Supreme Court Review

Article Title

Public Perceptions of Government Speech


The Supreme Court has stated repeatedly in recent years that the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause “does not regulate government speech." While in most circumstances the government must adhere to a requirement of “viewpoint neutrality” in its regulation of private speech, the government is subject to no such requirement when it engages in speech of its own. Thus, a public school cannot prohibit students from expressing antiwar views, but the government is free to propagate its own messages in support of a war effort. Likewise, a city generally cannot ban neo-Nazis from marching through its streets,but it can issue its own condemnation of fascism. The rule that the government “shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech does not require the government to remain on the sidelines in public debates.

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