This is an index page for court cases involving the First Amendment, organized by topic.
Topics are listed alphabetically from Academic Freedom to Zoning. Click on a topic to see a list of court cases with links to summaries of the rulings. Some court cases will appear under multiple topics.
The court cases include more than 870 rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts involving First Amendment freedoms from 1804 to present.
- Academic Freedom (5)
Sweezy v. New Hampshire (1957) stands as the first U.S. Supreme Court case to expound upon the concept of academic freedom though some earlier cases...
- Adult Businesses and Nude Dancing (10)
Adult entertainment establishments are subject to an array of zoning and licensing requirements. A typical regulation provides that adult businesses cannot be...
- Anonymous Speech (5)
This is a list of First Amendment cases involving protection of anonymous speech. The Supreme Court has protected anonymity under the First Amendment, but as...
- Anti-Abortion Protests and Free Speech (8)
This is a list of First Amendment cases involving anti-abortion protests and free speech. Abortion has been one of the most volatile issues in the United...
- Anti-Discrimination Laws (16)
This is a list of First Amendment cases involving discrimination laws and policies. Laws and policies established to protect individuals from discrimination...
- Antitrust Laws and the First Amendment (6)
Over the years, Congress has adopted legislation to discourage the concentration of business ownership in the United States. The Sherman Antitrust Act, for...
- Attorney Advertising and Free Speech (9)
Attorney advertising presents challenging First Amendment issues for the courts. Laws that attempt to protect the public from deceptive or coercive ads must be...
- Bad Tendency Test (2)
The bad tendency test was mostly used to determine whether criticism of World War I was protected by the First Amendment. The end result of the bad tendency...
- Bar Admissions and Freedom of Association (9)
The bar admission process has led to First Amendment challenges by applicants who wanted to practice law but were denied because of political associations or...
- Blasphemy and Profane Speech (6)
These are First Amendment cases related to free speech and blasphemy or profane speech. Blasphemy laws have disappeared in the United States, but their remnants...
- Blue Laws and Religious Freedom (7)
This is a list of significant court cases related to blue laws and religious freedom. The establishment clause of the First Amendment prohibits any law “...
- Book Banning and Libraries (6)
This is a list of significant court cases related to book banning and libraries. The cases cover disputes such as the breadth of the authority of local school...
- Broadcasting Regulations (20)
This is a list of significant court cases related to broadcasting regulations. The Federal Communications Commission regulates radio, television and cable...
- Campaign Finance and Other Political Campaign Regulations (28)
The regulation of political campaigns has led to numerous Supreme Court rulings involving free speech rights embodied in the First Amendment. Issues have...
- Charitable Solicitations and Freedom of Speech (8)
Almost all states regulate charitable solicitations, but some laws have been ruled unconstitutional under the free speech provisions of the First Amendment....
- Child Pornography Laws (6)
Child pornography, a form of sexual expression depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, is not entitled to First Amendment protection. It is...
- Church Property and Governance (20)
Courts have sometimes been called upon to consider religious freedom rights under the First Amendment in settling disputes over church property and governance.&...
- Civil Rights Movement and the First Amendment (14)
The First Amendment proved to be a crucial tool for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, as ministers preached, protesters marched, organizations...
- Clear and Present Danger Test (8)
Early in the 20th century, the Supreme Court established the clear and present danger test as the predominant standard for determining when speech is protected...
- Commercial Speech (28)
Commercial speech is a form of protected communication under the First Amendment, but it does not receive as much free speech protection as forms of...
- Communist Organizations and Freedom of Association (14)
The Supreme Court developed several First Amendment doctrines in cases growing out of conflict between various members of the Communist Party and federal and...
- Compelled Speech (18)
The compelled speech doctrine sets out the principle that the government cannot force an individual or group to support certain expression. Thus, the First...
- Confederate Flag and Student Speech (3)
The Confederate flag continues to generate controversy and impassioned debates with implications for the First Amendment. Here are some cases at the federal...
- Conscientious Objection and Religious Freedom (13)
Conscientious objection to military service refers to the position taken by individuals who oppose participation in war on the basis of their religious, moral,...
- Contempt of Court (9)
Under English common law, courts had intended the power to punish individuals who showed contempt for their authority on the theory that such contempts were...
- Content-based laws (10)
- Copyright and Free Expression (8)
The Supreme Court acknowledged the compatibility of copyright and free expression in Harper and Row v. Nation Enterprises (1985), when Justice ...
- Corporations (First Amendment Rights) (19)
Corporate speech refers to the rights of corporations to advertise their products and to speak to matters of public concern. Commercial speech, as manifested...
