The First Two Amendments

What They Are And How They Have Been Used

By: Maxx Estrin

Amendment 1- Freedoms of the People

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is the right for a person to say whatever they want to say. A person can say anything they want to as long as long as what they have said doesn't put anyone else's rights in danger. The freedom of speech was originated in the 5th and 6th centuries BC. The freedom of speech and religion were cherished in the Roman Republic. The freedom of speech is currently used a lot in today's society. Today, there are people protesting in Pakistan against an anti-Islam video made in the US. They are complaining that America's free speech right shouldn't allow Americans to do that. I think that America applies the freedom of speech perfectly. I think they do this well because there are limits that protect people's rights, but otherwise you can say what you want to.

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of Religion is the freedom given to Americans be a part of any religion they choose. Back in the 1690's, the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony hung men and woman. They hung these people because they were accused witch-crafters. These people believed in witch-crafting, yet no one else did. I think that this is one of the more important parts of Amendment 1 because people from other countries can come into our country and keep their religion. Freedom of religion is currently an issue in the Middle Eastern countries because radical Islamic people are trying to control the countries to one religion.

Freedom of Press

Freedom of the press is the freedom of communication and expression through electronic media and published materials. This is also the right that the government can't control what is being published (prior restraint). Through history, government has controlled and censored what is published and the colonists wanted freedom of the press. A current issue with freedom of the press was in Nazi Germany. In Nazi Germany, the freedom of the press was suppressed as Adolf Hitler was coming to power. My opinion on the freedom of the press is that the Founding Fathers did an amazing job.

Freedom to Assemble

The freedom to assemble is the individual right for people to come together and express, promote, pursue, and defend their common interests. The freedom to assemble was currently used by Martin Luther King when he conducted his "March on Washington". The freedom to assemble was historically used in 1876 in United States vs. Cruikshank when the Supreme Court overturned the indictment of 2 white supremacists charged as part of the Colfax Massacre. In the court's ruling the Court declared that the states are not obligated to honor the freedom of assembly. The court then overturned this decision in 1925. I think that this part of the 1st Amendment is written well, but there should be a line drawn. I think there should be a line drawn in where people assemble and how they petition. People shouldn't be allowed to have profanity or have something that would be offensive on their signs. People also shouldn't be able to petition near famous buildings or landmarks.

Right to Petition

The right to petition is a group of people gathering together to protest something. Petitioning is written and it is also done by people signing a piece of paper. I think that this a great part of Amendment 1. I also think there should be limits on their writing. The limits should be the following: people can't use profanity or be offensive. Historically, the right to petition goes all the way back to the Magna Carta in 1215 and the English Bill of Rights in 1689. These documents declared the "right of the subjects to petition the king". The right to petition has also been currently used in 2008. There was a lawsuit filed against Denver and the US Secret Service on behalf of 12 national and local advocacy organizations. These people claimed that Denver and the Secret Service didn't protect the 1st Amendment rights of individual organizations that want to express their thoughts about issues of public concern during the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008.

Amendment 2- Bearing Arms

Bearing Arms

The 2nd Amendment allows people to bear arms. Bearing arms is the right for someone to own a weapon. This Amendment goes way back to the English Bill of Rights in 1689. The Bill of Rights stated the following: "That the subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to the Conditions and as allowed by law". A Protestant is a member of any of the Western Christian churches that are separate from the Roman Catholic Church. There also have been many cases in our time involving gun control. I think one that should be brought up is the incident in Newtown, Connecticut where 26 people died. What happened was a kindergarten teacher had a gun in her house and her son stole it and went on school campus and shot kids and adults. That and many other shootings have brought up a big question: should guns be allowed? I think that there should be a new amendment repealing this amendment. Certain people such as state officials, policemen, and other high officials should be the only people allowed to have guns. If they don't repeal this amendment, then they should set limits on who can have guns. The people I just stated should have guns and if someone wants to buy a gun, then they have to be background checked by the CIA or FBI. These people would have to wait about 3-9 months for approval on getting a gun. Then the person who was approved would have a card saying that they permission to own a gun. That is my opinion on the 2nd Amendment.