14 October 2014
The 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 petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (FindLaw). While studying the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it is crucial to understand the history behind writing the law.
History of the First Amendment
The First Amendment has a long history. Even before a democracy is developed, people recognize that they should have rights of speech. In 1215, the idea of equal rights is put into words when the Magna Carta is written, forcing King John of England to recognize rights for both noblemen and regular Englishmen. The document also “establishes the principle that no one, including the king or lawmaker, is above the law” (First Amendment Center). Four hundred years later, in 1628, the Petition of Right outlines many of the ideals that later lead to the American Revolution. The Massachusetts Body of Liberties, written in 1641, includes the right to petition and a statement about due process. Religious freedom is granted to Rhode Island in the Charter of Rhode Island in 1663, and in 1708, Anglicans and Baptists of Connecticut are allowed “full liberty of worship.” When a New York publisher criticizes the Royal Governor of New York, and is acquitted in 1735, the “principles that truth is a defense to libel and that a jury may determine whether a publication is defamatory or seditious” are established. Keep in mind; all of these ideas are pre-revolutionary. Nearing the American Revolution, 50 Baptists are jail...
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...e Amendment and protect intellectual and spiritual rights. It would include the rights to speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition as before, but it would also contain the right to know: The right to share information that has been willingly shared. In today’s society, information is becoming ever more important. Our world is evolving and it is important that our citizens understand how they are protected. The first amendment covers more than most realize, and it is important to recognize and protect our rights.
FindLaw. First Amendment - U.S. Constitution. 2014. Web. 13 October 2014.
First Amendment Center. First Amendment Timeline. 2014. Web. 13 October 2014.
Illinois First Amendment Center. The First Amendment in History. 2014. Web. 13 October 2014.
McBride, Alex. Landmark Cases: Schenk v. U.S. (1919). December 2006. Web. 13 October 2014.
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