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First Amendment Library Feature: Free Speech Timeline

By November 15, 2016

In honor of yesterday’s launch of FIRE’s First Amendment Library, we’ll be bringing you information on the library’s top features all week. Today, we’re highlighting the library’s Free Speech Timeline, which provides an interactive history lesson on freedom of expression in America and its historical influences.

Starting with the ratification of the Magna Carta in 1215, the timeline describes how this important document established equitable principles and laid the groundwork for documents like the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. The timeline also covers America’s founding and continues with a focus on many of the landmark free speech developments since the turn of the 20th century. This section of the timeline includes important historical moments such as the founding of the ACLU in 1920 and Congress’ 1990 rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have banned desecrating the U.S. flag, as well as dozens of Supreme Court cases that have shaped First Amendment jurisprudence. You can click on any case in the timeline for a link to the full opinion in our database.

Designed to be the premier resource for information about the First Amendment’s five freedoms, FIRE’s First Amendment Library is a free, online database of First Amendment-related materials. The timeline is just one of many unique features, including educational materials and hard-to-find articles, and more than 900 Supreme Court cases concerning the First Amendment. The content available in the library serves as the foundation for an an easy-to-use, ever-expanding resource for students, professors, law clerks, lawmakers, judges, lawyers, journalists, and anyone else who wants to learn about the First Amendment.

The First Amendment Library is a growing resource, so check back often for additions to our Free Speech Timeline and other topical timelines coming soon.