The First Amendment
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Average Duration
60+ Minutes
Difficulty Level
Lesson Host
Sam Chaltain
author and First Amendment expert

Learn why the First Amendment’s five rights and freedoms are so vital to American democracy. Through case studies, weigh in on Supreme Court decisions in which these protections were challenged.

News literacy topics

A free press; The First Amendment

Learning objectives

  • I can name the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
  • I can explore and analyze six landmark First Amendment cases, judge them myself and defend or criticize the Supreme Court’s decision in each.

Essential questions

  • What five freedoms are protected by the First Amendment?
  • How do the five freedoms work together to strengthen American democracy?
  • In what ways are the freedoms dependent on one another? How do they support, protect and enhance each other?
  • What court cases have been most influential in shaping press protections and individuals’ rights to free expression under the First Amendment?


“With rights come responsibilities, and they do have limitations – quite a few, in fact. Here are four main limitations on these freedoms: First, the First Amendment does not protect personal expression that incites or directly causes violence. Second, it does not protect expression that the courts deem to be obscene. Third, it does not protect disruptive speech or expression in schools. And fourth, it does not give citizens the right to “defame” people – that is to intentionally lie about them in a way that would damage their reputation or livelihood.”