Amendment 1: By Rohan Rajan

The Statement of Freedoms

The Original 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 Overall Explanation

The First Amendent is basically stating the freedoms of the people. It is saying that Congress cannot deprive people of religous practices or a certain type of religion. This amendment also give three other freedoms: the freedom of speech, press, and assembly. As the last freedom that this amendment gives, in my opinion, is the most powerful freedom given to the people. This is the right to petition the Government. It can overpower the government's decisions with an asked-for demand by many people.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech is a very simple explanation. It is basically saying that people can freely express their feelings about acts passed by the government or they can state their opinion on government officials. But, there are limits to freedom of speech. For example, laws prohibit slander and libel. Slander is false speech intended to damage someone's reputation. Libel similar to slander, except it is a written form of slander.

Over the years, many acts have violated the statements of the first amendment. Two examples would be the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and the PIPA (Protect IP Act). These acts violated the first amendment because some of the sites have information the U.S citizens want. The SOPA Act deprives the information that the U.S. citizens crave, anxiously.

There are many current uses for the first amendment. For example, it is not against the law to speak against the president of the united states. It is just that person's opinion on a government official. In an election, it is not against the law to oppose a candidate, and it is not against the law to put a candidate down by facts. But, slander is not legal. World War II is also another example. Hitler would send just the Jews to concentration camps where they could be tortured or killed. The Jews could not speak out against the Nazis, or they would be killed. That is why the first amendment would protect them.

I do think this is a very vital amendment to the constitution. People can freely express what they want about anyone, except not slander that damages someone's reputation with false information. I can support my opinion on what people think on the different politicians. Some agree with Obama and will speak out badly at Romney, and vice versa. I think that they need to express their thoughts on someone, good or bad, if they want to prove a point in life. That is my opinion of the first amendment.

Freedom of Religion

This is a very serious part of this amendment. Basically, what Freedom of Religion means is that individual citizens are allowed to bring their own religious practices into play for other people of that same religion. But, government is prohibited by the law to favor one religion more than another religion or a non-religious group.

In some schools, non-religious children feel uncomfortable in religious schools that say prayers to their "God." Engel vs Vitale was a prayer case that was very famous. The Supreme Court stated that requiring children to recite prayers written by the Board of Regents of New York was unconstitutional. Even though the prayer did not promote any specific religion, Court specifically said- "the constitutional prohibition against laws respecting an establishment of religion must at least mean that in this country it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government."- Statement of the Judges of the Supreme Court.

There are many current uses for this part of the amendment. Hindus, like me, can build their own temples for praying and can observe their religion in their eyes and beliefs with no interference of the government. Recently updated by the Supreme Court's decision, children are not forced to read the Bible in school.

In my opinion, this is an applicable amendment to me. I think that because I am a Hindu and Hindu is very polytheistic and religious. I completely agree on how the government is giving the religious groups the freedom to pray in their own churches or synagogues or temples or all sorts of places like those. I and other religious people can celebrate their specific holidays. That is my opinion of this section of the amendment.

Freedom of Press

The meaning of "Freedom of Press" is stating that a person can publish an opinion about someone or something, possibly an act of government, in a newspaper, magazine, or other printed material without government restriction.

In the 18th Century, writers such as Thomas Paine were subject to consequence for publishing unpopular opinions, opinions that were against the public. This clause of the first amendment is not only meant to protect the speech of opinions, but also the freedom to publish.

Today, many media or news channels publicly speak about what the main problems or issues with the nation are such as topics on gun control or abortion, irrelevant to the government's views. Journalists are aloud to give away information that has to do with incidents such as the trouble in the Middle East .

In my opinion, I think the Freedom of Press should be, in a way, minimized. People should know about what the country is facing and its issues. I do not think the journalists should give out the top-secret information that only the government should know. This can be supported by the fact that it is even against the law to give away top secret information, the consequences being jailed or even killed. That is my opinion the Freedom of the Press.

Freedom of Assembly

Freedom of Assembly means that people can be called to assembly and to be heard, as long as they remain nonviolent. They cannot plot against their own country in that assembly, because that would be considered treason and illegal. Other than that, government cannot restrict this by federal or state law. But there is an exception. People can hold rallies, but the government must be told so they can notify the police in case the rally goes out of hand.

In the early 1960's, young African-American citizens started many rallies to focus on the nation's biggest issues: segregation. Although the citizens leading the rallies and riots were peaceful and nonviolent, the Supreme Court said that this exercises the rights of the Constitution, but other courts voted against the decision and said that the government could not criminalize the "the peaceful expressions of unpopular views.

There are many current uses for Freedom of Assembly. The most common use for freedom of assembly is when political parties get together to discuss the issues of the nation. A current case example would be when Mitt Romney had the GOP convention where he could talk about his ideas for the country to make it stronger, to make it thrive.

In my opinion, I would say this is a very good section. The right to get together in a group to discuss is used around the world today, even for the simplest things. What I mean is that we can get together in a group and discuss the simplest things like school, such as grades or projects, etc.

Right to Petition

This basically means that individual people, either coming together forming a group or individual, can freely send criticism to the government officials. They can petition the government officials to form new rights for the people.

The colonists from England brought minds full of forms of a civil way of conducting government: democracy. They also brought a new form of assembly called The Constitutional Right of Peaceful Assembly. This means that people can gather in public to discuss government or other concerns. In 1776 to 1783, the freedoms of assembly and petition were included in several of the original state constitutions.

The Right to Petition includes the petition to sign. In January 2007, the U.S. Senate considered an S.1, an ethics reform bill. This bill contained a section to establish federal regulation.

In my eyes, this is a very important provision to this first amendment of the Constitution of the United States. This is letting the people complain to the government about the issues of the nation. The petition could even be about the government officials, and that is legal, as long it is not slander. An example could be today, where the nation is in an economic crisis. The citizens could send a petition to the government officials to demand rights to adapt to the debt we are in.




Current Use

Opinion w/Support

Rohan Rajan

American Government Period 4