Bill of Rights

The First and Second Amendments

Ben Milstein

American Government Period 3

Amendment Project



This flyer will explain two key amendments in much use today. These amendments are the first, which gives citizens the freedom of speech, assembly, religion, petitioning, and press; the other gives citizens the rights to bear arms.

Freedom of Speech, Religion, and the Press; Right to Assemble and Petition

The first amendment was adopted to the Constitution on December 15, 1791. It clearly stated people have the right to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble, and right to petition.

What It Establishes

The First Amendment establishes freedom of speech, religion, press, petition, and assembly.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech is established in the First Amendment. To me, Freedom of Speech is the political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas. Freedom of Speech came about because in England the kings never let the colonists have free speech, so the Drafters decided this right was a necessity to have in the Constitution. One court case that has happened in the past 30 years about Freedom of Speech is the Tinker case. The Tinkers wore black armbands to school in order to protest the Vietnam War, but the principal decided if they continued to wear the armbands and talked about opposing the war, they would be suspended. The Tinkers didn't budge, so they were suspended. Later, the two children's parents sued the school for their freedom of speech. To me, freedom of speech is handled very well in this country because many cases are not coming up about freedom of speech. Check out these two links below of the political cartoon that relates to the case above. Also, there is a rap about freedom of speech below that is not linked.

Freedom of Speech Rap

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of Religion is also established in the First Amendment. Freedom of Religion is the freedom or right to practice any religion a person preaches. This came about in the Bill of Rights because the king was the head of the church, and the church allowed no other religion but Catholicism, so the Drafters made sure any person could follow any religion. A case relating to this right was McGowan vs. Maryland, where McGowan challenged the state of Maryland's laws. He said Maryland's laws had religious origins so they are violating his right. Eventually, the Supreme Court held Maryland's laws. In my opinion, I have not come across anything where any person is upset at this right, so the United States must be doing a good job handling this right. Below is a political cartoon relating to freedom of religion.

Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the Press is another right in the First Amendment. Freedom of the Press is freedom of the media to communicate and express questions with people and have the right to publish answers. The Drafters made sure this was in the First Amendment because the king would not allow anything to be published that violates his rules, creating a dictatorship. An example court case of this right was in 1988 when it was Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier. In this case, Kuhlmeier said it was a violation of this right when the school censored certain parts of the school newspaper. In the end, the judge ruled public school officials are allowed to censor parts of the school newspaper because the newspapers are part of the school curriculum, not a public expression. In my opinion, Freedom of the Press is handled well in this country because I haven't seen many problems with this topic. Below is a link of a political cartoon about Press Freedom.

Right to Assemble

Freedom to Assemble does not get as much publicity as the others but it is just as important. Freedom to Assemble is the right to gather with a group of people and talk or express opinions on common interests. This came up in the First Amendment because the king did not like when the Committees of Correspondence gathered to discuss the wrong doings of the king, so the Drafters made sure that this would not be a problem in the future. In the case Edwards vs. South Carolina in 1963, a group of African-Americans gathered to discuss how they were being treated and then were told by police, who found out about the meeting, to leave in the next fifteen minutes or be arrested. When they were arrested, they sued and eventually won the case because they had not violated any law and were following the First Amendment. In my opinion, this right is also handled perfectly by the U.S. because people should have the freedom to assemble without violence.

Right to Petition

The Right to Petition is part of the First Amendment. In my words, the Right to Petition is the right to seek out the government without fear of being punished or harmed. This was once again put in the First Amendment because the king would not allow people to start riots against him or they would be charged with treason or beheaded, and this was not to be the case in the United States. One court case with petitioning is in 1980. The military base commanders' authority was upheld over military personnel trying to send a petition to Congress. To me, the right to petition is organized extremely correctly because there have not been many petitions or riots in the United States of America lately.

The Second Amendment- the Right to Bear Arms


The Second Amendment clearly establishes the right for people to bear arms. This amendment was adopted to the Constitution in 1791. It was mainly adopted for the following reasons

  • enabling people to organize the militia system
  • participating in law enforcement
  • deterring tyrannical government
  • repelling invasion
  • suppressing insurrection, including slave revolts
  • facilitating a natural right of self-defense

Right to Bear Arms

The Second Amendment means people have the right to bear arms for self-defense. This was put in the Bill of Rights because the King back in England bullied the colonists and the colonists could not do anything because they weren't permitted to bear weapons to revolt, back in England. When the Supreme Court held a case between District of Colombia vs. Heller in 2008, the Court ruled the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to bear firearms for lawful purposes or self-defense at home. In my opinion, this right is too lenient because guns or weapons have been too easy to possess by bad people with either anger issues or mental sicknesses, so I think this right should be given to strictly people with no mental issues. Check out a political cartoon below about my opinion of the Second Amendment.

Where the Bill of Rights was Created