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US Government

First Amendment

The First Amendment protects several basic freedoms in the United States including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government. It was part of the Bill of Rights that was added to the Constitution on December 15, 1791.

From the Constitution

Here is the text of the First Amendment from the Constitution:

"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."

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is the first freedom mentioned in the Bill of Rights. This shows how important it was to the Founding Fathers of the United States. Many of the people who first came to America did so in order to have religious freedom. They did not want the new government to take this freedom away.

The First Amendment allows people to believe and practice whatever religion they want. They can also choose not to follow any religion. The government can, however, regulate religious practices such as human sacrifice or illegal drug use.

Freedom of Speech

Another very important freedom to the Founding Fathers was freedom of speech. They didn't want the new government to keep people from speaking up about issues and concerns they had with the government. This freedom prevents the government from punishing people for expressing their opinions. It does not, however, protect them from repercussions they may have at work or in the public from voicing their opinions.

Freedom of the Press

This freedom allows people to publish their opinions and information without the government stopping them. This may be through any type of media including the newspaper, radio, TV, printed pamphlets, or online. There are some things that you can't publish including printing lies about people to damage their reputation (this is called defamation) or copying someone else's work (copyright law).

Right to Assemble

This freedom gives people the right to gather in groups as long as they are peaceable. The government must allow people to gather on public property. This allows people to hold protests and rallies against the government calling for changes. In some cases, the government may get involved in order to protect the safety of the citizens. Permits may be required to hold large protests, but the requirements for the permits cannot be too difficult to meet and must be required for all organizations, not just some of them.

Right to Petition the Government

The right to petition the government might not sound very important today, but it was important enough to the Founding Fathers to include in the First Amendment. They wanted a way for the people to officially bring issues to the government. This right allows individuals or special interest groups to lobby the government and to sue the government if they feel they have been wronged.

Interesting Facts about the First Amendment
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