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Amdt1.7.10.1 Overview of Media Regulation

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.

The protections of the First Amendment extend regardless of the medium of expression—speech will remain constitutionally protected whether it is communicated in a park, in a newspaper, or in a movie.1 Nonetheless, the standards for assessing First Amendment protections may vary according to the medium of expression.2 In particular, as discussed in the following essays, the Supreme Court has recognized that “differential treatment” of speech may sometimes be “'justified by some special characteristic of’ the particular medium being regulated.” 3 Further, although the Supreme Court has recognized that both the Free Speech and Free Press Clauses protect media outlets,4 such organizations are not relieved from complying with generally applicable laws simply because such laws may have incidental effects on the exercise of free speech rights.5

See, e.g., Joseph Burstyn v. Wilson, 343 U.S. 495, 503 (1952) (noting that although each “method of expression tends to present its own peculiar problems . . . . the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press, like the First Amendment’s command, do not vary” ). back
See, e.g., Se. Promotions, Ltd. v. Conrad, 420 U.S. 546, 557 (1975) ( “Each medium of expression, of course, must be assessed for First Amendment purposes by standards suited to it, for each may present its own problems.” ). back
Turner Broad. Sys. v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622, 660–61 (1994) (quoting Minn. Star & Tribune Co. v. Minn. Comm’r of Revenue, 460 U.S. 575, 585 (1983)). back
See, e.g., Grosjean v. Am. Press Co., 297 U.S. 233, 244 (1936); see also Amdt1.9.1 Overview of Freedom of the Press. back
See Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., 501 U.S. 663, 669 (1991). back