- Counterspeech Doctrine (4)
The counterspeech doctrine posits that the proper response to negative speech is to counter it with positive expression. It derives from the theory that...
- Creationism / Intelligent Design and Separation of Church and State (3)
Creationism and intelligent design are religious beliefs that have sometimes resulted in questions about what can be taught in public schools about the origin...
- Criminal Syndicalism Laws (10)
Numerous states and U.S. territories enacted criminal syndicalism laws in the late 1910s and early 1920s with the purpose of making it illegal for individuals...
- Cross Burning and Free Speech (2)
Since the 1950s, a number of states have passed laws banning cross burnings. The constitutionality of these laws did not reach the Supreme Court until the...
- Dress and Hair Regulations (9)
Dress codes are typically implemented by school districts and employers to promote learning, safety, and image. Although such regulations face First...
- Election Regulations and Ballot Access (24)
- Espionage Act (12)
Congress enacted the Espionage Act of 1917 on June 15, two months after the United States entered World War I. The Espionage Act of 1917 prohibited...
- Establishment Clause (78)
The first clause in the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” For...
- Expressive Conduct / Symbolic Speech (11)
Expressive conduct is behavior designed to convey a message; its function as speech means that it has increasingly been protected by the First Amendment. Two...
- Fighting Words and Free Speech (11)
- Flag (Treatment of) (6)
- Flag Salute and Compelled Speech (6)
- Free Exercise of Religion (48)
- Freedom of Assembly (11)
Governments may not violate the constitutional right of peaceable assembly, which is one of the rights outlined in the First Amendment of the Constitution of...
- Freedom of Association (21)
The freedom of association — unlike the rights of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition — is a right not listed in the First...
- Freedom of the Press (35)
- Gag Orders and Free Speech (4)
- Government Funding Restrictions on Speech (12)
- Government Investigations and Freedom of Association (9)
- Government Speech Doctrine (5)
- Grand Jury Proceedings and Freedom of Speech (2)
- Hate Speech (5)
- Immigrants, Aliens, Foreigners, First Amendment Rights of (13)
- Incitement (10)
- Incorporation / Application of the Bill of Rights to the States (9)
- Inside courtrooms (5)
- Internet and Social Media (13)
- Jailhouse Lawyers and Access to Courts (2)
- Jehovah's Witnesses and Free Speech (22)
- Jurisdictional and Standing Issues in First Amendment Cases (22)
- Jury Issues (4)
- Libel and Slander (50)
- License Plates and Free Speech (2)
- Licensing Requirements (8)
- Liquor Licenses and Regulations (5)
- Lobbying (1)
- Loitering Ordinances (1)
- Lotteries (3)
- Loyalty Oaths (13)
- Mail (16)
- Marketplace of Ideas (1)
- Military (16)
- Movies, Video Games, and Comics (18)
- Native American Religion (3)
- Neutrality of religion (10)
- Noise Regulations (3)
- Obscenity and Pornography (65)
- Overbreadth (11)
- Parochial Schools (25)
- Petition, Right to (5)
- Picketing (31)
- Polygamy (5)
- Preferred Position Doctrine (1)
- Presidential Proclamations of Thanksgiving (1)
- Press Access (14)
- Prior Restraint (14)
- Prisoners' Rights (20)
- Privacy (11)
- Private Property (6)
- Probate (1)
- Profane or Indecent Speech (11)
- Public Employees (29)
- Public Forum (21)
- Public Prayer (3)
- Public Records Laws, Right of Access (7)
- Public Schools and Religion (23)
- Qualified Immunity (6)
- Religious Colleges and Universities (5)
- Religious Displays or Symbols on Public Property (10)
- Religious Oaths (2)
- Reporters' Privilege (3)
- Retaliatory Arrests and Prosecution (6)
- Right of Publicity (1)
- Right of Reply (1)
- Right to Receive Information (7)
- Right to Work Laws (7)
- Sabbath and Other Religious Observances (8)
- School vouchers (2)
- Secondary Effects Doctrine (4)
- Seditious Speech (5)
- Selective Service (1)
- Signs, Billboards and Newsracks (7)
- Social Security (2)
- Solicitation and Pamphleteering (13)
- Son of Sam Laws (2)
- Speech on Public Property (27)
- State Secrets (3)
- Students' Rights (30)
- Surveillance (1)
- Tax Policy (18)
- Teachers' Rights (10)
- Ten Commandments (4)
- Travel, Denial of Passports (3)
- Trespassing and Sit-ins (4)
- True Threats (10)
- Truth or Falsity of Religious Beliefs (2)
- Union Regulations (23)
- Vietnam War (3)
- Whistleblowers (2)
- Zoning (6)