Unprotected Speech

Unprotected Speech

Learn about the narrow but important exceptions to the Free Speech Clause that the Supreme Court has identified—and the extent to which the government is allowed to interfere with such “unprotected” speech.


As we’ve seen in earlier lessons, the First Amendment doesn’t protect all speech to the same extent. With respect to some categories of speech, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment doesn’t apply at all. This lesson introduces those categories, as well as some of the difficulties that arise from policing their boundaries.

I. Incitement

One category of speech that the Supreme Court has held to be outside the First Amendment’s protection is incitement, that is, speech advocating...