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What Is Free Expression?

We often talk about free expression and how it's protected by the First Amendment. Yet the words “free expression” don’t appear anywhere in the 45 words of the First Amendment. So, what is free expression?

While there's no steadfast definition, free expression encompasses all the different ways we use our freedoms to share who we are and what we believe with the world around us. It refers to our ability to share our ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. It's everything from the T-shirt you wear to the actions you take, like flashing a peace sign or kneeling during the national anthem.

The five freedoms of the First Amendment — religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition — are all forms of free expression.

Lata Nott, our fellow for the First Amendment, breaks it all down in the video above.

Our First Five Express videos are quick looks at trending First Amendment topics that tell you what you need to know about your five freedoms.

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