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Amdt1.7.12.1 Overview of Compelled Speech

First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

For both the religion and speech clauses of the First Amendment, liberty of belief is the foundation of the liberty to practice one’s religion and to express one’s opinions.1 As the Supreme Court has stated: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” 2 Speaking in the context of religious freedom, the Court said that, although the freedom to act on one’s beliefs could be limited, the freedom to believe what one will “is absolute.” 3 Accordingly, as discussed in the following essays, courts will ordinarily subject government actions that compel speech to heightened constitutional scrutiny—but courts will more readily uphold certain types of disclosure requirements, particularly in the commercial context. An earlier essay discussed the Court’s jurisprudence involving disclosures and disclaimers imposed in the context of campaign finance and electioneering regulations.4

W. Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943); Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303–04 (1940); United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944); Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961); Am. Commc’ns Ass’n v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382, 408 (1950); Bond v. Floyd, 385 U.S. 116, 132 (1966); Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513 (1958); Baird v. State Bar of Ariz., 401 U.S. 1, 5–6 (1971) (plurality opinion), and id. at 9–10 (Stewart, J., concurring). back
Barnette, 319 U.S. at 642. See Amdt1.4.2 Laws Regulating Religious Belief. back
Cantwell, 310 U.S. at 303. back
Amdt1.7.11.4 Campaign Finance Disclosure and Disclaimer Requirements. back