This chapter examines the role that free speech activists play in the democratic debate. It considers how these free speech activists nurture ideas that are later adopted by major political parties and instilled as national policy. It argues that the First Amendment must not only protect the autonomy of these activist groups from government harassment but also ensure that they are given full access to the public forum to make their case to the American people. In particular, it contends that these activists must be given the right of peaceful protest. The chapter cites the civil rights movement as an example of the way free speech activists play a catalytic role in the process of political change and concludes by discussing the First Amendment dimensions of national security investigations as they relate to the rights of political activists.
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