The believed that the Bill of Rights were


First Amendment is an amendment that protects the right of speech, petition,
assembly, religion, and press. The first amendment states “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 people peaceably to assemble and to
petition the government for redress of grievances.” (

First Amendment was created in 1789, by James Madison who was also nicknamed
“the father of the Constitution.” He was the fourth president of the United
States and served from 1809-1817. Madison and Jefferson both founded the Democratic
– Republican Party from 1743-1826. Madison played a big role in the
ratification of process of the Bill of Rights. 
After the extensive debate, the U.S Constitution was signed in September
of 1787. James Madison is the person who wrote the ten amendments. Madison
believed that the Bill of Rights were necessary, because he did not think the
government would ever become too powerful to need one. But Madison did not do
it alone. Madison’s mentor, Thomas Jefferson convinced him to propose the Bill
of Rights. All the rights stated in the first amendment were all concerns of
Thomas Jefferson. (


First Amendments Establishment clause prohibits the government from making any
law “respecting an establishment of religion.” One argument regarding to The
Establishment Clause is how to manipulate the government’s actions that relate
to religion. ( The First Amendment also has a Free Exercise
Clause. This clause protects citizen’s rights to practice religion to their
will. Their right is protected, as long as their practice does not disturb
“public morals.” (

the Supreme Court Case Prince vs Massachusetts in 1944, Sarah Prince was a
mother of her two sons and had custody of her niece. The family are Jehovah Witnesses.
The children would distribute religious magazines weekly on the streets. On
December 18, 1941 Sarah Prince allowed the children to accompany her as she
distributed the magazines and attended a preaching ceremony. She later received
a conviction for violating Massachusetts child labor laws. (                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 Lemon vs Kurtzman is a Supreme Court case
which determined if a practice violates the Establishment Clause. The lemon
test was a consolidation of two different First Amendment challenges between
Rhode Island and Pennsylvania statues that provided state aid to church
schools. Both statutes provided aid in the form of salary supplements to
teachers of non-religious subjects at non-public schools. Pennsylvania further
provided aid in the form of instructional materials. (

determine if this violated the Establishment Clause, the Court gave a test
based on prior court decisions. First the statute must have a secular purpose;
second its primary effect must not inhibit religion; finally, the statue must
not foster excessive entanglement with religious schools. To make sure funds
provided were used for non-religious purposes, the court made sure there was
government monitoring. (

Free Exercise clause protects the right to believe in a religion but not act
upon the religion. Limits are placed on this clause. For example, if the
religion one chooses to practice requires human sacrifice, this is not allowed.
The first Supreme Court case that addressed the free exercise clause was
Reynolds vs U.S in 1878. In this case, the Court banned the practice of having
more than one wife or husband. For religious duty by Mormons. In this case
George Reynolds, who lived in Utah, was married to his wife Mary Ann Tuddenham,
he also married Amelia Jane Schofield. In the U.S if someone marries more than
one person, they are guilty of bigamy and will be fined maximum of $500 and
imprisonment for no more than five years. Reynolds argued that his religion
required him to marry multiple women and his case was later brought up to the
Supreme Court. “The Court concluded that people cannot excuse themselves from
the law because of their religion.” (

 In the case of Sherbet vs Verner, Ms. Sherbert
was fired from her job due to her Seventh – day Adventist which required her to
not work on Saturday’s. Ms. Sherbet could not find any other employment that
allowed her to not work on Saturdays, so she then filed for state unemployment,
but was denied. The court created the Sherbet test which asked if the state
policy imposed a burden on the claimant’s right to free exercise religion. The
test determined Ms. Sherbert was burdened in her free exercise of religion. The
Court later overturned the denial of state unemployment benefits to Ms.
Sherbert and created the possibility for people who practice religion to claim
exemptions from generally applicable laws. (

