Explore the First Amendment: Freedom of Speech

Free Speech Week

Free Speech Week

Free Speech Week is an annual nonpartisan, nonideological celebration of free speech and press. It raises awareness of the importance of these fundamental First Amendment freedoms in our democracy.

To learn more about the annual celebration, which takes place the third week of October, and how you can participate, visit www.freespeechweek.org

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Free speech may be Americans’ most cherished First Amendment freedom.

A hallmark of democracy, free speech allows people to criticize the government without fear of being punished. Free speech sets the stage for fiery presidential debates and allows campaign ads that are sentimental or searing.

Free speech unleashes comedians to poke fun at our leaders and musicians to express themselves in song. It lets activists, athletes and actors speak out and protest injustice.

But there are limits to free speech. Congress can’t restrict your right to express yourself, but your employer can.

And while social media can be a freewheeling forum for free speech, Facebook and Twitter are cracking down on content that spreads falsehoods or hate speech.

Free speech is everywhere, but not all speech is protected by the First Amendment.

Find out where our rights to free speech start — and stop — with this primer and the Freedom Forum resources below.

Expert Columns

Freedom Forum fellows offer their insights on the right to free speech and the First Amendment.


Perspective: Students, Parents and Free Speech Win in Cheerleading Case
By David Hudson
The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a significant victory for student First Amendment rights in its first-ever social media case at the K-12 level.

More columns:

A Closer Look: Is Your Speech Protected?

Free Speech Essentials

Free Speech Essentials
This collection of lesson plans for teachers explores past and contemporary challenges surrounding free speech and the First Amendment. Sixteen critical debates reveal the foundations, flare-ups and frontiers of this First Amendment freedom.

A Road Map to Free Speech

A Road Map to Free Speech
As you explore your First Amendment freedom of speech, know that it isn’t limitless. Using our free speech road map, consider six specific limits on speech to determine whether you are on the right track or need to hit the brakes.

Is your speech protected by the First Amendment?

Is your speech protected by the First Amendment?
A primer to help you figure out when you have a constitutional right to speak freely.

Free Expression on Social Media

Free Expression on Social Media
An interactive guide to the censorship policies of each major social media platform, and how they compare to each other and to the protections of the First Amendment.


First Five Now

First Five Now: Understanding the First Amendment in Perilous Times
Following an unprecedented week in the history of the nation, the Freedom Forum presents a special program examining how the interpretation of the First Amendment became a nationwide debate.

Jack Weinberg (Steve Marcus, via University of California, Berkeley/The Bancroft Library)

First Five Now: The Free Speech Movement: How It All Began
In celebration of Free Speech Week, First Five Now presents an interview with Jack Weinberg, whose act of civil disobedience 56 years ago helped launch the highly influential and revolutionary Free Speech Movement.

‘Raise Your Voice’

First Five Now: ‘Raise Your Voice’
First Five Now presents a panel discussion, featuring activist Mary Beth Tinker, centered on the new documentary, “Raise Your Voice,” which follows the student journalists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School navigating their school’s mass shooting as both survivors and journalists.

For more upcoming programs, visit our events calendar here.

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It’s Your First Amendment

Join our cause if, like us, you believe the broad understanding and vigorous use of First Amendment freedoms is the best way to preserve and protect them for future generations.

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