Rights Granted By The First Amendment

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First Amendment To The United States Constitution

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The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws that regulate an establishment of religion, or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights was proposed to assuage Anti-Federalist opposition to Constitutional ratification. Initially, the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress, and many of its provisions were interpreted more narrowly than they are today. Beginning with Gitlow v. New York , the Supreme Court applied the First Amendment to statesa process known as incorporationthrough the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Free Press Clause protects publication of information and opinions, and applies to a wide variety of media. In Near v. Minnesota and New York Times v. United States , the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected against prior restraintpre-publication censorshipin almost all cases. The Petition Clause protects the right to petition all branches and agencies of government for action. In addition to the right of assembly guaranteed by this clause, the Court has also ruled that the amendment implicitly protects freedom of association.

What Rights Are Granted In The First Amendment To The Us Constitution

1) Freedom of religion 2) Freedom of the press 3) Freedom of speech 4) Peacefully Assemble 5) Petition the Government for Redress

6) Taxation of the Press

The above rights are technically not granted by the First Amendment. If you look closely you will not find the word “grant” anywhere in the First Amendment. You will however find the terms “shall make no”, “prohibiting”, and “abridging”. All of these restrictive terms are directed at the government. The First Amendment amounts to restrictions that are placed on the government, not the granting of any rights.

The reason that the First Amendment doesn’t grant any rights is because all our rights belong to us and we have had our rights from the moment of our birth. Remember the “endowed by their Creator” part of the ? What Jefferson was saying there is that each man is the possessor of their rights and they are not granted by any king or potentate.

Thus the question becomes, what rights may the government restrict or even deny? The First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights places restrictions on the government in regards to the certain enumerated rights that we already possess.

The Right To Ban Books At School

If offended parents had their way, high school libraries would be free of such “filth” as “The Great Gatsby,””Ulysses” and the “Harry Potter” series .

Throughout the 20th century, individual students, outside groups, and most often, parents have sought to ban or remove certain books from public school libraries. In case after case, the Supreme Court has defended a student’s First Amendment right to read and receive information.

In a landmark 1982 Supreme Court case, the justices ruled that a local New York board of education violated its students’ constitutional rights by removing nine books identified by a conservative organization as “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy” .

School officials cannot restrict access to books just because they disagree with the content and ideas found in them. Sexually explicit material and offensive language are the top reasons for challenging books, but those reasons alone haven’t held up in court. The only justifiable reason cited by the Supreme Court for removing a book from a public school libraries is if it qualifies as “pervasively vulgar” . “Harry Potter” should be safe for now.

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State Of The First Amendment Survey Finds Broader Awareness Of First Amendment Freedoms But 29% Think It Goes Too Far

Infographic: 2019 State of the First Amendment Survey findings

The First Amendment Center of the Freedom Forum Institute announced the results of its annual State of the First Amendment survey, which discovered that the public has generally become more knowledgeable about rights under the First Amendment over the past year. Seventy-one percent of respondents were able to correctly name at least one First Amendment right, nearly a 20 percent increase compared to 2018 survey results. The survey has been published since 1997 and was conducted in partnership with Fors Marsh Group, an applied research company. Each year, this survey reveals Americans changing attitudes toward the essential five freedoms of the First Amendment religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Review the complete survey here.

Despite broader public awareness, many misconceptions surrounding the First Amendment remain prevalent today. Sixteen percent of those surveyed said that the right to bear arms was guaranteed by the First Amendment, up from 9 percent in 2018, while two-thirds agreed that social media companies violate users First Amendment rights when they ban users based on objectionable content they post.

Additionally, many support the First Amendment rights of student journalists as well as the larger media industry. Two-thirds of respondents agreed that public school students do not need approval from school authorities to report on controversial issues in their school newspapers.

The Bill Of Rights To The Us Constitution

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First Amendment

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 petitition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Fourth Amendment

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, adn the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment

Sixth Amendment

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation to be confronted with the witnesses against him to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

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Memoirs Of Convicted Criminals

In some states, there are Son of Sam laws prohibiting convicted criminals from publishing memoirs for profit. These laws were a response to offers to David Berkowitz to write memoirs about the murders he committed. The Supreme Court struck down a law of this type in New York as a violation of the First Amendment in the case Simon & Schuster v. Crime Victims Board . That statute did not prohibit publication of a memoir by a convicted criminal. Instead, it provided that all profits from the book were to be put in escrow for a time. The interest from the escrow account was used to fund the New York State Crime Victims Boardan organization that pays the medical and related bills of victims of crime. Similar laws in other states remain unchallenged.

The Right For Teachers To Pray With Students

Not that long ago, public schoolchildren across America of all religious backgrounds began their day with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. It wasn’t until a pair of landmark Supreme Court decisions in 1962 and 1963 that state-sponsored, mandatory school prayer was deemed a violation of the First Amendment’s “establishment clause” forbidding the establishment of a state religion .

But the First Amendment is tricky. The same sentence that outlaws the establishment of a national religion protects the rights of individuals to express and live according to their own religious convictions. Students are free to pray in school, form Bible study groups and openly discuss religious views in the classroom, as long as the religious messages come from the student, not the public institution.

This puts public school teachers in a constitutionally precarious position. Public school teachers are individuals with the right to freely practice their religion. But public school teachers are also considered “representatives of the state” by the U.S. Department of Education. Teachers are free to pray individually before, during and after school, and even form a lunchtime Bible study group with other teachers, but they are prohibited from endorsing or participating in religious activities directly with students during the school day . That includes praying with students or joining student-run religious groups in anything other than a monitoring role .

