Is hate speech protected by the Constitution?

Aug 23, 2017

The National Park Service today has decided to issue a permit to right-wing group Patriot Prayer for a rally on Saturday in San Francisco’s Crissy Field.

Organizers call the SF event a "Free Speech Rally," touting their right to peacefully rally for free speech. On their Facebook page patriot prayer claims "extremists are not welcome." There’s a similar rally planned for Berkeley the following day. But these rallies come in the aftermath of the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, protests just 10 days earlier. San Francisco supervisors, the mayor, and other officials have either expressed outrage or have called for the rally permit to be revoked, and Bay Area activists have organized counter protests. But what can happen legally? Where’s the line when it comes to rallies that have the potential to turn violent? What does the First Amendment protect and what does it not? Julie Nice, a lawyer and constitutional law professor at University of San Francisco, discussed the limitations of free speech.

"The First Amendment really does protect the ideas, even if they're racist, and the speech, even if it's racist."

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.