Amendment #1

The Freedoms


Amendment #1 is the first and, arguably, most important amendment. This amendment gives people a variety of "freedoms" with, however, some restraint. Many people exercise this right on a daily basis.

Straight From the Text

“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.”

The Explanation

This amendment gives Americans several rights. The first right it gives is that Americans can worship as they please, or, if they want, they can not have a religion at all. This, quite obviously, is known as the freedom of religion.The second part gives people the right to say what they want, when they want, and to who they want. THis is called freedom of speech. However, you cannot speak falsely or use slander or libel. In addition, any sort of threat that you voice can be taken seriously and is not exactly a protected right. The next portion of the amendment gives freedom of the press. In other words, newspapers can voice their opinions. In addition, the government cannot utilize prior restraint, or stop a press from saying something before it is public. Next, people have the right to petition and advertise their beliefs.The last part of this amendment gives people the right to rally or assemble. People can peacefully criticize government officials. They can convene meetings in order to share the beliefs with other. Now we will delve into each section with finer detail.

Freedom of Speech

Historical Use

Actions may be more powerful than words, but without words, we are nothing. When our Founders were still in England, they were not given a voice. Whatever the king wanted was what happened, and the colonists found this intolerable. In a sense, it was slavery of their minds. After a recent revolt against the king because of their beliefs that what he did was wrong, they were sure not to be men of hypocrisy.

Cartoon-In this political cartoon, someone is voicing there desire for freedom of speech. They also show many online sources where you can share your opinions and speak with freedom

Common-Day Application

One recent case regarding the freedom of speech is Morse v. Frederick. In this case, some students hold up a banner which allegedly promotes illegal drugs. The principal demands that it is taken down, but the student refuses. Chief Justice Roberts says that this case makes clear that people's rights to freedom of speech cannot be hindered simply because of a school type of environment.

Picture-Three men are supporting freedom of speech

My Opinion of Significance

As a whole, the first amendment is an indescribably crucial amendment to the survival of this country. The section of this amendment regarding the freedom of speech is vital as well. Let's examine this. As a democracy, we give each and every citizen a voice. By taking away freedom of speech, we basically confiscate the voice we gave the citizens. This leads to an idiosyncratic contradiction which illustrates hypocrisy at its finest. For example, if my parents asked me what i wanted for my birthday and then said they are not going to get me anything for my birthday, this would lead to an odd predicament. This predicament is exactly what occurs when you take away freedom of speech. However, I do believe the current restrictions on freedom of speech are valid. I do not believe that, when looking at the previous case, the student should have gotten away with expressing an idea which violates the law. I do, however, believe that one should be able to express their issues with the law as long as they don't express their wish to interfere with it. These added restrictions would possibly be my addition to this section of the amendment if I was asked upon.

Freedom of Religion

Historical Use

Religion is a big part of our lives. It helps us understand things which are too large to grasp, and put reasons behind things that are simply unreasonable. When the colonists were in England, they witnessed the King finance certain churches. This seemed discriminatory. In addition, the colonists knew the Americans were a religious people. Because of this love for religion, the colonists knew supporting some religions and not others will simply lead to havoc.

Cartoon-In this political cartoon, a priest named Religion is standing next to a soldier named war. War is saying that he wouldn't be anywhere without the priest, Religion. This exemplifies the constant fights over religion and how unnecessary they are.

Common-Day Application

There is one recent case i find to be extremely interesting. A man referred to as Guy Ballard was charged for defrauding others of their money by offering to heal them in exchange for contributions to the "I am" movement. He claimed that he possessed these healing powers and he was a prophet. The government believed that Ballard asked for the money aware that he did not actually have healing abilities. Ballard wins the case because the judges say that someone's religious beliefs cannot be categorized as true or false. The only thing that mattered was that Ballard was in good faith and truly believed he held legitimate powers.

Picture, in this picture there is wording saying freedom of religion means any religion. This emphasizes that many times. intentionally or accidentally, we don't give people the freedom of not being discriminated which they deserve.

My Opinion of Significance

I believe that this section of the amendment is important. For example, since I am Jewish, would it be fair if I could not go to certain schools as a result. Taking it a step further, what if I live in a relatively Jewish community where no one could go to school because of our religion. Would that be fair? I I believe this amendment is currently being applied the way it should be. I also like that the government does not get involved in supporting any sort of religious event or cause because this could make the government seem biased religiously. However, when returning to the case mentioned beforehand, I believe that the court should be able to rule on the opinion that the "healing" claims are ludicrous!

Freedom of Press

Historical Use

I have come to surmise that this section of the amendment, freedom of the press, has a specific history. Before the Stamp Act, most newspapers treated their job like many other printing jobs. However, once the Stamp Act came into play, they were furious. Samuel Adams, a man of modern-day historical eminence, published a press telling people to resist the Stamp Act. This publication was repealed, but not before awareness spread. This is why not only is there freedom of press, but the prohibition of prior restraint comes hand in hand.

Cartoon-In this political cartoon there is a man underwater who is with fish. These fish symbolize various forms of the press. The fish are attacking the man, a man who has been accused of a crime. This symbolizes they can do what they want.

Common-Day Application

One recent case regarding freedom of press is Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart. In this case, a State District Judge requests a restraint of the press of an article regarding a murder trial. This is because they thought it may lead to an unjust trial. And, although some people say this may violate the first amendment, others say that it is okay to restrain the press if it will lead to a fair trial.

Picture-This picture says stop terrorism against media. This basically is saying stop attacking media, or the press. The picture states that the press should have the freedom of doing what they want.

