The Flouting of the First Amendment | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1539-7785
  • E-ISSN: 2048-0717



The First Amendment has received mounting and nearly unprecedented flouting at the hands of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congress in the past few years, with massive fines levied against broadcasters for alleged violations of ambiguous public decency standards. The history of the First Amendment in America is outlined here—from its Jeffersonian beginnings contested by John Adams and the Federalists, through its relative golden age in the 19th century, to a 20th century of relentless battering by “clear and present danger” Supreme Court decisions and FCC rulings. We stand at a crossroads here at the beginning of the 21st century, where anything less than strong support of the First Amendment under fire could result in its disappearance from American life.

This article is based on the keynote address given at the sixth annual convention of the Media Ecology Association, held at Fordham University in New York City in 2005.


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