First amendment’s protection of speech also has its limits. For example, in the
Supreme Court case Schneck vs U.S after America entered World War I in 1917.
Congress passed a law called the Espionage Act. 
This law stated that during time of war, trying to make soldiers
disloyal was a crime. Charles Schneck was against the war, and mailed thousands
of pamphlets to soldiers who were in the armed forces. His pamphlet stated, “The
government had no right to send American citizens to other countries to kill
people.” Schenck was later accused of violating the Espionage Act. Scheck
argued that the Espionage Act was unconstitutional and broke the First
Amendment’s promise to a citizen’s right of speech. The case was judged in
1919. The judge’s decision was “how far a person’s freedom of speech extends
depends on the circumstance.” When a nation is at war, things said during times
of peace can be used to cause obstructions. The government has the power to
punish someone who is causing clear potential danger. (

the case Tinker vs. Des Moines, students’ rights to free speech were violated.
John and Mary Beth Tinker wore black armbands to school, to protest the Vietnam
War. The school district of Des Moines, Iowa public schools banned armbands
resulting in the suspension of many students. The case was brought up to the
Supreme Court, who decided that “the armbands were basically pure speech and
the schools action was unconstitutional.” Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision
in favor of the students. (

vs Fraser was also another case of a school district trying to limit the right
of students. Mathew Fraser a senior at Bethel high school, spoke at a student
assembly to nominate his class mate for student government. He gave a speech
which contained sexual references. Fraser was then suspended for three days.
His parents disagreed with the school’s disciplinary actions. The Supreme Court
agreed stating Fraser’s free rights of speech were violated. The Court decided
in a 7-2 ruling that “the school officials acted within the Constitution by
discipling Mathew Fraser.” (


yourself symbolically is also protected under the freedom of speech like in the
Supreme Court case Texas vs Johnson. Gregory Lee Johnson burned the American
Flag outside the convention center where the Republican National Convention was
being held. Johnson burned the flag to protest the policies of Ronald Reagan.
Johnson was arrested and charged with “desecrating a flag in violation of Texas
law.” No one was physically injured or threatened yet some said they were
offended by the flag burning. After the trial Johnson was convicted and
sentenced to one year in prison, along with a $2000 fine. The court later
realized that Johnsons actions was symbolic speech, protected under the first
amendment. ( The Supreme Court came to a 5-4 ruling, deciding
that desecration of the U.S flag was constitutionally protected and certain
individuals taking offense to certain ideas of expression does not justify
prohibition of free speech. (

first amendment also consists of the right to petition. “People have the right
to appeal the government in favor of or against polices that affect them or in
which they feel strongly.” One will only be allowed to petition as long as it
is non-violent and legal. Different forms of petitioning are: “Lobbying,
letter-writing, e-mail campaigns, testifying, filing lawsuits, supporting
referenda, collecting signatures for ballot initiatives, peaceful protest and picketing.”
The right to petition does not mean that the government will respond in a
certain way or respond at all. (

freedom of petition clause also applies to state governments, local
governments, and federal governments. Citizens can petition any branch of
government, which includes: the executive, legislative and judicial branch. Petitioning
the government can be restricted. For example, someone petitioning the
government must prove they are affected by the matter being petitioned.

 Petitioning played a big role during the Civil
War for African Americans who held boycotts and picketing. The First Congress
wanted to make sure if the people had grievances with the government, they
would be able to petition without the fear of punishment as a result. (

the government goes back as far as the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta stated, “If
we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any
respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of
this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five
barons, they shall come to us – or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief
justice—to declare it and claim immediate redress.” ( This
means, even though the power was only given to 25 barons elected by the king,
the barons still had the right to petition the kingdom if they disagreed with

the Supreme Court Case Kings Mall vs Wenk, individuals were protesting
government polices with the goal of trying to change them. May 2005 individuals
began protesting several times at Kings Mall. The individuals who were
protesting were veterans of the Armed Services, who were protesting the
government’s participation in Iraq. They chose to protest at Kings Mall because
there was a military recruitment center there ( The plaintiff is the
owner of the shopping center. Displayed at each entrance of the mall are
notices stating, “The mall is reserved only for the use of the owners and
employees of business tenants and their patrons.” Mr. Wenks protest became
aggressive and disorderly leaving the plaintiff to stop him from entering the
property. The plaintiff then proceeded with a preliminary injunction. The
Supreme Court granted the preliminary injunction allowing the defendants to
protest outside for limited amount of time Saturday afternoons. (

