10 Rights the First Amendment Absolutely Does Not Grant
You’ve seen the headlines dozens of times. A movie star or professional athlete gets fired for making an insulting or racist comment during a TV interview. The person’s response: “Last time I checked, it’s a free country!”
That’s true. The First Amendment to the U.S. CONSTITUTION guarantees the right to freedom of speech. But that doesn’t mean that people won’t be offended by your words or that the First Amendment protects the right to say anything, anywhere or anytime without repercussions.
So does that mean you can say absolutely anything to anyone at any time? Absolutely not. The Supreme Court and lower courts have identified TEN types of speech that are not protected under the First Amendment [source: First Amendment Center]:
• Fighting words
• Defamation (including libel and slander)
• Child pornography
• Harm to others
• Incitement to imminent lawless action
• True threats
• Solicitations to commit crimes
These particular types of speech are unprotected because they either actively break the law, incite others to break the law, or create a potentially violent or unsafe situation.