TheFirst Amendment is an amendment that protects the right of speech, petition,assembly, religion, and press. The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment ofreligion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom ofspeech, or of the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble and topetition the government for redress of grievances.” (heritage.org)TheFirst Amendment was created in 1789, by James Madison who was also nicknamed”the father of the Constitution.” He was the fourth president of the UnitedStates and served from 1809-1817.
Madison and Jefferson both founded the Democratic- Republican Party from 1743-1826. Madison played a big role in theratification of process of the Bill of Rights. After the extensive debate, the U.
S Constitution was signed in Septemberof 1787. James Madison is the person who wrote the ten amendments. Madisonbelieved that the Bill of Rights were necessary, because he did not think thegovernment would ever become too powerful to need one.
But Madison did not doit alone. Madison’s mentor, Thomas Jefferson convinced him to propose the Billof Rights. All the rights stated in the first amendment were all concerns ofThomas Jefferson. (thought.co.com) TheFirst Amendments Establishment clause prohibits the government from making anylaw “respecting an establishment of religion.” One argument regarding to TheEstablishment Clause is how to manipulate the government’s actions that relateto religion.
(law.cornell.edu) The First Amendment also has a Free ExerciseClause. This clause protects citizen’s rights to practice religion to theirwill.
Their right is protected, as long as their practice does not disturb”public morals.” (uscourts.gov)Inthe Supreme Court Case Prince vs Massachusetts in 1944, Sarah Prince was amother of her two sons and had custody of her niece. The family are Jehovah Witnesses.
The children would distribute religious magazines weekly on the streets. OnDecember 18, 1941 Sarah Prince allowed the children to accompany her as shedistributed the magazines and attended a preaching ceremony. She later receiveda conviction for violating Massachusetts child labor laws. (casebriefs.
com) Lemon vs Kurtzman is a Supreme Court casewhich determined if a practice violates the Establishment Clause. The lemontest was a consolidation of two different First Amendment challenges betweenRhode Island and Pennsylvania statues that provided state aid to churchschools. Both statutes provided aid in the form of salary supplements toteachers of non-religious subjects at non-public schools. Pennsylvania furtherprovided aid in the form of instructional materials. (berkelycenter.georgeown.
org)Todetermine if this violated the Establishment Clause, the Court gave a testbased on prior court decisions. First the statute must have a secular purpose;second its primary effect must not inhibit religion; finally, the statue mustnot foster excessive entanglement with religious schools. To make sure fundsprovided were used for non-religious purposes, the court made sure there wasgovernment monitoring. (berkelycenter.georgetown.
org)TheFree Exercise clause protects the right to believe in a religion but not actupon the religion. Limits are placed on this clause. For example, if thereligion one chooses to practice requires human sacrifice, this is not allowed.The first Supreme Court case that addressed the free exercise clause wasReynolds vs U.S in 1878.
In this case, the Court banned the practice of havingmore than one wife or husband. For religious duty by Mormons. In this caseGeorge Reynolds, who lived in Utah, was married to his wife Mary Ann Tuddenham,he also married Amelia Jane Schofield. In the U.S if someone marries more thanone person, they are guilty of bigamy and will be fined maximum of $500 andimprisonment for no more than five years. Reynolds argued that his religionrequired him to marry multiple women and his case was later brought up to theSupreme Court. “The Court concluded that people cannot excuse themselves fromthe law because of their religion.” (billofrightsinstitute.
org) In the case of Sherbet vs Verner, Ms. Sherbertwas fired from her job due to her Seventh – day Adventist which required her tonot work on Saturday’s. Ms. Sherbet could not find any other employment thatallowed her to not work on Saturdays, so she then filed for state unemployment,but was denied. The court created the Sherbet test which asked if the statepolicy imposed a burden on the claimant’s right to free exercise religion. Thetest determined Ms.
Sherbert was burdened in her free exercise of religion. TheCourt later overturned the denial of state unemployment benefits to Ms.Sherbert and created the possibility for people who practice religion to claimexemptions from generally applicable laws. (berkerlycenter.org)TheFirst amendment’s protection of speech also has its limits. For example, in theSupreme Court case Schneck vs U.S after America entered World War I in 1917.Congress passed a law called the Espionage Act.
This law stated that during time of war, trying to make soldiersdisloyal was a crime. Charles Schneck was against the war, and mailed thousandsof pamphlets to soldiers who were in the armed forces. His pamphlet stated, “Thegovernment had no right to send American citizens to other countries to killpeople.” Schenck was later accused of violating the Espionage Act. Scheckargued that the Espionage Act was unconstitutional and broke the FirstAmendment’s promise to a citizen’s right of speech. The case was judged in1919.
