The Amendments

Shaping the Constitution, one change at a time.

By Alec Simonson

The First Amendment: Our Freedoms in Society

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Explanation

The first amendment explains our freedoms under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The freedoms listed in this amendment are the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of petition, and the freedom of assembly. Even though there are so many freedoms, there is also a major restriction under this amendment. You are not allowed to use any of these freedoms given to you in libelous or slanderous ways.

A Video Explaining The First Amendment

First Amendment Rap

The Freedom of Speech

Explanation

The freedom of speech means you are able to speak freely in public without government interference. I feel that there should be freedom of speech unless violence is involved.

Current Event: Morse v. Frederick

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In 2007 the Olympic Torch Relay passed through Juneau, Alaska on its way to Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics. On the route of the torch was the Juneau-Douglas High School. Since the torch was passing by, the principal allowed all of the staff and students to go out and was the Torch Rally from the street. Joseph Frederick, a senior at the school, and a couple of friends unraveled a banner on the street that said "BONG HiTS FOR JESUS." When Principal Morse saw the banner, she ordered it to be immediately taken down. All of the students understood and put down the banner except for Frederick. Fredrick was then confiscated of his banner and was told to immediately go to the office. Principal Morse suspended Fredrick for ten days because she thought the banner related to illegal use of drugs. The result of this case was interpreted that Principal Morse did not violate Fredrick's rights to the freedom of speech and that schools are allowed to make sure that in no form is illegal drug use encouraged throughout the school.

The First Amendment in History

The Constitution did not get ratified originally because it lacked guarantees for civil liberties. These civil liberties, also known as the First Amendment, provided those guarantees along with the rest of the Bill of Rights which finally got the Constitution ratified on December 15, 1791.

My Opinion

My opinion of freedom of speech is that people should have the right to speak freely about their beliefs except if it could hurt someone physically.

The Freedom of The Press

Explanation

The freedom of the press allows the press to be able to publish new, information, opinions, and pictures with the government's consent.

Current Event: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

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In 1983 at the Hazelwood East High School in Missouri, a student written and edited newspaper wanted to print articles that the principal found inappropriate. The first articles was about three students' experiences with pregnancy. The principal found this article inappropriate because the students may be indirectly identified and that some of the words that were going to be used in the articles were not fit for some of the student that also went to that school. The second article was about a girl student who attended the school who blamed her parent's divorce on her father. Kuhlmeier filled a lawsuit against the school for refusing to let them put these two articles in the school paper. The result of the lawsuit was ruled in favor of Hazelwood East High School because the court did not believe that Kuhlmeier's First Amendment rights were violated.

Freedom of the Press in History

In England, when the Stamp Act started in 1765, the printers of books, pamphlets and posters turned into publishers. Samuel Adams, who was a radical publisher, roused the people by using the colonial press to resist the Stamp Act, which was eventually repealed. Samuel Adam's response to the Stamp Act started the era of modern journalism. He wrote, "But YOUR Press has sounded the alarm. YOUR Press has spoken to us the words of truth. It has pointed to this people their danger and their remedy. It has set before them liberty and slavery…”

My Opinion

My opinion of freedom of the press is that the press should be able to express anything they want to the public, except if the writing could physically damage a person.

The Freedom of Religion

Explanation

The freedom of religion prohibits the government from establishing a religion. It also protects the right of people to practice or to not practice a religion freely and without the government's consent.

Current Event: Violation of the Establishment Clause

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To address the failing public schools in Cleveland, a voucher program was enacted by the State of Ohio in 2002. that provided vouchers to low-income parents to use at participating public and private schools. The problem was that that schools that chose to participate were only overwhelming religious private schools. This brought up the question if Cleveland's voucher system aided only religious private schools was a violation of the Establishment Clause. The result of this case was that Cleveland's voucher program did not violate the Establishment Clause and only gave parents who were able to participate in the voucher program a choice of different religious educational schools.

History of the Freedom of Religion

The freedom of religion was put in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to prohibit the government from establishing a national religion. It also prohibits the government from involving itself excessively in religion, especially to the point that they put one religion over another.

My Opinion

My opinion on the freedom of religion is that people should have the right to practice any religion and express any belief in public without government interference.

The Freedom of Petition

Explanation

The freedom of petition allow people to appeal to the government if they are in favor of or against policies that they feel strongly about or that affect them.

Current Event: Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation

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In 1998 in the city Colorado, there is an initiative-petition where citizens can make laws directly through balloting initiatives. The American Constitutional Law Foundation acted on behalf of the petitioners and challenged six of the limitations that Colorado imposed on the petitioning process on the petitioners behalf. After many mixed ruling in both appellate and trial courts, the Supreme Court came up with a solution and agreed to review three of the six original restrictions. The first initiative required the circulators of petitions to be registered voters. The second initiative required the petitioners to wear name tags that stated their name, status, and finally their employer's phone number.

The Freedom of Petition in History

The founding fathers included the freedom to petition because they wanted to make sure that the citizens of the United States could tell the government about their problems without getting punished.

My Opinion

My opinion on the freedom of petition is that people should have the right to assemble a petition, but it is the government's job to decide if what the petition is about is constitutional or not.

The Freedom of Assembly

Explanation

The freedom of assembly allows people to have the right to gather in public to march, protest, demonstrate, and carry signs. The only restriction is that you cannot express your views in a violent way.

Current Event: Nashville Protestors

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A group of protesters, who were camping out for two days on the grounds of the state capitol in downtown Nashville without a permit were released from jail on October 28, 2011. They were arrested and kept in jail for a few hours because they refused to leave the grounds after the police told them they had 10 minutes to do so. Thomas Nelson, the Night Court Magistrate let them all go after the protesters were held in custody for a few hours.

Freedom of Assembly in History

The freedom of assembly at first only allowed for being able to petition the government. The British king refused to hear the wishes and demands of the American colonists even before the United States declared independence from Britain. The freedom of assembly was put into the Bill of Rights because First Amendment wanted to make it clear that the U.S. government would listen to its citizens.

My Opinion

My opinion on the freedom of assembly is that people should be able to create an assembly without the government's consent unless it is an act of slander.

Owning Firearms

Explanation

The freedom of assembly allows people to have the right to gather in public to march, protest, demonstrate, and carry signs. The only restriction is that you cannot express your views in a violent way.

The Second Amendment: The Right to Own Firearms

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The second amendment talks about the right to bear arms. To be able to own a gun, although you have the right to it, the seller do a mandatory background check. At events like gun shows, not everyone who purchases a gun has to go through a background check. A licensed gun dealer does a background check by using the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System. A non-licensed gun dealer is not required to do a background check at all and make up a percent of sales at a gun show.
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Gov. Cuomo Signs Gun Control Bill

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, signed the gun control bill into law. This bill was signed at 5:30pm on 1-15-2013. By Governor Cuomo signing this bill, it made New York the first state since the Newtown school shooting to do so. This bill restricts gun sales and also requires a report of threats for someone mentally ill to be able to buy or own a gun.
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The Second Amendment In History

The second amendment allows people the right to bear arms. The reasons that they passed the amendment is for organizing a military, participating in law enforcement, deterring an overpowered government, repelling invasion, repelling rebellion, especially slave revolts, and allowing for a right of self defense. The founding fathers included this in the Bill of Rights because they wanted to make sure everybody had a firearm if in the case that they needed something to defend themselves.

My Opinion on the Matter

I believe that people should be able to own and use guns, but only in matters where a person needs self-defense.