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Imprinted in the minds of Indians are Jawaharlal Nehru’s words delivered at the stroke of midnight on that most important day: when the soul of a na tion, long suppressed, finds utterance. Everyone longed for their beloved India to sprout wings and fly . I find myself wondering today , what is the point of it all, if the wings are used to fly in the wrong direction? Towards a direction that is not in tune with our innate culture? We made one such unfortunate turn early in our independent history .

Freedom-loving liberals among us must remember and hang our heads in shame at the regrettable turn we took on May 10, 1951. That was the day Jawaharlal Nehru piloted the First Amendment to the Indian Constitution (which was passed into law within a few weeks). Among other restrictions on our fundamental rights, this also restricted freedom of expression.

Many feel that this was in response to the Supreme Court judgment in 1950 on the `Romesh Thappar vs The State of Madras’ case, through which the ban on Thappar’s magazine (a Marxist journal called Crossroads) was lifted. Many lawyers opine that in effect, the Supreme Court had recognized unfettered freedom of expression as compliant with our original Constitution; just like it was in the US and far better than in Europe at the time. Legal luminaries also hold that since unfettered freedom of expression would have been recognized as a fundamental right, the illiberal IPC Section 295(a), a gift bequeathed by the British Raj, through which many books have been banned, would be overridden.

Why did the Nehru government pass the first amendment? Critics of Nehru will hold this as proof that he was not a classical liberal (defined as one who defends political and economic freedoms for all). Supporters of Nehru will say that he had to ensure unity of purpose in the first few years of independent India to stabilize our country; and some freedoms were a small price to pay for this. I’ll let historians pass judgment on this issue.

I merely offer my take on the events that transpired; an observation that is based on my strong belief in freedom of expression. And this is not just as a liberal, but also as an inheritor of a culture that has a proud, millennia-long tradition of ideational freedom.

Freedom of expression is, frankly , the most Indian of values; one that was staunchly defended by Lord Brahma himself in the Natya Shastra. In ancient India one was free to create and encourage various versions of the holiest of epics like the Ramayan and Mahabharat; and all versions, some even unorthodox, were celebrated.In fact, one could even be an atheist in ancient India, as the Charvaks were (probably from the seventh century BC), and nobody would commit violence against them for being `ungodly’. One could practise out-of-the-ordinary rituals, as the Aghoras did (like ritual sex), and unlike in modern India, nobody would ban their practices as long as they didn’t hurt another. Everyone had a right to find their own truth, in keeping with the spirit of the Rig Vedic maxim: Ekam Sat Vipraha Bahuda Vadanti. Truth is one, but the wise men speak it as many .

I would ask for only two restrictions to be placed on freedom of expression. On someone who exercises freedom of expression to suppress the freedom of expression of another; that is unacceptable. And on anyone who uses freedom of expression to directly call for violence. In every other case, absolute and unfettered freedom of expression should be practised.Every banned book should be unbanned. Every argument, no matter how troubling it may be, should be allowed expression. Sigmund Freud had said that the first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.

All of us who count ourselves as liberals and are proud Indians must ask for the First Amendment to be repealed.Moreover, we must not practise the kind of hypocritical freedom of expression that the westerners practise, where views not in alignment with the prevailing orthodoxy are suppressed; not through violence, but by ensuring that one is prevented from visiting various public forums or one’s works are not published (for example, the gagging of Ayaan Hirsi Ali). I must state that I disagree with many things Ms Ali says; but we must defend the right to speak even of those whose views are deeply troubling, provided that there is no direct call for violence.

Stopping the free flow of ideas is against India’s innate culture. We are not in any sense being “westernized” if we ask for unfettered freedom of expression. In fact, we are being very Indian. Furthermore, as our ancestors realized thousands of years ago, freedom of expression is the foundation of a liberal and decent society .

As the Rig Veda says: `In speech is enshrined blessed glory , is enshrined Mother Lakshmi herself.’

