Am I allowed to chalk on campus?

Similar to posting flyers on campus bulletin boards, expression through the use of chalking on campus sidewalks is protected within reasonable regulations. Conditions imposed on campus sidewalk chalking are put in place to ensure that permanent damage is not caused… Read more

What is incitement to imminent lawless action?

There have been instances in U.S. history where the government has attempted to ban speech that people used to advocate for societal change. In some past cases, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld punishment of expression that advocated for change, especially… Read more

What constitutes a true threat?

A true threat is not protected by the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court defined true threats in Virginia v. Black (2003) as “statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence… Read more

What is defamation?

Defamation occurs if you make a false statement of fact about someone else that harms that person’s reputation. Such speech is not protected by the First Amendment and could result in criminal and civil liability. Defamation is limited in multiple… Read more

What is obscenity?

Speech about sex and sexuality receives protection under the First Amendment, and this protection extends to many forms of pornography. However, certain types of sexually explicit expression are not protected. Obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. Obscenity is a… Read more

What constitutes harassment?

Discriminatory harassment is not protected by the First Amendment. As explained by the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents policy document on Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation, discriminatory harassment is “unwelcome verbal, written, graphic or physical conduct that: is directed at an… Read more

What are fighting words?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942) that fighting words are not protected by the First Amendment. Fighting words are defined as words “which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the… Read more

What is protected by the First Amendment?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “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… Read more