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Self- Expression: Protecting First Amendment Rights - Essay Example

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Self- Expression: Protecting First Amendment Rights

They recognized, all those years ago, the importance of protecting Freedom of Speech and Expression. The importance of Free Speech has not diminished, and it is not for any individual entity to limit any citizen's right to express himself peacefully save by amending the Constitution itself. That being said let us turn to the case at hand.
Upon reading the circumstances surrounding the scenario provided I decided that I would evaluate the merits of the case based on the perspective of that of a defense attorney. In reviewing the case provided, the fundamental question that needs to be addressed is: Did the defendant in this case break any law The prosecution's entire case is based on the defendant being arrested for being a public nuisance and causing injury, although indirectly, to Gloria Trek. The state's entire case rests on the constitutionality of the public nuisance statue and whether or not it infringes on the defendant's right to free speech, which I will prove it does.
Title 46 of the Florida Criminal Statues 823.01 which defines Nuisances states "All nuisances which tend to annoy the community or injure the health of the citizens in general, or to corrupt the public morals, are misdemeanors of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.083, except that a violation of s. 823.10 is a felony of the third degree." (Public Nuisance, 2000, n.p.) This statute is very vague in nature and is by this very ambiguity subject to wide interpretation as to what constitutes being 'annoying'. The phrasing of the statute in that manner allows for far too much discretionary power by individual law enforcement officers in deciding when and whom to arrest which brings into question the equal enforcement of the law and the discriminatory manner with which it may be enforced. However, in reviewing this case, if I were the actual defense attorney, I would be more inclined to base the defense on the defendant's innocence based on the First Amendment Rights.
There is legal precedence found to support the defendant's claim that he was not committing any crime when he exercised his right of free expression by dancing on a public sidewalk. His arrest was, in effect, the censorship of this right guaranteed by the Constitution. "The First Amendment applies to artistic expression, verbal as well as non-verbal, just as it applies to political and other speech. It is a shield that protects against government restriction or punishment of expression, particularly when the government discriminates on the basis of content." (Greenberg, 2005, n.p.) By arbitrarily arresting the defendant the police in this case were infringing on his right of self expression. The defendant was clothed at the time of his dancing on a public sidewalk. Although Ms. Trek may not have wanted to see the defendant perform and chose to step out onto the street to continue on down the street, she had a responsibility to ensure that she was not stepping into the bath of a bicycle. That fault clearly did not lie with the defendant. The police, in this case, arrested the defendant arbitrarily. They had no legal grounds to do so. In charging him with the public nuisance statue they were trying to ...Show more


The Constitution of the United States is a compilation of what we, as Americans, perceive as the fundamental rights and responsibilities of each of us - both to ourselves and to others. The founding principles guaranteed certain rights to each of us. Although we may not at times agree with the words spoken, the art painted, the photo captured, or the dance performed, this does not negate the right of the artist to produce or perform their artwork…
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Self- Expression: Protecting First Amendment Rights essay example
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