Fixing Free Speech

The Meaning of “Low” Value Speech

The second pressing free speech issue concerns the scope of “low” value speech. In recent years, the Supreme Court has taken a narrow view of the low value concept, suggesting that, in order for a category of speech to fall within that concept, there has to have been a long history of government regulation of the category in question. This is true, for example, of such low value categories as defamation, obscenity, and threats. An important question for the future is whether the Court will adhere to this approach.

The primary justification for the Court’s insistence on a history of regulation is that this limits the discretion of the justices to pick-and-choose which categories of expression should be deemed to have only low First Amendment value. A secondary justification for the Court’s approach is that a history of regulation of a category of expression provides some basis in experience for evaluating the possible effects – and dangers – of declaring a new category of speech to have only low First Amendment value.

Why does this doctrine matter? To cite one illustration, under the Court’s current approach, so-called “hate speech” – speech that expressly denigrates individuals on the basis of such characteristics as race, religion, gender, national origin, and sexual orientation – does not constitute low value speech because it has not historically been subject to regulation. As a result, except in truly extraordinary circumstances, such expression cannot be regulated consistent with the First Amendment. Almost every other nation allows such expression to be regulated and, indeed, prohibited, on the theory that it does not further the values of free expression and is incompatible with other fundamental values of society.

Similarly, under the Court’s approach to low value speech it is unclear whether civil or criminal actions for “invasion of privacy” can be reconciled with the First Amendment. For example, can an individual be punished for distributing on the Internet “private” information about other persons without their consent? Suppose, for example, an individual posts naked photos of a former lover on the Internet. Is that speech protected by the First Amendment, or can it be restricted as a form of “low” value speech? This remains an unresolved question.

Leaks of Classified Information

The Supreme Court has held that the government cannot constitutionally prohibit the publication of classified information unless it can demonstrate that the publication or distribution of that information will cause a clear and present danger of grave harm to the national security. New York Times v. United States (The “Pentagon Papers” case) (1971). At the same time, though, the Court has held that government employees who gain access to such classified information can be restricted in their unauthorized disclosure of that information. Snepp v. United States (1980). It remains an open question, however, whether a government employee who leaks information that discloses an unconstitutional, unlawful, or unwise classified program can be punished for doing so. This issue has been raised by a number of recent incidents, including the case of Edward Snowden. At some point in the future, the Court will have to decide whether and to what extent the actions of government leakers like Edward Snowden are protected by the First Amendment.

From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership  to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer.  Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.

Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.

Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit


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