preview

Freedom And The Constitution

Satisfactory Essays
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. Freedom of expression is made up of the explicit rights of freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied right of association and belief contained in the First Amendment. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government although it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments. Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the "separation of church and state. Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of "blue laws" is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a persons practice of their religion. The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right of freedom of speech allows an individual to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech if it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. The right of free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicates a message. Despite popular misunderstanding the right of freedom of the press guaranteed by the first amendment is not very different from the right of freedom of speech. It allows an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination. It is part of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. It does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general. The right to assemble allows people to gather for peaceful and lawful purposes.