Poll: One-third of Americans believe First Amendment goes too far

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 4:59pm

WASHINGTON — A new survey finds a third of Americans believe the First Amendment goes too far in guaranteeing freedoms of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition — up from 13 percent in last year's survey.

The Newseum Institute released its State of the First Amendment results Tuesday. The survey has been conducted since 1997 to determine awareness and opinions about the First Amendment.

Ken Paulson, president of the Nashville, Tenn.-based First Amendment Center, says it's unsettling that so many Americans view the First Amendment as providing too much freedom.

The survey found Americans identified freedom of speech as the most important freedom.

The telephone poll was conducted in May with 1,006 adults in the 48 contiguous states. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.


11 Comments on this post:

By: TennesseeJed on 7/16/13 at 6:16

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. --William Pitt.

Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile. --somebody

Americans should zealously fight any measure to restrict the first amendment, whatever the reason.

By: yogiman on 7/17/13 at 5:21

Freedom of speech is worded simply in our Constitution. There is no specifications on what you can say, when you can say it or how you can say it.

Normal law abiding Americans honor that privilege without rebut.

By: govskeptic on 7/17/13 at 6:51

The founding fathers knew that freedom of speech and press were extremely
important in a new land. The lack thereof in their previous lives made it number
one in their listings. Although it was the first listed they didn't mean that it was
the only one that should be protected, contrary to the editorials of today's press.
Nor did they ever dream it would become an unpaid arm of the government they
felt needed a constant freedom of vigilance upon. I suspect the latter is where the
1/3 is mainly coming from in their opinions.

By: grid on 7/17/13 at 7:03

I find this shocking & agree with TennesseeJed 100%

I may not like what you say (might even despise it & find it hateful), but it is your right to say it. Any restrictions of rights should be carefully examined, and, if necessary, opposed.

By: budlight on 7/17/13 at 8:03

Freedom can never be free. There is a price to pay for everything. I value freedom of speech, but I also respect the right. Personally I don't agree with pornography and some types of "speech", so I don't use it or go around it. I have the right to choose what I listen to.

Now if I could just figure out how to turn off the political junk.

By: yucchhii on 7/17/13 at 9:18

It's NOT that 1st amendment goes to far, it's more like there are people who are "ABUSING" it, just like they abuse other amendments like the amendment regarding our right to bear arms. There are some who will ABUSE anything..that includes "ALL" politicians...yes Democrats...AND...republicans...THEY ARE ALL CRIMINALS!!!

By: amyinsparta on 7/17/13 at 9:27

"My choice is what I choose to do
And if I'm causing no harm
It shouldn't bother you
Your choice is who you choose to be
And if you're causin' no harm
Then you're alright with me"

From the song, BURN ONE DOWN

Too many people want other people to adhere to their ideologies concerning life, as if they had the Truth. No one has the TRUTH. One has only BELIEFS. And so a fearful third of our citizens BELIEVE that in order to have a functioning society, certain freedoms have to be curbed and those freedoms are the ones they disagree with, like homsexuality, abortion, certain races, certain religions. How deluded they are. I do believe that Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, and Polpot are smiling now. Just a little more fear and whoever in power wants to limit our freedom of speech will have the advantage. And then a little more time and it will be all over.

By: JeffF on 7/17/13 at 10:40

I think it would be prudent to look at the actual question or questions in the poll before jumping to conclusions.

I would bet the phrase "separation of church and state" and/or other phrases from 200 plus years of civil law were included in the questioning and a large group of respondents took agitation against those concepts as being anti-first amendment.

By: kevin47881 on 7/17/13 at 5:52

A third of the respondents need to do as they desire, STFU

By: yogiman on 7/17/13 at 6:32

That is why our founders put that amendment in our constitution, kevin47881; so all of us can say what we want to say, when we want to say it..

That's why you had the right to "say" your comment.

There's two valuable aspects of out civilization, honor and respect. Honor your fellow citizens and show them respect... until they attempt to push you over the cliff.

By: yogiman on 7/17/13 at 6:40

You're right, budlight. freedom has never been free. Our founders fought for their freedom and passed it on down the line to their heirs.

And unless the younger citizens of today have a strong desire and love of their freedom, the US government of today are strongly working on taking control of our freedoms.