(IntegrityPress.org) – The First Amendment has become increasingly hotly debated in recent years as people disagree on the appropriate limits of free speech. Liberals typically claim that the government should impose limitations on expression to avoid the spread of hate speech. A prominent Democratic lawmaker recently had to concede that he was wrong for taking that position during a congressional committee hearing.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) recently stated there was no protection under the First Amendment for those who “espouse hate” or “violence.” As one might expect, critics quickly responded that there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment according to long-standing Supreme Court precedent.
.@SenatorCardin: "If you espouse hate, if you espouse violence, you're not protected under the First Amendment. I think we can be more aggressive in the way that we handle that type of use of the internet." pic.twitter.com/t38Myy93ZI
— The Hill (@thehill) December 29, 2022
Cardin subsequently clarified his position on the matter in a Twitter post, noting that hate speech does, in fact, enjoy protection under the First Amendment “unless it incites violence.”
For those interested, here is a longer version of the video referencing hate speech from our recent hearing.
Hate speech is protected under the #FirstAmendment, unless it incites violence. #context pic.twitter.com/A0J1sNzYUH
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) December 29, 2022
The First Amendment prohibits the government from passing any measure that has the effect of “abridging the freedom of speech, or the press.” The US Supreme Court has interpreted this passage to mean that the dissemination of supposed hate speech is constitutionally permissible unless individuals use language designed to provoke lawless or violent behavior.
Advocates say this position is necessary to avoid the term “hate speech” becoming a political weapon, while critics say it doesn’t do enough to protect the victims of discrimination.
What do you think? Should the government be able to ban the publication of hate speech despite the First Amendment?
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