Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is commonly thought of as an indispensable right, without it, other fundamental rights, like the right to vote, would wither and die. For example, if an illegal search and seizure took place, one may not be able to voice an objection to it without the freedom of speech.

In addition to the listed protections in either constitutions courts have also implied there is a ‘right to know’ and ‘right to access’ government documents.

Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.

— Ariz. Const. art. 2, § 6.

Arizonans enjoy the freedom of speech from the United States Constitution and from the Arizona Constitution.  The question is: does the state protections offer more support than the federal protections?

The Arizona Constitution art. 2, § 6 has a “greater scope than the first amendment.”  Mountain States Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Arizona Corp. Comm’n,  773 P.2d 455, 459 (Ariz. 1989).  The court notes the difference between the protection from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Arizona Constitution is the genesis of the right.  The First Amendment states the government shall not infringe upon speech.  Whereas, the Arizona Constitution gives the right of speech directly to the people.   Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. v. Superior Court, 418 P.2d 594 (Ariz. 1966) (holds a judicial gag order could be viewed as censorship of newspapers); Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. v. Jennings, 490 P.2d 563 (Ariz. 1971) (held a right for the public to attend criminal trials nine years before the United States Supreme Court held it to be protected under the First Amendment).

“[O]ur recognition of the broad protection for speech in Arizona conforms with the Washington Supreme Court’s reading of Washington Constitution art. 1, § 5, the model for Arizona’s art. 2, § 6.” Mountain States Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Arizona Corp. Comm’n, 773 P.2d 455, 460 (Ariz. 1989); C.f. Wash. Const. art. 1, § 5 – Freedom of Speech.

Other courts have recognized the similarities between state constitutional provisions for free speech.  “Article 2, Section 6 of the Arizona Constitution of 1910, enacted after ours, is identical to Washington’s free speech provision.” State v. Coe, 679 P.2d 353, 361 (Wash. 1984). Because of the similarities, Arizona Courts often look to Washington free speech cases for non-binding guidance.  Likewise, Washington used similar language from California’s Constitution.  “Const. art. 1, § 5 [of the Washington Constitution] was modeled after the California provision.” State v. Coe, 679 P.2d 353, 361 (Wash. 1984); c.f. Cal. Const. art. 1, § 2.

Since it is established Arizona protects more speech than the U.S. Constitution, in what ways is there more recognition?

United States Constitution

Arizona Constitution

Recent Cases:

Korwin v. Cotton, CV 12-0878 (Ariz. Ct. App. May 8, 2014).


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A Discussion About the Law in Arizona

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