Object structure

click here to follow the link


Symbolic communication as speech in united states supreme court jurisprudence

Subject and Keywords:

Freedom of speech   USA   the First Amendment to the United States Constitution   symbolic communication


The First Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids government to pass any law which abridges freedom of speech. Notwithstanding the absolute tenor of the clause, this guarantee is clearly not limitless; its boundaries are established mainly in the course of Constitutional adjudication. The United States Supreme Court has extended free speech guarantees to so-called symbolic speech, i.e. to nonverbal expression of ideas, views or emotions. The article analyzes basic criteria and limits of First Amendment protection with respect to such instances of (alleged) symbolic communication as flying a red flag, refusing to salute the U.S. flag, wearing a black armband, silently protesting segregation rules, burning a crucifix, burning a draft card, sleeping in a park and nude dancing. In some cases the level of protection given to symbolic speech is deemed analogous to that accorded to written or oral expression; in other cases the Supreme Court applies the so-called O’Brien standard, which is an instrument designed specifically for judging laws relevant to this mode of communication.

Date issued:


Resource Type:


Detailed Type:



eISSN 2084-1264





Abstract Language :

Is version of:

click here to follow the link   click here to follow the link

Access rights:



Creative Commons - Attribution (CC BY 4.0)

Rights holder:

Copyright by Wroclaw Review of Law, Administration & Economics, published by Sciendo

Autor opisu:

WR U/PAdbg