Time to do away with Jawaharlal Nehru's first amendment to the Indian Constitution

Margaret Marshall: Citizens United and the Judicial Branch
Margaret Marshall, former chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, discusses how recent interpretations of the First Amendment are impacting judicial ethics opening…

By: Harvard Kennedy School

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Margaret Marshall: Citizens United and the Judicial Branch – Video

Will Police Attack First Amendment Again in Ferguson?
Back in august there was a war on for journalist. A blatant attack on our first amendment. Have the police learned the constitution they are supposed to upho…

By: TheAlexJonesChannel

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Will Police Attack First Amendment Again in Ferguson? – Video

HPD Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. on 97.9 the Box
HPD Chief McClelland went live on 97.9 the Box on 11/19 to discuss the situation in Ferguson, MO. HPD respects and encourages those who wish to exercise their First Amendment Rights and will…

By: Houston Police

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HPD Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. on 97.9 the Box – Video

Book Review | The First Amendment
BOOK REVIEW OF YOUR FAVORITE BOOK =— Where to buy this book? ISBN: 9781599417516 Book Review of The First Amendment by Henry J Fletcher Professor of Law and Associate De …

By: Book Reviews

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Book Review | The First Amendment – Video

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services will provide law enforcement officers with a new guide that will compile information, tools, and best practices to maintain public safety while safeguarding constitutional rights during First Amendment-protected events.

TheJustice Department encourages law enforcement officers in every jurisdiction to work with the communities that they serve to minimize needless confrontation, Holder said.

The announcement was made in a video released Friday morning. Holder didnt mention Ferguson by name in the video, but a grand jury decision on whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is expected to come within the next few days.

The grand jury is examining whether the Aug. 9 shooting was justified. Potential charges against Wilson could range from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter, though many protesters in the St. Louis suburb are anticipating that Wilson will not be indicted.

Over the past few months, weve seen demonstrations and protests that have sought to bring attention to real and significant underlying issues involving police practices, implicit bias and pervasive community distrust, Holder said in the video. In most cases, these demonstrations have been both meaningful and responsible and have brought vital issues to the attention of the public at large.

Similarly, I want toemphasize this, the vast majority of law enforcement officers have honorably defended their fellow citizens engaged in these peaceful protests.

Holder said that peaceful protests have the potential to spark a sustained and positive national dialogue, but cautioned that as weve seen, durable relationships between the police and their communities do not develop overnight.

He also addressed First Amendment demonstrators in his message, saying that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to nonaggression and nonviolence. He encouraged demonstrators to act in a way that respects the gravity of their subject matter.

In a new video released Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced “a new guide” to help law enforcement officers “maintain public safety while safeguarding constitutional rights during First Amendment-protected events.” (Department of Justice)

[This post has been updated.]

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Holder announces new guidance to law enforcement officers ahead of Ferguson decision

MORE THAN 25 percent of teens and adolescents have been bullied reportedly through the Internet or their cell phones. These statistics were obtained by the i-SAFE foundation. More than a quarter of Americas teens report being harassed and humiliated through electronic media. It is up to the schools to ensure that the learning environment remains undisturbed, up to fellow students to report cyberbullying they may witness, and up to the courts to uphold the First Amendment without allowing these students to be harmed.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech. However, our First Amendment right does not need to be limited to limit the impact of social comments conveyed through social media. In 1969, the Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines centered on students protesting the Vietnam war by wearing black arm bands to school. The school insisted the students remove the bands, and the students argued that this limited their right to free speech.

The court ruled in favor of the students, stating that this case does not concern speech or action that intrudes upon the work of the schools or the rights of other students. Although the school did not win in this case, it set the precedent that schools can combat bullying that intrudes upon the work of the schools or the rights of other students, disrupting students education.

However, while a school has the right to punish a cyberbully for disrupting education, it does not have the right to invade students online accounts without cause, as this does violate a bullys First Amendment right. Therefore, it is the duty of the target and the fellow students to stand up and report cyberbullying so the school may then determine whether a students education is being disrupted and, if so, decide consequences for the bully. The saying sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me is less accurate today. Between texting and social media, the words written electronically are forever. A hurtful comment to a peer is no longer just a passing insult in the hallway.The psychological and emotional torture of cyberbullying is real and devastating.

According to ABC News, 160,000 kids stay home from school each day to avoid bullying. About 4,000 young people commit suicide each year, with bully victims being two to nine times more likely to consider suicide, according to Yale University.

While the First Amendment must be protected, so must the lives and the education of students. When students opportunity to learn is ripped from them as a result of cyberbullying, schools have a right and a duty to intervene on behalf of the victim.

As Andrew Johnson once said, honest conviction is my courage; the Constitution is my guide. With the Constitution as a guide, schools must honestly convict those perverting the First Amendment to infringe upon any students right to education.


