Missouri Legal Update

2021 Lesson 1: First Amendment Law

Legal

2021 Lesson 1: First Amendment Law

Legal

Release Date: 

1/1/2021

This is an online legal studies course regarding First Amendment law. Section one addresses the right to assemble. It examines public forums and nonpublic forums and explains that the government is more limited it its ability to regulate speech in public forums. This section explores examples of protected activities and non-protected activities as well as constitutional and unconstitutional anti-assembly ordinances.


Section two addresses when law enforcement officers may use force against protesters by examining actual cases.


Section three addresses symbolic speech, including tents on public property, cross burning, and flag burning. The section examines when symbolic speech is protected by the First Amendment and when it is not.


Section four examines categories of unprotected speech, including fighting words, true threats, speech inciting imminent lawless action, obscenity, child pornography, defamation, fraud, and speech integral to criminal conduct. It provides actual case examples where officers had to determine whether certain speech was protected by the First Amendment or criminalized.


Section five addresses speech directed at police officers. It explains that officers are expected to exercise a higher degree of restraint than ordinary citizens when responding to fighting words. It also explains an officer’s duty not to retaliate in response to protected First Amendment activity. Finally, it addresses when officers will be protected by qualified immunity from retaliatory arrest lawsuits.


Section six addresses the right of people to record public police activity and provides actual case examples.


Section seven examines the First Amendment rights of police officers. It examines when law enforcement officer speech is protected by the First Amendment and provides examples of when it is not.