Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment [Updated July 29, 2004] [open pdf - 167KB]
"This report provides an overview of the major exceptions to the First Amendment- of the ways that the Supreme Court has interpreted the guarantee of freedom of speech and press to provide no protection or only limited protection for some types of speech. For example, the Court has decided that the First Amendment provides no protection to obscenity, child pornography, or speech that constitutes 'advocacy of the use of force or of law violation ... where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.' The Court has also decided that the First Amendment provides less than full protection to commercial speech, defamation (libel and slander), speech that may be harmful to children, speech broadcast on radio and television, and public employees' speech. Even speech that enjoys the most extensive First Amendment protection may be subject to 'regulations of the time, place, and manner of expression which are content-neutral, are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and leave open ample alternative channels of communication.' And, even speech that enjoys the most extensive First Amendment protection may be restricted on the basis of its content if the restriction passes 'strict scrutiny,' i.e., if the government shows that the restriction serves 'to promote a compelling interest' and is 'the least restrictive means to further the articulated interest.'"
CRS Report for Congress, 95-815