Kayla Bullwinkel is a senior at Millford High School. With this essay, she won this years New Hampshire Constitution Day essay contest, sponsored by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the Nackey Loeb School of Communications, and several New Hampshire newspapers,

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Kayla Bullwinkel Schools must go after cyber bullies while respecting the First Amendment

Yesterday the City Council Consumer Affairs Committee heard testimony relating to a bill that would require costumed characters across New York City to register with the Department of Consumer Affairs in order to accept tips or donations. “This straight up seems like fascism to me,” Keith Albahaye, a.k.a. The New York Joker, told the councilmembers. “The First Amendment is the First Amendment. I’m not gonna be allowed on 52nd Street and Broadway in the United States of America?”

At the outset of the hearing, the bill’s sponsor, Bronx Councilmember Andy King, testified that “the bill is not designed to take away anyone’s First Amendment rights,” and he added that his aim wasn’t to raise questions about a performer’s immigration status either. King said that his own five-year-old daughter was traumatized by an encounter with a character this past summer.

“Strawberry Shortcake didn’t get the proper tip she wanted, she ripped off her own head and started to berate her father and her family,” King said. “In the mind of a five year old, how do you comprehend a head being snatched off? In cartoons you can erase the head and you can draw it back on, but in human life you can’t do that. We want to make sure we can maintain that kind of innocence for our children and our families.”

Midtown South Commander Edward Winski testified that since 2009, the police have arrested 38 costumed performers in Times Square, 18 of those occurring this year. Most were for aggressive solicitation, but others were more serious, such as when a Spiderman struck a police officer and when Woody from Toy Story was arrested for sexually assaulted a woman by grabbing her buttock.

Councilmember Dan Garodnick, whose district covers a portion of Times Square, noted that King’s bill merely reiterates the law prohibiting aggressive solicitation, the enforcement of which is currently up to the NYPD.

“Even under the bill as proposed, those same subtle questions exist,” Garodnick said. “I think it still leaves open a lot of those questions which ultimately, if the police are not there to enforce, we’re just where we are today.”

Int. 467 would make it illegal “for any costumed individual while wearing a costume to solicit in return for posing for photographs or otherwise interacting with the public in public places without having first obtained a license.”

Steven Shiffrin, professor emeritus at Cornell Law School and the author of numerous books on the First Amendment, told us in September that a law like this may not pass constitutional muster.

“Wearing costumes is a form of First Amendment expression, and the First Amendment does not permit government to charge its citizens as a pre-condition of exercising their rights,” Shiffrin wrote in an email. “This principle takes on special force when the charge is exorbitant and when the purported justification for its imposition is so obviously a pretext.”

A representative from the Department of Consumer Affairs also revealed that in addition to the $175 fee for the two-year license, characters would have to pay a $75 fingerprinting fee. There are 14 other licensed professions that require fingerprinting, including auctioneers, auto repair workers, bingo hosts, process servers, pawn brokers, and tow truck drivers. The representative noted that the costume license would be the cheapest, though a general vendor license costs $200. A tow truck company pays $600 per truck.

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Times Square Joker Says Costume Law Is "Straight Up Fascism"

Park service tells me no 1st amendment at parks
Well this park employee on the rail trail told me I can't have any “political ” signs on my bike. Well I am exercising my first amendment rights , free speech,freedom of the press, right to…

By: That guy for 2a defend the constitution

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Park service tells me no 1st amendment at parks – Video

Gotta love the First Amendment – handing out chemtrail fliers at a Green Festival – When I was handing out chemtrail awareness fliers outside a Green Festival in San Francisco's Fort Mason, park officials and police claimed I was breaking the…

By: Patrick Roddie

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Gotta love the First Amendment – handing out chemtrail fliers at a Green Festival – Video

How First Amendment Procedures Protect First Amendment Substance
While the substance of constitutional rights is always important, it is often the procedures surrounding the protection and enforcement of those rights that …

By: The Federalist Society

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How First Amendment Procedures Protect First Amendment Substance – Video

The First Amendment…(Historically Speaking)
Frederick Douglass Dixon hosts this weekly segment on UPTV.


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The First Amendment…(Historically Speaking) – Video

Europe and the US continue to drift further apart on Google. Even as European parliamentarians and regulators seek ways to restrain Googles discretion over search results, US courts continue to affirm Googles right to do whatever it wants with search results paid and organic.

A California state court in San Francisco recently granted Googles case-ending motion in lawsuit against the company (per GigaOm). The action, filed in June of this year in San Francisco Superior Court, was called S. Louis Martin vs. Google Inc.

Drafted and filed by the non-attorney publisher of San Francisco Bay Area Tourism website, the complaint alleged unfair and deceptive business practices against Google.

The basic factual allegations included the claim that CoastNews ranked at the top of search results on Bing and Yahoo for San Francisco neighborhood keywords but didnt rank in a comparable position on Google. Plaintiff Martin asserted that Googles unfair and monopolistic business practices cause him lost revenue and future growth and harmed consumers as well.

