America's Founders recognized the necessity to republicanism of vigorous public debate and enshrined the right to speak freely in the Bill of Rights for this purpose. This component of the Constitution protects a wide range of speech, including speech we might find disagreeable; this is when the First Amendment's importance becomes most obvious. While the First Amendment's primary purpose was to protect political speech, or preferred speech, its protections do have limits. This lesson explores this essential principle of free speech.
Handout A: Why is Free Speech Essential to Self-Government? (Background Essay)
Handout B: Speech Poster
Handout C: Speech Scenarios
Primary Source Appendices
Founding Principles for ELL
Vocabulary Scaffolding for ELL
Answer Key
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