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First Amendment Quiz
First Amendment Quiz
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Think you know the First Amendment? Test your skills with this quiz!
1. Which of the following rights are not in the text of the First Amendment?
Freedom of Speech
Incorrect. The First Amendment is most famous for protecting free speech and establishing freedom of religion.
Freedom of Press
Incorrect. The founding fathers believed that ideas and debate should spread through news. The press is the only career specifically protected by the Constitution.
Right to Privacy
Correct! In fact, the right to privacy is not listed anywhere specifically in the Constitution (although the Supreme Court has interpreted it as a Constitutional right under other Amendments).
Right to Petition the Government
Incorrect. This protection allows citizens to take direct action against the government. The First Amendment also protects your right to peacefully assemble to protest.
2. What counts as "speech" under the First Amendment? (hint: there may be more than one right answer)
Written and spoken words
Correct! When you think about "speech," this is probably what comes to mind. Written and spoken words are the clearest form of expression, but aren't the only types of "speech" that can be protected under the First Amendment.
Painting a picture
Correct! Artistic expression like composing music, choreographing a dance, or painting a picture can also count as speech and can be protected under the First Amendment.
Kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance
Correct! Actions can also count as "speech" because you are expressing ideas or beliefs through what you do. This is often called "symbolic speech."
Wearing a pink shirt to raise awareness for breast cancer research
Correct! Fashion choices can be another example of symbolic speech. You can use clothing, accessories, hair style, makeup, and more to express your identity or beliefs.
3. True or False: The First Amendment protects your rights against everyone, including private employers, and teachers at both public and private schools.
Incorrect. The First Amendment only protects you against government actors. The First Amendment does not protect you against private employers and teachers at private schools.
Correct! The First Amendment only protects you against government actors. Government actors can include teachers, principals, administrators, and staff at public schools.
4. Which of the following types of speech is the most highly protected?
Incorrect. Although commercial speech is covered by the First Amendment, it only gets limited protection.
Incorrect. Even though we want to protect a person's ability to express their opinion, there are some extreme cases where opinions will not be protected speech.
Correct! Political speech is the most highly protected type of speech under the First Amendment.
Incorrect. Although we want to protect people's ability to criticize someone or something, it is not as highly protected as pure political speech.
5. True or False: The First Amendment protects students at school.
Correct! The First Amendment doesn't just apply to adults, it applies to students too! The Supreme Court has said that "students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate." Of course, schools might be able to put some limits on that right, but First Amendment protects students both in and out of school.
Incorrect. The First Amendment protects students both in and out of school!
6. Which of the following types of speech is NOT protected by the First Amendment? (check all that apply)
Correct! True obscenity is never protected under the First Amendment. However, speech that is lewd and vulgar (i.e. uses profanity or sexual innuendo) is given slightly more protection.
Incorrect. Although it is offensive, hate speech is still technically protected by the First Amendment, unless it (1) incites violence or could inspire immediate violence, or (2) is a true threat of violence against another person.
Correct! True threats of violence against another person are not protected by the First Amendment (and it could lead to bigger trouble anyway).
Incorrect. Mere offense isn't enough of a reason to stop someone's speech. Everyone has different standard of what it means for speech to be "offensive," so offensive speech is protected under the First Amendment.
Correct! Defamation--lying about someone enough that it permanently hurts their reputation--is not protected under the First Amendment.
Correct! Remember how commercial speech is given First Amendment protection? Well, believe it or not, false advertisements are not given any protection. Why would the founding fathers want to protect lies so much anyway?
7. Which of the following types of speech can a school censor without violating your First Amendment rights?
Speech that causes a disruption
Correct! As decided by the Supreme Court in the case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, schools can censor any student speech that causes a "substantial and material disruption" to the learning environment, or could foreseeably cause one in the future.
Incorrect. Even for student speech, just being offensive isn't enough of a reason to censor speech. It is still protected by the First Amendment.
References to illegal drugs
Correct! Schools can censor student speech about illegal drugs or other illegal behavior. Take a look at your school dress code; you'll probably find that your school has a policy that says the same thing! Schools can also censor "lewd and vulgar" speech (speech that uses profanity or sexual innuendos).
A social media post that criticizes a teacher
Incorrect. Students have a right to be critical of their teachers without getting in trouble for it. Unless the post was threatening or caused a disruption to the school, it is protected, especially if it was made off-campus and after school hours.
A threat against another student
Correct! Threats against other students or the school in general are very serious, and even it was made as a "joke," it's not protected speech.
8. Which of the following students would most likely win a First Amendment claim? (Pick one)
A rap artist releases an album featuring a marijuana leaf as the cover art. A student buys a shirt of that art to support the album and wears it to school.
Incorrect. Even though artistic expression is protected by the First Amendment, schools can prevent students from wearing shirts that support illegal drug use. This would not be protected speech, even if the student was just supporting the artist.
A student supports the legalization of marijuana and wears a shirt featuring a marijuana leaf.
Incorrect. Even though it is worn for political reasons, the shirt only shows a picture of an illegal drug, so the school could still censor it.
A student supports the legalization of marijuana and interrupts a speaker at a school assembly to chant "Legalize Now!"
Incorrect. Although the chant is a form of political expression, the student is interrupting the learning environment to get his message across. This type of substantial disruption is not speech that is protected in schools.
A student supports the legalization of marijuana and distributes "Support Proposal 1" buttons before class
Correct! This is the best answer. The student is engaging in clearly political speech and as long as the buttons do not become a disruption to the school, her speech will be protected.
9. Your school has a history of racially based fights breaking out during lunch and after school. Knowing it will make people mad and wanting to 'stir the pot,' one student wears a shirt featuring the confederate flag to school one day. Can the school suspend the student without violating his First Amendment rights?
Yes, the school can suspend him
Correct! The school can suspend the student due to the fact that the shirt was likely to cause a substantial disruption to the learning environment. Since fights have been breaking out in the past, and the student wore the shirt to make people mad, he knew (and so did the school) that the shirt was going to cause some kind of disruption.
No, the student's speech was protected
Incorrect. While the Confederate flag has become an often controversial issue, in this case, the student clearly knew that there was a history of violence in the school and that wearing the shirt would provoke other students to fight. That is not protected speech.
10. A student wants to sell "I heart boobies" bracelets during lunch to raise money for breast cancer awareness. Can the school confiscate the bracelets without violating her First Amendment rights?
Yes, because the speech is lewd and vulgar
Incorrect. Even though the word "boobies" might not be completely G-rated, it doesn't rise to the level of lewdness in this case. Here, the speech is designed to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Yes, because the speech is obscene
Incorrect. The word "boobies" is not strong enough to legally count as "obscene."
No, because the speech is protected.
Correct! Even though we might not think about cancer research as political, the message on the bracelets is advocating for a cause, so the student's speech is protected by the First Amendment.
Yes, because it could potentially cause a disruption
Incorrect. Even though schools can regulate speech that might cause substantial disruption, the school has to show that the disruption is actually foreseeable. In other words, they have to give an actual explanation, not just worry.