Martin asked for a jury trial and sought roughly $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Google prevailed by framing plaintiffs claim as a SLAPP lawsuit. SLAPP stands for strategic lawsuit against public participation. SLAPP suits are usually filed by corporations or other powerful interests often to intimidate or silence less-powerful critics.

The irony here is that the corporation (Google) was claiming that this individual plaintiff (Martin) was trying to silence its First Amendment-protected speech. The Superior Court agreed.

In its motion, essentially to dismiss the case, Google cited various prior cases and precedents that establish Google has total discretion over the content of its search results as a protected expression of its First Amendment free speech rights.

The 2003 decision Search King, cited above, was the first case (to my knowledge) to hold that Googles editorial control of search results was protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment. That was reaffirmed earlier this year in a US District Court case called Zhang et (also cited above).

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Another Court Affirms Googles First Amendment Control Of Search Results

However, Google responded by filing an anti-SLAPP motion a legal tactic used to quickly challenge lawsuits that seek to stifle free speech, under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The ruling underlines the stark difference in how US and European authorities approach the issue of search engine regulation.

In Europe, regulators are in the process of imposing a series of measures such as forcing Google to display rivals’ ads in prominent places to address the companys allegedly anti-competitive practices.

Rivals have complained that Google is abusing its three quarters share of the web search market to artificially promote its own specialist services, such as shopping comparison and restaurant reviews.

If the case had gone to court and Google had lost it would be liable for fines of up to a tenth of its $50bn (30.7bn) global turnover. However, Google cut a deal with the European Commission in February.

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US court rules Google's search results qualify as free speech

The regulation of Google’s search results has come up from time to time over the past decade, and although the idea has gained some traction in Europe (most recently with right to be forgotten laws), courts and regulatory bodies in the US have generally agreed that Google’s search results are considered free speech. That consensus was upheld last Thursday, when a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Google’s right to order its search results as it sees fit.

The owner ofa website called CoastNews,S. Louis Martin, argued that Google was unfairly putting CoastNews too far down in search results, while Bing and Yahoo were turning up CoastNews in the number one spot. CoastNews claimed that violated antitrust laws. It also took issue withGoogle’s refusal to deliver ads to its website after CoastNews posted photographs of a nudist colony in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Google then filed an anti-SLAPP motion against the plaintiff. Anti-SLAPP regulations in California allow courts to throw out lawsuits at an early stage if they’re intended to stifle free speech rights.In this case, the judge agreed[PDF] that Google was permitted by the First Amendment to organize its search results as it saw fit.

Defendant has met its burden of showing that the claims asserted against it arise from constitutionally protected activity, the judge’s order read.

More powerful companies have also taken issue with Google’s ordering of search results to no avail. Back in 2011, a Senate antitrust subcommittee began an investigation of Google’s search results under the premise that Google’s size could lead to anticompetitive behavior. The FTC also launched an investigation into Google’s practices, but the company came away unscathed after the 19-month-long ordeal.

In 2012, Google commissioned a white paper by prominent UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh and attorney Donald Falk in which the two concluded that Google’s search engine is protected by the First Amendment because it “uses sophisticated computerized algorithms, but those algorithms themselves inherently incorporate the search engine company engineers’ judgments about what material users are likely to find responsive to these queries.”

Ars contacted Volokh regarding this recent ruling, and he said that if anything, the search engine’s status as protected by the First Amendment is stronger today than it was before. This is especially true given a recent ruling in a case involving Chinese search engine Baidu, which was sued in America by pro-democracy activists for censoring political speech from US users. Nevertheless, the Manhattan US District judge in that case ruled that the search engine could organize its search results as it liked because it was protected by the First Amendment.

Newspapers, guidebooksand, for that matter, Ars Technicahave a First Amendment right to choose which stories are worth publishing, and which businesses are worth covering, Volokh wrote to Ars in an e-mail. Likewise, Google (a modern heir of the guidebook) can choose which pages to prominently display (and thus implicitly recommend as relevant and interesting) to readers and which pages arent worth displaying so prominentlyor arent worth displaying at all.

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Court agrees that Googles search results qualify as free speech

BLM No Show Pahrump 11/13/2014 First Amendment Area
Description Kenny Bent speaks to the people in front of the Bob Ruud Community Center, where the BLM failed to show and present their Resource Management Pla…

By: Les Moore

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BLM No Show Pahrump 11/13/2014 First Amendment Area – Video

The First Amendment…(Historically Speaking) – Episode #7
Frederick Douglass Dixon hosts this weekly program on UPTV.


