Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment generally prohibits the government from infringing on, or otherwise banning, speech because it does not agree with the message being advocated.
Freedom of speech is a fundamental political right of a U.S. citizen to freely voice or express his opinions and ideas. The Founding Fathers considered it to be a natural right that was vital to the existence of a healthy republic. While protection of freedom of speech originally applied to the federal government, the Supreme Court eventually applied it to state governments through the 14th amendment of the Constitution. Forms of speech that are protected from government infringement are the rights not to speak, to wear certain clothing as a form of protest, to use profane words and phrases, to contribute money to political campaigns, to advertise commercial products and services, and to engage in symbolic forms of protest, such as flag burning. Although a citizen generally has a right to freely speak, that right is not absolute and is subject to time, place and manner restrictions. Free speech can be limited to certain degrees if it incites others to violence or illegal acts, is libelous, slanderous, hateful or obscene.