My Opinion of Significance

I believe that for the most part, this section of the first amendment is applied the way it should be. I think this is a very important amendment because let's say, for example, I hate the school I go to, and many others feel the same way. If I am not aloud to publicize this belief, than others may be forced into a contract which they will later regret. However, if I have a chance to adjust this section of the amendment, I would slightly add some restrictions to the press. It is great to express an opinion, but if a rumor gets out in the press it may take to long to contain it.

Freedom to Assemble

Historical Use

Back in England, people would be able to convene to express political grievances. However, these meetings were risky. In addition, meetings of religions other than those supported by the king or meetings regarding a dislike for the king were altogether not tolerable! However, this lead to issues because as one, we are relatively week. And, quite obviously, we could not oppose the king without meeting together as a united community. Quite simply, this section was added to the first amendment because of previous limitations of assembling.

Cartoon- In this political cartoon, authorities are attacking people who have assembled. As we have learned, this is wrong and a violation of the first amendment.

Common-Day Application

One recent court case was De Jonge v. Oregon. De Jonge was convicted for conducting a public meeting regarding the Communist Party. However, De Jonge did not do anything illegal or criminal-like. The judges ruled that these allegations were a wrong doing and violated De Jonge's freedom of speech and freedom to peaceably assemble.

Picture- In this picture, people have congregated and are showing their dislike for Obama. In many places, this would be a severe offense but in America we give people the privilege to assemble like this and voice their opinion.

My Opinion of Significance

I believe this is also a great part of the first amendment. Quite simply, it enhances the power of a person by allowing them to congregate with others. For example, If I led a riot with 100 people trying to influence others to be open to gay rights, it would be much more influential then having 10 people in the riot. I think this amendment is applied the way it should be, In my opinion, it is extremely straight forward: you either are allowed to peaceably assemble, or you are not. As a result, there is not something I would change to this amendment. I am thrilled with the way it is currently applied.

Right to Petition

Historical Use

The right to petition has been a concept around for centuries. Even the Magna Carta, a document written in the 1200s, stated that some people have the right to petition. During the 1700s the colonists felt that this right had been stripped from them, thus spurring them to make the right to petition part of the constitution, even though it was probable beforehand.

Catoon- In this political cartoon, it shows how many people petition against various actions. However, we have learned that they have a right to do so.

Common Day Application

One recent court case I find to be extremely relevant to this section of the amendment is Edwards v. South Carolina. In this case, 180 black students peacefully marched to the state capitol to petition against discrimination. The police stopped the march and arrested the students because they thought the students and onlookers may cause a riot. With an 8-1 vote, the judges deemed this unconstitutional because it restricted the students right to exercise freedom of speech, freedom to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition for redress of grievances.

Picture- In this picture, people are petitioning to stop pollution of our environment.

My Opinion of Significance

I think this is a very important part of the first amendment because it is the deciding factor between making the right to peaceably assemble useful or worthless. For example, being able to congregate to have people support gay rights is one thing, but being able to hold signs and take polls in favor of gay rights makes my statement much more influential. For the most part, I think this section of the amendment is applied the way it should be. I do, however, believe it is important not to be too emotional about your cause because it can lead to disputes and violence. But, because there is not a realistic way to avoid emotionality, there is nothing I would do to change this section of the amendment.

Amendment Number 4

Limiting Searches and Seizures


This amendment is the 4th amendment out of the 10 amendments included in the BIll of Rights. Just like many of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, it was created because the colonists did not want to emulate the actions of the king. It is a key amendment in preventing harassment when involved, for whatever reason, in a crime.

Straight from the Text

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."


This is one of the simpler amendments located in the Bill of Rights. It warrants one simple privilege. This privelege is that people and their property cannot be harassed with searches and seizures unless a warrant is issued by a judge which specifies a place being searches and a person/thing that is being seized. We will now learn about this privilege in a finer detail.

Freedom to not be Searched or Seized without Probable Cause

Historical Use

The colonial history of this amendment is quite unique. The British typically thought of the colonists as a source of revenue, and therefore tried to squeeze as much money out of them as possible. One common way the British did this was by taxing on imports and exports of the colonists. The colonists resented this, so they began to try and smuggle things in and out to avoid the taxes. Unfortunately, smuggling only lead the British to utilize writs of assistance, or very broad search warrants. These warrants were very easy to obtain and could, without a doubt, create loads of irritation. Once again, in order to avoid being like the king, the colonists created the 4th amendment.

Cartoon- In this political cartoon, the police are coming to arrest or search a guy. However, the picture explains that there are some limitations and requirements beforehand.

Common-Day Application

One recent court case was Bond v. United States. Bond was indicted for possession of methamphetamine with the intention of redistributing it against federal law.Here's the catch. Bond was on a bus which stopped at Border Patrol. The patrol searched the bus for illegal immigrants and as he exited the bus, he bumped into Bond's bag. After feeling something "brick-like", the patrol carried on to examine the contaminants of the bag. He then found the methamphetamine. In court, Bond's said that this was a violation of the fourth amendment. The judge said that it was irrelevant. As the case progressed to the Supreme Court, the judge reversed the ruling. They ruled on the statements that Bond did not have the intentions to be open to a search and had no interest in revealing the contents of his bag due to its opaqueness. Thus, they say, he was protected under the fourth amendment.

My Opinion of Significance

I think it goes without saying that this is an important amendment in order to uphold a certain amount of privacy and limit harassment. However, I believe that in a case above where it was practically accidental, Bond should have been convicted. However, I would not necessarily change this amendment for this sake without a larger extent of knowledge.