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Survey: More Americans Support First Amendment Freedoms

Finally....some good news to report this holiday. A new survey shows that support among Americans for First Amendment freedoms is back to pre-911 levels.

Americans’ support for their First Amendment freedoms — deeply shaken by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — continues to rebound and is back at pre-9/11 levels, according to the annual State of the First Amendment survey, conducted by the First Amendment Center in collaboration with American Journalism Review magazine.

“The 2004 survey found that just 30 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement, ‘The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees,’ with 65 percent disagreeing. The nation was split evenly, 49 percent to 49 percent, on that same question two years ago, in the survey following the ‘9/11’ attacks,” said Gene Policinski, acting director of the First Amendment Center.

Some specific findings:

  • About 65% of respondents indicated overall support for First Amendment freedoms, while 30% said the First Amendment goes too far — a nine-point swing from last year and a dramatic change from the 2002 survey in which Americans were evenly divided on the question at 49% each.
  • 50% said they believe Americans have too little access to information about the federal government’s efforts to combat terrorism — up from 40% in 2002.
  • Just 28% rated America’s education system as doing an “excellent”or “good” job of teaching students about First Amendment freedoms.

The survey results are downloadable (pdf) here. The Seattle PI has more on the survey.

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