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The First Amendment…(Historically Speaking) – Episode #7 – Video

Posted Nov. 17, 2014, 9:53 am Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

In the United States of America, and to an even stronger extent in the State of California, the First Amendment to our federal Constitution (and its state counterpart) guarantees freedom of speech.

To petition, protest, and advocate before governmental bodies and public marketplaces are constitutional rights and therefore protected speech. This lawsuit is an attempt to bully me and silence dissent in the City of Santa Monica, where the pony ride and petting zoo have been the subject of criticism and protests for years, long before my personal involvement.

In consultation with counsel, I intend to file an ANTI-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion to protect my freedom of speech rights and those of others who might otherwise be deterred by coercive litigation from exercising their rights — and to defend the rights of suffering animals, sentient beings with emotional lives worthy of dignity and compassion.

I have repeatedly made overtures to the pony ride operators, introducing Jason, Tawnis husband, to Phil Brock, the Parks Commissioner, to see if they might be willing to compromise and move their animal exhibits to a more spacious and tranquil environment, where the ponies could be taken off the metal bar and walked with a gentle lead at a city park.

The City Council resolution relating to the ponies directed City staff to explore alternatives elsewhere in the City for the pony ride to operate in a more congenial environment for the animals. To my knowledge, the pony operators have not been interested in compromise and have repeatedly refused to consider more humane alternatives.

While the operators repeatedly and publicly attack my character, I know that I have only told the truth, expressing my opinion, both in words and photographs, throughout this period of protest, in which 1,450 people signed my petition to shut down the animal exhibits. Additionally, records obtained under the California Public Records Act have surfaced past complaints about the animal exhibits.

Beyond that, I learned that a separate protest in 2005 resulted in approximately another thousand petition signatures from market visitors disturbed by the sight of ponies tethered to a metal bar, circling for hours on hard ground, unable to turn around or seek water on their own during a hot summer day.

Not only do local residents find these exhibits objectionable, some of my neighbors boycotting the Main Street farmers market, but Marc Bekoff, noted scientist and colleague of Jane Goodall, with whom I consulted months ago, calls the exhibits thoroughly inhumane — adding, Tethering animals so they cannot have freedom of movement and the freedom to get away from harassment and noise is as inhumane as keeping the animals in tiny cages in petting zoos, where they suffer physically and emotionally.

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Letter To The Editor: First Amendment Guarantees Freedom Of Speech

A video that emerged over the weekend appears to show Darren Wilson, the cop who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown in a St. Louis suburb in August, telling a citizen he doesn’t have the right to record video of a 2013 encounter.

The details of the entire exchangeare a little murky. But in almost all cases in the United Statesyou actually do have the right to record police and other public officials carrying out their duties.

There are some state wiretapping laws that make it illegal to record audio of people without their consent, but the courts have consistently held that the First Amendment protects citizens’ right to record the police when they’re on the job. The police can’t stop you unless you’re interfering with their work — and they can’t take away your smart phone or delete the recordings just because you took video. Police need a warrant to mess with the content of your cell phone.

The Department of Justice has even officially weighed in on citizen recordings of law enforcement officers. Here’s what it said in a 2012 letter toattorneys for the Baltimore Police Department:

Policies should affirmatively set forth the contours of individuals First Amendment right to observe and record police officers engaged in the public discharge of their duties. Recording governmental officers engaged in public duties is a form of speech through which private individuals may gather and disseminate information of public concern, including the conduct of law enforcement officers.

Obviously, just because you have the right doesn’t mean all law enforcement officials will respect it. But there’s also a growing movement to make sure that police actions are almost always facing the scrutiny of video evidence by use of mandatory body cameras, or “bodycams,” on officers.

The cameras could potentially provide an extra layer of digital oversight over law enforcement behavior — as well as a way for officers to verify their side of the story if a situation gets messy.

In the wake of the Ferguson protests, makers of such deviceshave seen their business boom.

Even the American Civil Liberties Union is on board with thethe useof bodycams, albeit with a fewcaveats about data retention and privacy implications. “Although we generally take a dim view of the proliferation of surveillance cameras in American life, police on-body cameras are different because of their potential to serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers,” the group said in a 2013 policy paper.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.

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Yes, you have a right to record the police.

The First Amendment- Extended Review
A quick review of the first amendment, sort of like a short review for a cumulative test.

By: Varoon Kodithala

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The First Amendment- Extended Review – Video

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