Amendment 1

Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition

The First Amendment

This amendment is about how Congress is not authorized to create a law regarding religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. The first amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an 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."

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion means that Congress is not allowed to pass a law that prohibits someone from believing in their religion. For example, Congress cannot make everyone in the country be Jewish or Catholic. Congress also cannot make anyone worship someone, if they don't want to. People in our country can have no religion at all, and Congress is not allowed to get involved in making them believe in a certain religion. Freedom of religion is very important because some people might believe in different religions than others. I feel that freedom of religion is important, because it gives people the right to believe in what they want to believe in. This section of the First Amendment was made because when the colonies were still a part of England, the British wanted everyone to have the same religion.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is being allowed to say what is on your mind, but freedom of speech is not unlimited. The laws included in freedom of speech prohibit slander and libel. Slander is false speech intended to damage a person's reputation. Libel is untrue written or published information intended to damage a person's reputation. The two, libel and slander, are quite similar. Citizens can criticize the government without getting in trouble by Congress. Libel and slander are not the only restrictions of freedom of speech. People are not allowed to give away military secrets. Citizens also are not allowed to, for example, yell, "GUN!" in an airport security. I believe that this is fair and should not be changed because it gives people the right to say what they want to say, but without anyone getting hurt by it. This part of the First Amendment was placed in the Constitution because George Washington said, "If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

Freedom of Press

Freedom of the press is the "freedom of communication and expression through mediums including various electronic media and published materials" -Wikipedia. American press is not subject to prior restraint. Prior restraint means that government cannot censor information before it is published or broadcast. Prior restraint lets people talk on the phone without the government listening to your conversation. For example, radio stations have freedom of press, as do tabloids, newspapers, and magazines. This was put in the First Amendment because without it, it was against the law to print anything that was considered by the government to be seditious libel.

Freedom of Assembly

Freedom of assembly is "individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue, and defend common interests" -Wikipedia. People can pass out pamphlets, hold meetings, and peaceably advertise their beliefs, but courts have ruled that they can require a group to obtain a permit before holding meetings or demonstrations. Freedom of assembly is sometimes also called freedom of association. I feel that freedom of assembly is needed in the Bill of Rights because it helps people express their feelings about something. It also can help people get raises. For example, bus drivers are now protesting for a raise because they feel that they are not receiving the proper amount of money that they should be getting for all of their hard work. This is where freedom of assembly comes into action.

Freedom to Petition

First, the right to petition only applied to those in the legislative branch. Now, it applies to everyone in the country. This section of the First Amendment protects the right to criticize government officials and their actions. The rights to sign petitions in support of an idea, to present those petitions in support of an idea, to give those petitions to government officials, and to send letters to those officials are all protected. I feel that if someone does not like something, and wants to petition, they should be allowed to petition against it. For example, in 2007, the U.S Senate considered a bill an "ethics reformed" bill. This bill was opposed by numerous organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Right to Life Committee, and the National Rifle Association. On January 18, 2007, the Senate voted 55-43 to take out Section 220 from the bill.

By Kaitlyn Ockerman