SIXWhy Free Speech Works

AMERICANS SEEM TO LIKE THE IDEA of free speech, but it’s not clear that they understand it. A couple of recent national surveys show that when asked if the First Amendment goes too far in its protections of free expression, about three in four Americans say it doesn’t.1 This opinion is consistent across political party lines: roughly equal majorities of Democrats and Republicans find the reach of First Amendment protections acceptable.2

But if a comfortably large majority say they are satisfied with what the First Amendment does, few are able to say what that is, at least when quizzed by a pollster. A national survey in early 2006 asked people to name First Amendment rights (speech, press, religion, assembly, petition). ...

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