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Free speech: Some First Amendment landmarks

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POLITICAL SPEECH

1969: The Supreme Court ruled that it was a violation of the First Amendment for an Iowa school district to suspend high school students for wearing black armbands with peace symbols.
1969: The First Amendment protects speech advocating criminal activity and even the overthrow of the government, the Supreme Court ruled in a case reversing the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader in Ohio. In contrast, the court said incitement to imminent lawless action by a speaker is not protected free speech.
1978: The right of a neo-Nazi group to march through Skokie, Ill., a largely Jewish community, was upheld by a federal appeals court. While hurtful, the threatened march – which never actually happened – was deemed a protected expression.
1989: On free speech grounds, the Supreme Court upheld the right to burn or desecrate the American flag for protest. The court said government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.
2010: The Supreme Court invalidated a portion of a federal campaign finance law that made it illegal for corporations and labor unions to spend money to influence federal elections. The court said corporate officials and union leaders have a free speech right to spend money for advertisements and forms of political speech during election season.

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