Lies- You can be prosecuted for lying under oath in court (it’s called perjury). You can also be chargedwith misleading authorized investigators. It is also illegal to run dishonest advertisements. And if you deliberately tell lies about people, you can be hit with a lawsuit in civil court for either libel (if published)or slander (if spoken).Violence-You can’t make offensive remarks or personal insults that would immediately lead to a fight.You also can’t threaten violence to a specific person unless you’re making an obvious exaggeration (for instance, “I’m going to kill my opponent at the polls”). Finally, you can’t knowingly saythings that cause severe emotional distress or incite others to “immediate lawless action.”In 1951, the Supreme Court concluded in Dennis v. United Statesthat the First Amendment doesn’t protect the speech of people plotting to overthrow the government.Students’ Speech:Students have limited rights of free speech while in school. In 1986, Bethel School District v. Fraserupheld the right of a school to suspend a student for making an obscene speech. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 1988,Offending Your Friends and Coworkers: You don’t have the right to say whatever you want in someoneelse’s home or other private setting. And, as an employee, believe it or not, you have no free-speech rights at your workplace. The Constitution’s right to free speech applies only when the government — not a private entity — is trying to restrict it. For example, an employer can legally fire an employee whose car bears a campaign bumper sticker he doesn’t like.It’s a different matter for government employees. In Elrod v. Burns, the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that the Constitution prohibits government employers from discharging or demoting employees for supporting a particular political candidate.The law also prohibits speech that shows clear intent to discriminate or sexually harass.It also prevents employees in medical or financial fields from discussing confidential information outside of work. Expressing Your Political Views-The law has never permitted Americans to protest in any way they wanted. While the government can’t control what you say, how you say it must be subject to what the courts consider an appropriate time, place, and manner. Legal authorities have a responsibility to protect the safety of attendees at political gatherings and to protect protestors themselves. If authorities think you pose a sufficient risk, you can be restricted to a Free Speech Zone. These have been used since the 1980s, principally to contain protestors at political conventions. House Bill 347authorized Secret Service agents to arrest anyone protesting in the president’s or vice president’s proximity. They also have this authority at National Special Security Events. These events have included state occasions, of course, but also basketball championships, the Academy Awards, Olympic events, and the Super Bowl. A conviction can result in up to 10 years in a federal prison (another place where your freedom of speech is limited).
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