Hill.TV poll: Majority says Constitution should protect hate speech

A majority of Americans said they believe the Constitution should protect hate speech even if it offends them, according to a new American Barometer poll. 

The survey, conducted by Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company, found that 63 percent of Americans polled said hate speech should be protected even when it is offensive. 

Thirty-seven percent said the Constitution should not protect hate speech. 

The poll did not find a major partisan rift on the issue. 

Sixty-eight percent of Republicans said they believed the Constitution should protect hate speech, and 60 percent of Democrats agreed. 

Sixty-three percent of independents also said that hate speech should be protected. 

"The American people support free speech. It's protected in our Constitution, but hate speech is destructive," Democratic pollster Carly Cooperman, a partner at Schoen Consulting, told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking." 

"I think a lot of polarization we see comes from hate speech," she added. "I think there's a degree of fatigue when you think about the hatred that comes from that kind of language and it's divisive." 

The survey was conducted on Aug. 10 and 11, before Sunday's white nationalist "Unite the Right 2" rally in Washington, D.C., marking the anniversary of the of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Thousands of anti-racist protesters massively outnumbered the roughly 20 "Unite the Right 2" marchers on Sunday during demonstrations in Lafayette Park, near the White House. 

The American Barometer poll was conducted among 1,000 registered voters. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points. 

— Julia Manchester