Amendments 1 and 2

By Lisbeth Rubin

Amendment 1--Freedom of Speech

"Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The First Amendment is one of the most important amendments in the Bill of Rights. It protects your right to many things, including freedom of speech. Even though you have the right to freedom of speech, it doesnt mean you can say anything you want. Freedom of speech is not unlimited. Laws passed by Congress prohibit libel and slander. Slander is intentionally speaking bad about someone. Libel is purposely damaging people in published articles and statements.

Freedom of Speech in the News--Morse vs. Frederick

In 2002, the Olympic Torch Relay passed through Juneau, Alaska. It was on it's way to Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics. A local high school let their students stand in the street and watch the Relay. Four students including Joseph Frederick held up a banner stating "BONG HiTS FOR JESUS." Their principal saw the banner and demanded the students put it down. Three of the students complied, but Frederick just kept it held high. The next day, his principal suspended him for encouraging drug use. His family hired an attorney to sue the principal. They took the case to Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that if the banner encouraged drug use and inapropriate behavior, then Frederick did not have the right to hold the banner up. Frederick was sentenced to community service, for it was only his first offense.

My Opinion

In my opinion, people don't have the right to entire freedom of speech. The First Amendment does not apply to offensive, inappropriate or hurtful words. If it did, then that amendment would be violating itself. If anyone could say whatever they desired, then The First Amendment unconstitutional.

History of Freedom of speech

The First Amendment was included in the Constitution to make sure everyone has the right to Freedom of Speech, Religion, Petition, Assembly and Press. The framers knew that Freedom of Speech should be part of the First Amendment. To make it a free country, people should have the right to freedom of speech, with limitations.

Amendment 1--Freedom of Religion

When Congress wrote the First Amendment, they included many rights in it. One of those rights was the freedom of religion. By this, Congress means that there needs to be a wall of separation between churches and states. They mean that people cannot be judged based on what they believe and who they pray to.

Freedom of Religion in the news

Muslim women have been known to, when in public, be wearing head coverings and scarves. They must wear those when in public and in the presence of men who are not part of their immediate family. That belief is part of their religion. On August 13, 2012, Imane Boudlal, a former employee of the Storytellers Café at Disney’s California Adventure filed suit against Disney for harassment and religious discrimination because she is a North African Arab and a Muslim. Boudlal, a U.S. citizen born in Morocco, began working at Storytellers Café in April of 2008. From the beginning, she was subjected to anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slurs from her coworkers and supervisors, including “terrorist,” “camel” and others. She reported the harassment to her managers, who admitted a problem but never tried to stop the racism. In 2009, Boudlal began wearing the hijab in all public settings outside of work, where she was afraid she would be fired for wearing it. A year later, she decided to be true to her religion and asked for permission to wear the scarf at work. After a delay of two months, managers denied her request, saying the hijab would negatively affect the experience of restaurant patrons. She offered to wear a scarf in the restaurant's colors. But, Disney demanded her to wear a large, goofy-looking fedora-type hat on top of her hijab. When she refused, she was fired. The hearing for the lawsuit has not begun yet, but Imane Boudlal's lawyer has released photos taken by Boudlal of dolls in the Disney Princess area of the them park. The photos show dolls wearing hijabs. Boudlal's lawyer says "The film Aladdin grossed over 200 million dollars in revenues. But Disney’s tolerance of religious practices of Muslim women does not extend to real life women. Imane would have been acceptable to Disney only were she an animated character or a Muslim doll in their park. This is cold and calculating religious intolerance unacceptable according to our laws and most cherished values.”

My opinion

I think that if Muslim women want to wear a headscarf in public, or if Jewish people want to wear a Star of David, they should be allowed to. If the Constitution permits it, who are managers of restaurants to stand in those people's way? Freedom of Religion has no limits and should never have any. The thing about America that sets in apart from lots of other countries is freedom. If someone in Giza cannot wear a Jewish star necklace without getting shot, then they should be able to immigrate to America, get a job, and not be scolded at the job for wearing a religious item. A friend of mine once told me they knew a family who walked into a restaurant. They went to the hostess and put their name in. The hostess lady said it would be a 20 minute wait. For almost an hour, the family sat at the restaurant watching families the same size as theirs get seated right away. My friend told me this happened because their last name was very obviously a Jewish last name and the restaurant purposely never gave them a table because they were anti-Semitic.


