Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting 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. - First Amendment to the Constitution
We the people of the United States are guaranteed five basic freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom to assemble, and the freedom to petition the government. These freedoms do not come without limitations. Obscenity, fighting words, defamation, child pornography, perjury, blackmail, threats, and solicitation to commit crimes serve as examples of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment.
Life in a free society has become an expectation in modern-day America,, but understanding the First Amendment is essential to preserve and protect the fundamental rights guaranteed by it, not just for ourselves, but for others and future generations.
Interpretation of this Amendment isn’t easy because of the ever-changing limitations of freedoms as our society continues to evolve to provide protection for all humans. Your constitutional lawyer may be a resource to you if you believe that your rights have been infringed upon. In this post, we’ll be exploring the rights that are guaranteed to you through the First Amendment.
Freedom of Speech
The First Amendment grants the right to share and express your rights without fear of the government limiting your speech. It is because of this right that you can peacefully share your opinions and thoughts with others despite the fact it might result in a conflict or disagreement. It should be noted that this right does not come without limitations or consequences. You are not protected from libel or slander.
As an American citizen, you have the right to exercise your speech without government interference; meaning they cannot forbid you from saying, writing, wearing, or expressing thoughts you like as long as it does not promote physical harm to others. A constitutional lawyer can help you fight against censorship and understand how the First Amendment protects your speech.
Freedom of Press
Freedom of the press is the right to gather, publish, and distribute news and opinions without the government censoring your views. Many of the same concepts that apply to freedom of speech apply to freedom of the press.
The government is unable to censor before it is written or published unless it jeopardizes national security. There have been many important cases where the right to free press has been analyzed or disputed. For example, in 1971, the United States government petition to censor the New York Times for publishing materials surrounding Vietnam War, also known as the Pentagon Papers.
Ultimately, it was ruled this publication was not a violation of National Security. In the age of social media, some question if social media threatens our rights to freedom of the press and our fighting to stop censorship on social media platforms.
Freedom of Religion
Having the ability to follow a religious or spiritual belief of your choice without the interference of the government is not always respected in other countries. This right to practice your faith without the government intervening is what some like to call separation of church and state. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the Supreme Court ruled protection from both the state and local government.
The government is unable to endorse or support a particular religion nor is able to favor another religion over another. As Americans, we are able to honor, express, and practice the religion of their choice freely and safely – as well as the right to not practice or believe in a particular religion. Because of this, the government is unable to interfere with others’ religious practices nor discriminate against a person for holding certain religious beliefs.
It’s because of this freedom why students are allowed to pray in school, but school officials are unable to make prayer mandatory in public schools. These are the types of nuances that your constitutional lawyer can help you to navigate.
Right to Assembly
We have seen the right to peaceably assemble demonstrated all throughout the history of the United States. From women’s rights to the civil rights movement Whether you are conservative, liberal, or in between, it’s your right as an American citizen to peaceably stand up for a cause you believe in.
We know that this freedom comes with limitations like the others – meaning you cannot cause danger, disorder, or a threat to public safety. Freedom of assembly has to respect others’ rights. If disrupting public order or obstructing traffic, it’s not a peaceful assembly. Constitutional lawyers understand the constitution and the laws surrounding it and are able to help you understand if your rights have been violated.
Right to Petition the Government
The freedom to petition the government allows you to disapprove of the government through nonviolent actions without fear of being reprimanded. It is because of this right in conjunction with the others that you are able to speak out against certain injustices or policies that negatively impact your life.
A constitutional lawyer can help you to find success in navigating concerns regarding these rights and their relevant protections.
If you believe that your rights have been infringed upon, the experts at Arete Law are ready to help. For more information, give us a call today at 619-693-6474.