The judge’s decision was “how far a person’s freedom of speech extendsdepends on the circumstance.” When a nation is at war, things said during timesof peace can be used to cause obstructions. The government has the power topunish someone who is causing clear potential danger. (americanbar.org)Inthe case Tinker vs. Des Moines, students’ rights to free speech were violated.John and Mary Beth Tinker wore black armbands to school, to protest the VietnamWar. The school district of Des Moines, Iowa public schools banned armbandsresulting in the suspension of many students.
The case was brought up to theSupreme Court, who decided that “the armbands were basically pure speech andthe schools action was unconstitutional.” Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decisionin favor of the students. (billofrights.org)Bethelvs Fraser was also another case of a school district trying to limit the rightof students. Mathew Fraser a senior at Bethel high school, spoke at a studentassembly to nominate his class mate for student government. He gave a speechwhich contained sexual references. Fraser was then suspended for three days.
His parents disagreed with the school’s disciplinary actions. The Supreme Courtagreed stating Fraser’s free rights of speech were violated. The Court decidedin a 7-2 ruling that “the school officials acted within the Constitution bydiscipling Mathew Fraser.” (americanbar.
org) Expressingyourself symbolically is also protected under the freedom of speech like in theSupreme Court case Texas vs Johnson. Gregory Lee Johnson burned the AmericanFlag outside the convention center where the Republican National Convention wasbeing held. Johnson burned the flag to protest the policies of Ronald Reagan.Johnson was arrested and charged with “desecrating a flag in violation of Texaslaw.” No one was physically injured or threatened yet some said they wereoffended by the flag burning.
After the trial Johnson was convicted andsentenced to one year in prison, along with a $2000 fine. The court laterrealized that Johnsons actions was symbolic speech, protected under the firstamendment. (law.
cornell.edu) The Supreme Court came to a 5-4 ruling, decidingthat desecration of the U.S flag was constitutionally protected and certainindividuals taking offense to certain ideas of expression does not justifyprohibition of free speech. (briticanna.com)Thefirst amendment also consists of the right to petition. “People have the rightto appeal the government in favor of or against polices that affect them or inwhich they feel strongly.” One will only be allowed to petition as long as itis non-violent and legal. Different forms of petitioning are: “Lobbying,letter-writing, e-mail campaigns, testifying, filing lawsuits, supportingreferenda, collecting signatures for ballot initiatives, peaceful protest and picketing.
“The right to petition does not mean that the government will respond in acertain way or respond at all. (learningtogive.org)Thefreedom of petition clause also applies to state governments, localgovernments, and federal governments. Citizens can petition any branch ofgovernment, which includes: the executive, legislative and judicial branch. Petitioningthe government can be restricted. For example, someone petitioning thegovernment must prove they are affected by the matter being petitioned.
Petitioning played a big role during the CivilWar for African Americans who held boycotts and picketing. The First Congresswanted to make sure if the people had grievances with the government, theywould be able to petition without the fear of punishment as a result. (Revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com)Petitioningthe government goes back as far as the Magna Carta.
The Magna Carta stated, “Ifwe, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in anyrespect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or ofthis security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-fivebarons, they shall come to us – or in our absence from the kingdom to the chiefjustice—to declare it and claim immediate redress.” (learningtogive.org) Thismeans, even though the power was only given to 25 barons elected by the king,the barons still had the right to petition the kingdom if they disagreed withanything.Inthe Supreme Court Case Kings Mall vs Wenk, individuals were protestinggovernment polices with the goal of trying to change them. May 2005 individualsbegan protesting several times at Kings Mall. The individuals who wereprotesting were veterans of the Armed Services, who were protesting thegovernment’s participation in Iraq. They chose to protest at Kings Mall becausethere was a military recruitment center there (nyclu.org).
The plaintiff is theowner of the shopping center. Displayed at each entrance of the mall arenotices stating, “The mall is reserved only for the use of the owners andemployees of business tenants and their patrons.” Mr. Wenks protest becameaggressive and disorderly leaving the plaintiff to stop him from entering theproperty. The plaintiff then proceeded with a preliminary injunction. TheSupreme Court granted the preliminary injunction allowing the defendants toprotest outside for limited amount of time Saturday afternoons. (leagle.com) InThe Supreme Court Case Edwards vs South Carolina, a group of people came toprotest segregation in South Carolina.
There was no violence, and no one madeany threats towards violence. The police arrived and told the protestors theyhad limited time to vacate or they would be arrested. The protestors refused toleave, and began singing and clapping. The police later came back and arrested187 people. They were all convicted of a “breach of the peace.
