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It has long been an assumption of American democracy that the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution are fundamental to the development and success of a democratic society. The freedom to speak one's mind, to publish one's thoughts, to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and to worship or to refrain from worshipping according to one's conscience are those freedoms which set a democratic society apart from other forms of political organization. They provide the individual with the opportunity for self-fulfillment and the society with the benefit of the thoughts, ideas, and aspirations of an enormous variety of human minds. If common sense prevails, the social and political organization will reflect the consensus of its members as to the best of those ideas.' The Constitution contains a number of provisions designed to protect individual liberties and to render the state subject to the will of the people. In a legal sense each provision of the Constitution stands equally with each other provision.' Conflicts can and do arise, however, between competing constitutional interests. To the extent that any judicial pattern can be discerned, there has been a developing tendency to treat First Amendment liberties as first among equals. That is to say, when there is a conflict between a First Amendment freedom and another constitutionally protected right, there is a slight tilt toward the former.


Commercial Law

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Law, Society and Governance


Emory Law Journal



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Emory Law Journal

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.