The Supreme Court Case Edwards vs South Carolina, a group of people came to
protest segregation in South Carolina. There was no violence, and no one made
any threats towards violence. The police arrived and told the protestors they
had limited time to vacate or they would be arrested. The protestors refused to
leave, and began singing and clapping. The police later came back and arrested
187 people. They were all convicted of a “breach of the peace.” South Carolina
argued that the law against the breach of peace applied to protest. The case
later went to the Supreme Court. The court held that South Carolina violated
the protestors First Amendment rights to freedom of expression, petition and
peaceful assembly. The Court stated, “If the petitioner had violated a law
regulating traffic, or disobeyed a law reasonably limiting the periods during
which the State House grounds were open to the public this would be a different
case.” (

freedom of press is the right to circulate opinions in print without censorship
from the government.” Americans enjoy freedom of the press under the First
Amendment to the Constitution, which states: Congress shall make no
law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” ( Print
includes magazines, newspaper, or pictures. Example of cases that freedom of press
protects are paparazzi or radio shows. Although paparazzi go to extreme
measures to get a picture, they are still protected under the freedom of press.
The newspaper has a big impact an influence on society. The newspaper can print
views and facts without being censored. But the newspaper cannot print whatever
they please, they are not allowed to print biased articles or any information
that can harm the people, state or government. The newspaper can print positive
or beneficial information or articles. (


 John peter Zenger was accused of publishing
information opposed to the government, in the Supreme Court case Crown vs John
Peter Zenger. John printed a publication called the “New York Weekly Journal.”
The publication accused the government of rigging elections and allowing the
French enemy to explore New York harbor. It also accused the governor of
several crimes. Zenger was just the printer of the article but left the author
anonymous. He was accused in 1733 of libel, but the jury later found him not
guilty and let him go. (

similar trial occurred in the case of People vs Croswell. Harry Croswell
published a story claiming President Jefferson paid James Callender, a
publisher to run negative stories against his opponents. Croswell was then
charged with criminal libel and sedition. The trial began, and the jury found
Croswell guilty. Alexander Hamilton later brought the case to the New York
Supreme Court. Hamilton argued that the “freedom of press, stating that the
right of giving the truth evidence, in case of libels, is all important to the
liberties of the people.” April 6, 1805, the New York Legislature enacted that
providing the truth was a defense to a libel charge. (

right of peaceful assembly is the “right to hold peaceful public assembly
without the government’s interference.” But the government can put restrictions
on the time, place, and manner of the assembly. ( Assemblies held may
also require permits, in some instances constitution protection may be extended
to private property. In the Supreme Court Case Marsh vs Alabama in 1946 stated
that owners and operators of a company cannot prohibit the distribution of
religious literature in business district, because such expression was
protected under the first amendment. (


the Supreme Court Case DeJonge vs Oregon, The Supreme Court That the right to
peaceful assembly was just as important as the freedom of speech and press. In
1939, Oregon enforced a “criminal syndicalism law.” This law banned advocacy of
any unlawful acts as means of effecting industrial or political change. Mr.
DeJonge was accused of assisting the organization of the meeting that was
called under the auspices of a communist party. DeJonge argued that the meeting
was public and held for lawful purposes. The meeting called was neither
unlawful or had criminal syndicalism. The U.S Supreme Court overturned the law,
and reversed DeJonge’s conviction finding that “the holding of meetings for
peaceful political action cannot be proscribed.”

vs New Hampshire was a court case that dealt with the requirement of a permit.
A New Hampshire town required that a license be obtained before a parade could
be held. A group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, held a side walk parade without
obtaining a license and were fined for violating the New Hampshire law. The
Supreme Court ruled that “although the government cannot regulate the contents of
speech.” The government is only allowed to put a time and place restriction for
the safety of others. New Hampshire was not allowed to prohibit speech but only
regulate it when it took the form of a large gathering. (

conclusion the first amendment is the first of the ten amendments written in
the Bill of Rights. This amendment is most significant out of the ten
amendments. James Madison wrote the first amendment, with the help of Thomas
Jefferson in 1789. This amendment protects our basic rights as U.S citizens. Which
states “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 people peaceably to assemble and to petition the
government for redress of grievances.” Even though we have free will to the
five basic rights of being a U.S citizen, each comes with its own limits and

freedom of religion is the right to practice any religion one chooses. The
freedom of speech is the right for citizens to express themselves publicly
without government interference. The freedom of petition is the rights for
citizens to speak on a policy or issue affecting them or they feel strongly
about to the government.  The freedom of
press is the right to circulate opinions in print without censorship from the
government. Lastly the right of peaceful assembly is the right to hold peaceful
public assembly without the government’s interference.