GOV-204: First Amendment Law
Welcome to LawShelf’s video-course on the First Amendment. This course details the freedoms we enjoy under the First Amendment to the Constitution, including freedoms of speech, religion, the press, assembly and petition.
This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge of law is required.
course starts with a discussion of freedom of speech and the ways in which
government may regulate speech. We will discuss the protections afforded to
political speech and how viewpoint discrimination by the government is almost
then move to types of speech and the different levels of protection they are
afforded. These include religious speech (where freedoms of speech and religion
intersect), student speech, anonymous speech and even some forms of “hate”
speech. We will also discuss non-verbal forms of expression that are protected
by the First Amendment.
the third module, we will look at unprotected speech that the government may
control or prohibit. This includes some forms of commercial speech (such as
dishonest or misleading advertising), incitement, obscenity, criminal
conspiracies and copyright infringement.
next two modules cover other First Amendment rights: assembly, petition,
association and the press. We will also cover when the government can place
reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on speech, assembly and protest.
We will also look at how freedom of the press intersects with defamation and
the interests of the government in conducting criminal investigations.
second half of the course turns to freedom of
religion and the first two clauses of the First Amendment: the clauses
prohibiting the government from “establishing” a national religion and the
clause preventing the government from “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
This section opens with a discussion of the historical context of the two clauses and where they apply. We’ll also discuss the legal standards under which freedom of religion are analyzed and discuss the important differences between religious beliefs and religious practices.
The next two modules focus on the free exercise clause. We’ll look at cases that have analyzed laws that target religious groups and those that have disproportionate impacts on particular religious groups. We’ll also discuss the principle that practicing religion does not mandate that the government exempt adherents from laws of general applicability. Then we’ll focus on at the application of free exercise clause jurisprudence on a variety of rights informed by religious beliefs, including refusing medical treatment and conducting religious meetings and services.
The penultimate module segues to the establishment clause, first focusing on tests that are used to determine whether government laws or policies are considered to be enforcements of religion. We’ll also look at cases involving religious monuments, at government voucher programs that can be used at religious schools and at cases involving school prayer. Finally, we will look at a variety of recent cases involving freedom of religion. We’ll look at cases involving the usage of “in God we Trust” on currency and Ten Commandment monuments on government property.
This course should give you a firm understanding the freedoms associated with the First Amendment and their applications.
Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.