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Civil Liberties
Guide: Freedom of Speech

These resources focus on the concept of freedom of speech and its role in American government, law, and society. Court documents, supporting reference entries, images, and other resources will enhance students' understanding of the constitutional right of freedom of speech and the role it plays in the American democratic system. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • Civil liberties and civil rights are related but distinct and can be in conflict with each other
  • Government documents provide a framework for the protection of civil rights and liberties in a society
  • The judicial branch interprets and defines civil liberties and civil rights as they apply in practice
  • Civil liberties protect against government overreach
  • Civil rights assure equal protection under the law
  • The attainment of civil rights is an ongoing process, with different groups achieving parity at different times
  • The judicial branch is tasked with finding a balance between the protection of individual liberty and maintaining positive social order

Key Questions

  • How have Supreme Court rulings defined the categories of speech that are protected for all Americans?
  • In what ways is freedom of speech protected that are not related specifically to spoken words? For example, think about symbolic speech and campaign finance.


  1. Overview: Freedom of Speech
  2. Visuals: Freedom of Speech (Visual)
  3. Outline: Outline
  4. Transcript: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-Protected vs. Non-Protected Speech
  7. Lesson: 2-The Sedition Act
  8. Lesson: 3-Symbolic Speech
  9. Lesson: 4-Censorship
  10. Lesson: Closing
  11. Photos & Illustrations: Protesters burn American flag
  12. Photos & Illustrations: Students wear tape over their mouth in protest
  13. Reference Articles: Alien and Sedition Acts
  14. Reference Articles: American Civil Liberties Union
  15. Reference Articles: First Amendment
  16. Reference Articles: Free Speech Movement
  17. Reference Articles: Supreme Court: Freedom of Speech Cases
  18. Reference Articles: Symbolic Speech
  19. Biographies: Holmes, Oliver Wendell
  20. Political, Government & Court Documents: Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942)
  21. Political, Government & Court Documents: Cohen v. California (1971)
  22. Political, Government & Court Documents: Schenck v. United States (1919)
  23. Political, Government & Court Documents: Texas v. Johnson (1989)
  24. Political, Government & Court Documents: West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)

MLA Citation

"Freedom of Speech." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2156138?cid=256. Accessed 6 Dec. 2019.

Entry ID: 2156138

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