingpenaltiestothe Americancitizenandotherbodieswhentheyexpresstheir mind.Itis a widespreadphenomenonforgovernmentto thwartcasesof insurgency directedtoward them. In theUnited States, thefreedomof expressionsafeguards therightthatAmerican Citizens haveto criticizeactionscarriedout by thegovernmentandvoicetheir opinionsrelatingto thewaythatthosein powershould changegovernance. Animportantareaof concernin sucha caseis whethera citizenhas a rightto directaggressionagainst thegovernmentorpressurethegovernment.Inthe caseof Brandenburg v. Ohio`sthiswasthecriticalareaof concern.Thiswasthe casein theSupreme Court of theUnited States that waspeggedon theprovisoof theFirst Amendment (Pember &amp Clay, 2011). Thejudgesarguedthatthegovernmentcannot administerpenaltiesdirectedtowards seditiousspeecheswith theexceptionforsituationswhereitis construedbeyond doubtto be incitingandhencecan leadto lawlessactions.

Froma superficialstandpoint,theSupreme Court tookprimacyto thecriminalSyndicalism Statute of Ohio that candidlylimitsabsoluteadvocacyforviolence.Thenarrowviewpointin which theSupreme Court overlookedtheBrandenburg constitutionalargumentis not unexpectedin theframeworkof theFirst Amendment before to theBrandenburg period(Pember &amp Clay, 2011). Asa consequence,theU.S Supreme Court circumventtheconvictionontheBrandenburg case,arguingthatthestateandlocalgovernmentcannot executepenaltiesforadvocacyof forcepeggedon a constitutionalbasis.Anoteworthyupshotrelatingto thefreedomof expressionin thepostBrandenburg periodis thattheFirst Amendment providedtermsto safeguard speechwith theexceptionof itmay be construedas unlawful(Pember &amp Clay, 2011).Theverdictof thesupremecourtof theU.S.A. wasarrivedat after makingdistinctionbetween two typesof speech,whichwhich encouragesinstantviolenceandonewhichis meantto criticizeforbettergovernance.

Conclusion

Thethree legalcasesreviewedin thispapershowshowdifficultandconflictingare treatmentandinterpretationof lawsin theAmerican judicialsystem.Thefirstamendmentformsthefoundationof almostalllawsin theUnited States of America that relatesto thefreedomof pressandspeech.Thisamendmentwasadoptedduring 1971 as a fundamentalcomponentof theBill of Rights. There havebeensuccessivemeaningsto theprimaryoutlineof theFirst Amendment based on criticaleventsandcourtdecisionsthat ledto legaldevelopmentsrelatingto variousaspectsof freedomof speechandsedition.Even though Courts shall continue to exercise their powers to reviewlegislation, the First Amendment allows Americans to sustainlegislations that continuously suppress the freedom of press andspeech. The First Amendment as can be construed from this review isnot likely to safeguard any but conventional view that hardly everneeds it protection.

References

Emerson,T.I.(2012).Towarda General Theory of the First Amendment.Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. Retrieved from:http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3769&ampcontext=fss_papers

Lewis,A. (2010). Freedomfor the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment.New York: Perseus Books Group

Pember,D., &amp Clay, L. (2011). MassMedia Law.New York: Mc GrawHill .Strum, P. (1993). Brandeis: BeyondProgressivism. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Tushnet,M. (2008).I dissent: Great Opposing Opinions in Landmark Supreme Court Cases.Boston: Beacon Press.