DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

April 24, 2014

About the Law: When is free speech restricted?

I was thrown out of a basketball game because, out of frustration, I screamed and swore at the referee. Is using curse words covered under the First Amendment? Isn’t free speech protected and can I get my later suspension overturned?

If you were in a scholastic league event, you’re pretty much out of luck because, for the most part, the rules have been fairly well tested and the rules are the rules.

But, to answer the question, let’s assume you were not in a scholastic event or that you have tons of money to appeal the rules all the way to the Supreme Court.

A person walked into court with a fairly profane statement on his jacket and the Supreme Court held that he could not be held criminally liable, that this profane display was protected.

But, threatening language is not protected. The court has upheld sanctions against statements with serious expressions of intent to commit violence to an individual or group of individuals. A true threat is defined as a real threat to one’s personal safety.

Courts grant public schools vast discretion to control what type of language can be spoken on school property. In one case, the Supreme Court held it a “highly appropriate function of public school education to prohibit the use of vulgar and offensive terms in public discourse.”

I have Medicare and Medicaid, so do I really need to purchase Medical Payments on my car insurance? I exist on an extremely limited fixed income.

My car isn’t worth much, but the bank requires me to have auto insurance. I’ve heard that Medicare won’t pay for accident injuries but Medicaid will. So do I need Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage?

Medicare and Medicaid both pay for medical treatment in follow-up to an accident all the time. But, they’re not happy about it. In fact, both have a lien on any ultimate settlement by statute.

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