First Amendment Timeline

  • Schenck v. United States

    Schenck v. United States
    "Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated in this case his famous aphorism about "falsely shouting fire in a theatre" and set forth a "clear and present danger test" to judge whether speech is protected by the First Amendment. "The question," he wrote, "is whether the words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has the right to prevent".
  • Evans v. Selma Union High School District of Fresno County

    Evans v. Selma Union High School District of Fresno County
    "The California State Supreme Court held that the King James version of the Bible was not a "publication of a sectarian, partisan, or denominational character" that a State statute required a public high school library to exclude from its collections."
  • The New York Times v. Sullivan

    To protect "uninhibited, robust, and wide-open" debate on public issues, the Supreme Court held that no public official may recover "damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with 'actual malice'--that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
  • Ginsberg v. New York

    The Supreme Court upheld a New York State statute barring retailers from selling sexually explicit publications to minors under the age of 17.
  • Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

    In this seminal case considering the First Amendment rights of students ( John F. Tinker, Christopher Eckhardt, and Mary Beth Tinker) who were expelled after they wore black armbands to school in symbolic protest of the Vietnam War.
  • Stanley v. Georgia

    A man found to possess obscene materials in his home for his private use was convicted of possessing obscene materials in violation of the state laws of Georgia.
  • New York Times Company v. United States

    New York Times Company v. United States
    In the Pentagon Papers they wanted to enjoin the Washington Post and the New York Times, publishing classified documents concerning the Vietnam War. They found that the claims of publication of documents would interfere with foreign policy.
  • Miller v. California

    In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court mapped out its famous three-part definition of obscenity. First, the average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests; second, that it depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct as defined by state law; and third, that the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
  • Wooley v. Maynard

    A Jehovah’s Witness objected to New Hampshire’s state motto—“Live Free or Die”—on his license plate. Because the saying went against his conscience, he did not believe the state had a right to force him to advertise something the state believes in, but he does not. When the state discovered he had covered up the motto on his license plate, they prosecuted him.
  • Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico

    "In 1975, three school board members sought the removal of several books determined objectionable by a politically conservative organization. The following February, the board gave an "unofficial direction" that the books be removed from the school libraries, so that board members could read them."
  • Concerned Women for America, Inc. v. Lafayette County

    Concerned Women for America, Inc. v. Lafayette County
    The Right to Free Association and the Freedom of Religion
    "The County library that had permitted various groups to use its auditorium had created a designated public forum and thus could not deny access to groups whose meetings had political or religious content. Such a denial would be based on the content of speech and would be permissible only as the least restrictive means to serve a compelling interest"
  • Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium

    In a decision that produced six opinions, the Supreme Court upheld a federal law permitting cable system operators to ban "indecent" or "patently offensive" speech on leased access channels.
  • Mainstream Loudoun, et al. v. Board of Trustees of the Loudoun County Library

    Adopted in 1997, the Loudoun County, Va., Library Board's "Policy on Internet Sexual Harassment" was designed to prevent adult and minor Internet users from accessing illegal pornography and to avoid the creation of a sexually hostile environment.
  • American Amusement Machine Association, et al., v. Teri Kendrick

    Enacted in July 2001, an Indianapolis, Ind., city ordinance required video game arcade owners to limit access to games that depicted certain activities, including amputation, decapitation, dismemberment, bloodshed, or sexual intercourse. Only with the permission of an accompanying parent or guardian could children seventeen years old and younger play these types of video games.
  • United States, et al. v. American Library Association

    The Supreme Court upheld the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires libraries receiving federal funds for Internet access to install filters so that both adult and child patrons cannot access materials considered obscene, child pornography, or "harmful to minors."