The First Amendment has long been celebrated for the protections it provides for the freedoms of speech and the press. Most Missourians are not aware, however, that our state constitution offers even more explicit protection for citizens wishing to express themselves. Article I, section 8, of the Missouri Constitution forbids any legislative body in the state to pass any law impairing the freedom of speech “no matter by what means communicated,” but also guarantees “that every person shall be free to say, write or publish, or otherwise communicate whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuses of that liberty.” The Missouri Supreme Court once noted that this “language could not be broader, nor prohibition nor protection more amply comprehensive.”
Unfortunately, even as courts have favored certain types of speech, they have frequently allowed the government to impose restrictions on disfavored types of speech – even if that speech is shown to be completely harmless. One of the Freedom Center’s primary objectives is to reinvigorate the exceptional protections for free expression built into the Missouri Constitution.