R. Rhett Owens
Honors in Political Science:
The Right to Respond: The Patriot Act and its First Amendment Ramifications
My honors thesis explores the First Amendment ramifications of the Patriot Act, a bill passed in response to the attacks of September 11th that generally increases the capability of the federal government to monitor the activities of its citizens. I attempt to determine the balance that our regime must strike between First Amendment speech protection and the authority of the federal government to preserve its sovereignty, to defend itself. My exploration of this balance is garnered from examination of the line of 20th century incitement cases in the Supreme Court and from an examination of the Founders' attitudes towards the First Amendment. I generally conclude that if the United States is to maintain its role as global symbol of free government and natural rights, then the government must be able to first and foremost, maintain its security. Thus, our legislators must continue to pass legislation that resembles the Patriot Act.