Freedom of religion was first applied as a principle of government in the founding of the colony of Maryland, founded by the Catholic Lord Baltimore. Lord Baltimore drafted a document to convince the Congress to include Religion of Freedom in their pending Constitution. "No person or persons...shall from henceforth be any waies troubled, molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof." The Maryland Toleration Act was repealed during the Cromwellian Era. In its place, a new law barring Catholics from openly practicing their religion. After many protests, Lord Baltimore regained control after making a deal with the colony's Protestants and the act was again passed by the colonial assembly.

Amendment 1--Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the Press is defined as "the right to publish newspapers, magazines, and other printed matter without governmental restriction and subject only to the laws of libel, obscenity, sedition, etc." Freedom of the Press prohibits the government from interfering with printing and distribution of private media company's information.

Freedom of the Press in the News

The inside front cover of the November 1983 issue of Hustler Magazine featured a "parody" of an advertisement for Campari Liqueur that contained the name and picture of Jerry Falwell. The Hustler parody portrays Falwell and his mother as drunk and agressive and suggests that Falwell is a hypocrite who preaches only when he is drunk. In small print at the bottom of the page, the ad contains the disclaimer, "ad parody is not to be taken seriously." The magazine's table of contents also lists the ad as "Fiction; Ad and Personality Parody." Soon after the November issue of Hustler became available to the public, Falwell took action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia against Hustler Magazine. He stated in his complaint that publication of the ad parody in Hustler entitled him to receive damages for invasion of privacy and "intentional infliction of emotional distress." The case proceeded to trial. At the close of the case, the District Court decided verdict for petitioners on the invasion of privacy claim. The jury ruled for Jerry Falwell on the "intentional infliction of emotional distress" claim. They decided he should be awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages. The Court decided that Freedom of Press cannot extend to printing false and/or private information.

My Opinion

I think that the government should always be allowed to monitor things that are said on TV or printed in a magazine. After all, the government is in charge of the country. Anything printed can reflect badly on the government. Even if media is being printed by a private company, the only reason that the private company is allowed to print the media is because the government gives them power to.

Amendment 2--Right to Bear Arms

Amendment 2

"No Free man shall ever be debarred the use and ownership of arms." That is stated in Amendment 2 of the Constitution. It means that all free people have the right to own and use guns and other weapons. Recently, people have been questioning whether you should have a permit to own a gun.

Amendment 2 In the News

Recently, 20 children were shot in Newtown, Connecticut at an elementary school. This shooting caused many people to think about the gun control law. The Constitution says that all people have the right to own and use guns. After this shooting, the government has been thinking about amending Amendment 2.

My Opinion

I think that guns should be illegal because all they do is cause harm and promote violence. I think to obtain guns you MUST have a permit. For example, a movie production company that wants to film an action movie must have a permit that allows them to buy guns. But, to get a permit you have to be approved. If you are just some guy who wants a gun, you will not be able to obtain a gun. You can only get one with a permit or in times of war.

History of the Second Amendment

The framers believed that the second amendment was important. They thought this because they believed that an armed population, organized into a well-regulated army, was a good way to defend the country without a large professional army. It would also give American people the ability to defend their liberties if the government ever became a dictatorship.

History of Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the Press has existed in the United States since roughly 1725. Before that time, publications in England and in the American colonies were subject to strict licensing by the government, meaning the government had to give one license to print anything. In particular, it was against the law to print anything that was considered by the government to be "seditious" or "libel". This meant it was illegal to print anything that criticized the government or its officials. This speech was deemed to have the potential to create public rebellions. It didn't matter whether or not the information was true.