Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment [October 16, 2009] [open pdf - 350KB]
"The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that 'Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.' This language restricts government both more and less than it would if it were applied literally. It restricts government more in that it applies not only to Congress, but to all branches of the federal government, and to all branches of state and local government. It restricts government less in that it provides no protection to some types of speech and only limited protection to others. 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. […] Furthermore, 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