One of our most basic freedoms is the Freedom of Speech. Without Freedom of Speech, we don’t have the right to express ourselves or defend ourselves. Our most powerful part of our body is our tongue, and our most powerful weapon is our words. Without Freedom of Speech, our society would be one of oppression. If the government controls our speech, then they control our lives. The founders of our nation recognized this as a fundamental right, and many of them refused to sign the Constitution unless certain rights were clearly defined, such as Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Speech is an essential foundation for a free society that promotes and protects liberty and justice for all.
This is shown in the case of National Institute of Family Life Advocates v. Becerra, where “pro-life” pregnancy clinics were required to provide notices on the availability of abortion by the state of California. This issue was taken to the Supreme Court, where it was decided by a 4–5 vote, which ruled in favor of the National Institute of Family Life Advocates that it was unconstitutional to make “pro-life” clinics provide notices on the availability of abortion. This is important because the State Government was forcing the clinics to say whether or not they supported it. Abortion, for the most part, is supported by the national majority, but that doesn’t mean that the entire nation has to conform to that. This case can also relate to the “protection of the minority.”
Another court case that shows the importance of freedom of speech is Heffernan v. City of Paterson. In this case, Heffernan was demoted for allegedly supporting a candidate that his superiors opposed. In the lower courts, it was ruled Constitutional since Heffernan had not really been supporting the candidate, but the Supreme Court overturned it 6–2 in favor of Heffernan because they believed that the facts of how the superiors saw them were in question. This is important because a person should not be afraid to lose their job or be demoted because they support a specific candidate.
The last case for Freedom of Speech I will go over is The United States v. Alvarez. In this case, Alvarez was lying about receiving a medal of honor. This violated the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. This act would have anyone who lied about receiving a medal of honor would be fined or receive up to a year in prison. The court overturned the Stolen Valor Act on the fact that it violated the Freedom of Speech. It was ruled in favor of Alvarez at 6–3. Even though it was morally wrong for Alvarez to lie, he had the choice of whether or not he would. The government’s job is not to watch over our every action or to make sure we follow a particular moral code but to protect our freedom.
The Freedom of Speech is an essential right. We should control our speech, not the government. There are many flaws in our government but the Freedom of Speech is helping reverse them. A free society is not perfect because people are not perfect, but we do have the tools we need to be successful that are added by the Freedom of Speech. This fundamental right is a crucial part of a free society’s foundation.