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. ” — Amendment One, Bill of Rights, United States Constitution Perhaps the most well known of all the amendments to the Constitution, the First Amendment contains many of the fundamental freedoms that American citizens hold to be self-evident truths.
The Framers of the Constitution, coming from a background of monarchial tyranny, had a desire for democracy and openness, seeking to create a new system. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “A democracy cannot be both ignorant and free. ” Using their experiences with Britain as a guide, the founding fathers wrote the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is made up of the first ten amendments to the U. S. Constitution, containing procedural and substantive guarantees of individual liberties and limits upon the newly establish federal government.
The First Amendment has endured more than 200 years, serving as a testament to its importance and role in America’s democracy. Though the Supreme Court has established that the First Amendment is not absolute, there are very few instances in American history that the First Amendment has been set aside. It should be noted that the five freedoms listed in the First Amendment is not a luxury of democracy, but rather, a necessity. In order for a democratic form of government to function and continue to exist, it must have free expression.
This amendment protects citizens from the government by protecting their rights to free speech, press, assembly, religion, and petition. In this way, the voice of the people can be heard and the government cannot unfairly prosecute individuals for expressing their opinions. Over the years, the First Amendment not only encompassed the national government, but it was incorporated into the state governments as well. This is known as the incorporation doctrine; the incorporation of the Bill of Rights to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The freedom of speech was first incorporated to the states by the court case Gitlow v. New York. This case overruled Barron v. Baltimore, a previous court decision stating that the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government. Mr. Benjamin Gitlow was prosecuted by the New York government for the distribution of anti-government pamphlets. He filed this case as a breach of his First Amendment freedom of speech. This amendment is important to me because it defines what democracy is to me.
As one of the fundamental principles in a democratic system, the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment are truths that I hold to be self-evident and unalienable rights. It is easy for me to take for granted that I can speak freely and practice my religion without fear of government prosecution. I believe that the rights guaranteed to citizens in the First Amendment define the democracy that we have established here in the United States of America.
Cite this The 1st Amendment; the Bill of Rights
The 1st Amendment; the Bill of Rights. (2016, Dec 19). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-1st-amendment-the-bill-of-rights/