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The Right To Dress Funny

Fashion is a wonderful example of free expression. Although the First Amendment doesn’t mention “freedom of expression” by name, the courts often lumps together the freedoms of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition as forms of expression . So if you’re free to express yourself through your clothes, what about clothing that’s offensive, revealing or nonexistent?

Here again, our First Amendment freedoms are limited by location. The Supreme Court has ruled that private property owners can kick people off the premises for wearing an offensive T-shirt or no shirt at all . For instance, a restaurant is within its rights to put up a sign saying, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.” Similarly, individual states and cities can set their own public nudity and decency laws that dictate what people can legally wear or not wear in public.

In a 1991 case, the Supreme Court affirmed that states also have the right to restrict nude dancing in adult clubs. The justices ruled that public nudity laws apply even during private shows. It’s not a restriction of the freedom of expression, justices concluded, because the dancers are still free to express themselves erotically wearing a “scant amount of clothing” .

Press Freedom Around The World

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Here in America, we’re privileged to have what is probably the freest press in the world, as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Most of the rest of the world isn’t so lucky. Indeed, if you close your eyes, spin a globe and plop your finger down onto a random spot, chances are that if you don’t land in the ocean, you’ll be pointing to a country with press restrictions of some kind.

China, the world’s most populous country, maintains an iron grip on its news media. Russia, the largest country geographically, does much the same. Around the globe, there are entire regionsthe Middle East is but one examplein which press freedom is severely curtailed or virtually non-existent. In fact, it’s easierand quickerto compile a list of regions where the press truly is free.

Such a list would include the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan and a handful of countries in South America. In the U.S. and many industrialized nations, the press enjoys a great deal of freedom to report critically and objectively on the important issues of the day. In much of the world, press freedom is either limited or virtually nonexistent. Freedom House offers maps and charts to show where the press is free, where it’s not, and where press freedoms are limited.

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What Rights Are Guaranteed By The First Amendment

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protectsthe right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression fromgovernment interference. See U.S. Const. amend. I. Freedom ofexpression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press,assembly and to petition the government for a redress ofgrievances, and the implied rights of association and belief.> Religious freedom > Free speech > Right to assembly> Right to a petition > Right to the press

Freedom Of Speech Does Not Include The Right:

  • To incite imminent lawless action.Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 .
  • To make or distribute obscene materials.Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 .
  • To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest.United States v. OBrien, 391 U.S. 367 .
  • To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 .
  • Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 .
  • Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.Morse v. Frederick, __ U.S. __ .

Disclaimer: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for use in educational activities only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on legislation.

DISCLAIMER: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for educational purposes only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on any pending case or legislation.

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The First Amendment Censorship And Private Companies: What Does Free Speech Really Mean

The First Amendment Defined

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects what are commonly known as The Five Freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition. The amendment is part of ten amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights, which was adopted in 1791. The First Amendment Reads:

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.

This amendment gives Americans the right to express themselves verbally and through publication without government interference. It also prevents the government from establishing a state religion, and from favoring one religion over others. And finally, it protects Americans rights to gather in groups for social, economic, political, or religious purposes sign petitions and even file a lawsuit against the government.

Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech

Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are closely related, and are often the subject of court cases and popular news. Understanding how and when these rights are protected by the First Amendment can help us better understand current events and court decisions.

Censorship Defined

Freedom Of Speech And Of The Press

When Are First Amendment Exceptions Justified?

The First Amendment broadly protects the rights of free speech and free press. Free speech means the free and public expression of opinions without censorship, interference, or restraint by the government. The term “freedom of speech” embedded in the First Amendment encompasses the decision what to say as well as what not to say. Free press means the right of individuals to express themselves through publication and dissemination of information, ideas, and opinions without interference, constraint, or prosecution by the government. In Murdock v. Pennsylvania , the Supreme Court stated that “Freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion are in a preferred position.”. The Court added that a community may not suppress, or the state tax, the dissemination of views because they are unpopular, annoying, or distasteful. That would be a complete repudiation of the philosophy of the Bill of Rights, according to the Court. In Stanley v. Georgia , the Supreme Court stated that the First Amendment protects the right to receive information and ideas, regardless of their social worth, and to be generally free from governmental intrusions into one’s privacy and control of one’s own thoughts.

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Free Exercise Of Religion Clause

The Free Exercise clause grants citizens the right to accept and practice any religious belief, and attend the houses of worship, of their choice. It also protects actions made on behalf of those beliefs unless those actions harm others. The clause also prohibits the government from making laws that specifically target religious groups or practices. One example is Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 . In this case, the Supreme Court held that states could force inoculation of children, even if it contradicted religious beliefs.

The First And Second Amendments

The First Amendment is widely considered to be the most important part of the Bill of Rights. It protects the fundamental rights of consciencethe freedom to believe and express different ideasin a variety of ways. Under the First Amendment, Americans have both the right to exercise their religion as well as to be free from government coercion to support religion. In addition, freedoms of speech, press, and petition make democratic self-government possible by promoting the open exchange of information and ideas. Unpopular ideas are especially protected by the First Amendment because popular ideas already have support among the people. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, freedom for the thought that we hate is important to the discovery of truth, because sometimes viewpoints change. According to Holmes, the way to oppose thoughts with which we disagree is not to ban them, but to speak up for what we believe. In this way, truth has an opportunity to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

While the Supreme Court has decided that the Second Amendment guarantees an individualright to bear arms, the Court has also conceded that there aresome instances in which thegovernment does have the right to regulate the sale and use of arms.

– Richard Beeman, The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution


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