Communication Law

1. Communication Law is primarily about the First Amendment. What different types of speech can you identify that may have different protection under the first amendment? Under the First Amendment many types of speech receive the most stringent levels of protection while others receive little to no protection at all. Political or religious speech are two of the biggest and most important areas of speech that receive the most protection and seem to be at the core of the First Amendment rights. These two types of speech receive a great deal of scrutiny, however that scrutiny is usually never upheld.

Other areas of speech involving obscenities receive no protection under the First Amendment. Commercial speech is an area of speech that in recent years is starting to gain a great deal of protection under the First Amendment. It has been determined that restrictions on commercial speech be subject to intermediate scrutiny. As a result of commercial speech many food and drug regulations have been invalidated. Commercial speech has recently gone from absolutely no protection under the First Amendment to qualified protection. Commercial speech was limited to promotion of commercial activities.

Under the commercial speech doctrine speech does not lose its constitutional protection simply because it appears in a commercial context. Placing want ads in a newspaper is an area of commercial speech that is now protected under this doctrine, however those areas of commercial speech that promote illegal things like employment discrimination is indeed illegal and not protected under the First Amendment. 2. Name and discuss three of the first amendment theories found in the text. Freedom of expression started back in 1791 when the First Amendment was ratified in regards to freedom of the presses.

Since the freedom of expression has changed dramatically with new media outlets like television, radio, and the Internet. Freedom of expression was and is used today as having no prior censorship. It also protects people from punishment after publication. Freedom of expression is quite different today, and today there can be nine different definitions of freedom of expression and are usually based on Supreme Court justices. Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 “forbade false, scandalous, and malicious publications against the U. S. government, congress, and the President” (Pembert & Calvert, 2011, p.48).

The law was used to punish those who sought to cause problems and urged resistance to the government. There were 15 prosecutions under this law, many of which belonged to leading papers in the nation at that time. This law was overturned in 1801 and President Jefferson pardoned all those convicted under this law. Today people are allowed to criticize the government and publicly hold views that do not go along with the government or the current administration with little to no prosecution. Taxation of the presses is another area und the First Amendment that has come under scrutiny.

Taxing of newspapers and other press outlets was deemed unconstitutional. Government could not tax some members of certain branches over others, and taxing against the content of a publication was also found to be unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional also to “rule that selective taxation of the press through the narrow targeting of individual members offends the First Amendment and that a differential taxation of First Amendment speakers is constitutionally suspect when it threatens to suppress the expression of particular ideas or viewpoints” (Pembert & Calvert, 2011, p. 65).

What does prior restraint mean? Why is it important? Prior restraint is an official restriction of speech prior to publication. “Prior restraint refers to an unconstitutional attempt to prevent publication or broadcast of any statement, which is restraint on free speech and free press prohibited by the First Amendment” (USlegal. com, 2010). Areas that are covered under prior restraint are allowed to be published include libel, slander, obvious miss-truths, anti-government feelings and attitudes, racial and religious areas, and most any material where public security or public safety is not compromised.

Public restraint also prohibits felons from profiting off of their crimes. It is used to describe the printing and profiting of illegal crimes. Prior restraint has gone through many revisions since its original inception. Prior restraint is important because it violates First Amendment rights. Free speech and free press should have priority but under prior restraint they do not. “Blackstone’s theory on this subject held that liberty of the press depended on having no prior restraints on publications and not in freedom from punishment when criminal matter is published” (, 2010).

References • Pember, D. R. , & Clavert, C. (2011). Mass media law (17th ed. ). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. First Amendment Religion and Expression Freedom of Expression-Speech and Press . (1996). Retrieved August 16, 2010, from Network Abuse Clearinghouse: http://www. abuse. net/commercial. html Prior restraint law & legal definition. (2010). Retrieved August 16, 2010, from US legal: http://definitions. uslegal. com/p/prior-restraint/