” South Carolinaargued that the law against the breach of peace applied to protest. The caselater went to the Supreme Court. The court held that South Carolina violatedthe protestors First Amendment rights to freedom of expression, petition andpeaceful assembly. The Court stated, “If the petitioner had violated a lawregulating traffic, or disobeyed a law reasonably limiting the periods duringwhich the State House grounds were open to the public this would be a differentcase.” (billofrightsinstitute.org)”Thefreedom of press is the right to circulate opinions in print without censorshipfrom the government.” Americans enjoy freedom of the press under the FirstAmendment to the Constitution, which states: Congress shall make nolaw…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” (study.
com) Printincludes magazines, newspaper, or pictures. Example of cases that freedom of pressprotects are paparazzi or radio shows. Although paparazzi go to extrememeasures to get a picture, they are still protected under the freedom of press.The newspaper has a big impact an influence on society.
The newspaper can printviews and facts without being censored. But the newspaper cannot print whateverthey please, they are not allowed to print biased articles or any informationthat can harm the people, state or government. The newspaper can print positiveor beneficial information or articles. (billofrights.org) John peter Zenger was accused of publishinginformation opposed to the government, in the Supreme Court case Crown vs JohnPeter Zenger. John printed a publication called the “New York Weekly Journal.”The publication accused the government of rigging elections and allowing theFrench enemy to explore New York harbor.
It also accused the governor ofseveral crimes. Zenger was just the printer of the article but left the authoranonymous. He was accused in 1733 of libel, but the jury later found him notguilty and let him go. (ushhistory.org)Asimilar trial occurred in the case of People vs Croswell. Harry Croswellpublished a story claiming President Jefferson paid James Callender, apublisher to run negative stories against his opponents.
Croswell was thencharged with criminal libel and sedition. The trial began, and the jury foundCroswell guilty. Alexander Hamilton later brought the case to the New YorkSupreme Court. Hamilton argued that the “freedom of press, stating that theright of giving the truth evidence, in case of libels, is all important to theliberties of the people.” April 6, 1805, the New York Legislature enacted thatproviding the truth was a defense to a libel charge. (nycourts.gov)Theright of peaceful assembly is the “right to hold peaceful public assemblywithout the government’s interference.
” But the government can put restrictionson the time, place, and manner of the assembly. (loc.gov) Assemblies held mayalso require permits, in some instances constitution protection may be extendedto private property. In the Supreme Court Case Marsh vs Alabama in 1946 statedthat owners and operators of a company cannot prohibit the distribution ofreligious literature in business district, because such expression wasprotected under the first amendment. (Lincoln.edu) Inthe Supreme Court Case DeJonge vs Oregon, The Supreme Court That the right topeaceful assembly was just as important as the freedom of speech and press. In1939, Oregon enforced a “criminal syndicalism law.” This law banned advocacy ofany unlawful acts as means of effecting industrial or political change.
Mr.DeJonge was accused of assisting the organization of the meeting that wascalled under the auspices of a communist party. DeJonge argued that the meetingwas public and held for lawful purposes. The meeting called was neitherunlawful or had criminal syndicalism. The U.
S Supreme Court overturned the law,and reversed DeJonge’s conviction finding that “the holding of meetings forpeaceful political action cannot be proscribed.”(constituitonallawreporter.com)Coxvs New Hampshire was a court case that dealt with the requirement of a permit.A New Hampshire town required that a license be obtained before a parade couldbe held. A group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, held a side walk parade withoutobtaining a license and were fined for violating the New Hampshire law. TheSupreme Court ruled that “although the government cannot regulate the contents ofspeech.
” The government is only allowed to put a time and place restriction forthe safety of others. New Hampshire was not allowed to prohibit speech but onlyregulate it when it took the form of a large gathering. (us.courts.gov)Inconclusion the first amendment is the first of the ten amendments written inthe Bill of Rights. This amendment is most significant out of the tenamendments.
James Madison wrote the first amendment, with the help of ThomasJefferson in 1789. This amendment protects our basic rights as U.S citizens. Whichstates “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, orprohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, orof the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble and to petition thegovernment for redress of grievances.” Even though we have free will to thefive basic rights of being a U.
S citizen, each comes with its own limits andrules. Thefreedom of religion is the right to practice any religion one chooses. Thefreedom of speech is the right for citizens to express themselves publiclywithout government interference. The freedom of petition is the rights forcitizens to speak on a policy or issue affecting them or they feel stronglyabout to the government.
The freedom ofpress is the right to circulate opinions in print without censorship from thegovernment. Lastly the right of peaceful assembly is the right to hold peacefulpublic assembly without the government’s interference.