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First Amendment law is highly complex, even labyrinthine. But, there are fundamental principles in First Amendment law that provide a baseline for a core understanding. These ten fundamental principles are: (1) the First Amendment protects the right to criticize the government; (2) the First Amendment abhors viewpoint discrimination and often content, or subject-matter discrimination; (3) the First Amendment protects a great deal of symbolic speech or expressive conduct; (4) the First Amendment protects a great deal of offensive and even repugnant speech; (5) the First Amendment does not protect all forms of speech; (6) the First Amendment often depends upon the status of the speaker; (7) the first Amendment also protects the right not to speak (the no-compelled speech doctrine); (8) the First Amendment also protects the right to freedom of association; (9) the First Amendment rights of speakers are sometimes limited by the actions or reactions of others; and (10) First Amendment rights are fragile, especially in times of emergency or war. It is the authors’ hope that the articulation of these principles will help many understand and navigate the challenging area of First Amendment free-expression jurisprudence.

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Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2022








Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

David L. Hudson, Jr. & Jacob David Glenn, Fundamental First Amendment Principles, 42 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 271 (2022).

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