In the beginning, our founding fathers where working on drafting a formal Constitution for our newly formed country. The representatives for some of the newly formed states, worried about the current draft of the Constitution. Many of the states and there representatives, had concerns about the wording of the current draft of the Constitution. The representatives feared if the current draft, if left as-is it would allow the government a pathway to violate individual civil rights. In addition, it could possibly promote tyranny.
The very issue they were getting away from with England’s Rule. Thus, the representatives demanded a “Bill of Rights” to be included with the Constitution to insure protection of individual citizen’s civil rights. http://archives. gov Originally, “The Bill of Rights” started with “Ten Amendments. ” This essay is going to focus attention on several U. S. Supreme Court Cases that challenged the “First Amendment. ” The “First Amendment” includes the Right to Choose Ones Religion, and does not allow the government to create any laws in respect to establishing a religion.
The “First Amendment” also includes the rights to, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Right to Assemble and Petition the Government to address Citizen’s Grievances. Here is a summary of three important and controversial “U. S. Supreme Court Cases. ” All of which posed serious challenges to the “First Amendment” to “The Bill of Rights. ” The first of the Supreme Court cases I will summarize, a landmark decision dealing with the right to “Freedom of the Press. ” The petitioner in this case was Nebraska Press Association, et al. vs. Stuart 1976. Ed A Walton Litz, et al. Vol 1: UXL 2001(pages 51-55) The petitioners’ claim was that a court order preventing the news media from reporting about a criminal trial violated the First Amendment. The respondent was Judge Hugh Stuart, et al. including Justices for the Court: Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan Jr. , Warren E. Burger (writing for the court), Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. , William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White. On October 19, 1975, Police arrested Erwin Simant and subsequently charged him with murdering six members of the Kellie family. The crime happened in the small rural farm town of Sutherland, Nebraska.
The population of this town was very small only consisting of 850 people. The county judge in the case ordered a gag order. The judge feared that all the local, state, and national coverage of the case would prevent Simant from receiving a fair trial. The day after the issue of the gag order, The Nebraska Press Association asked the court to remove it. The county court transferred the case and it ended up in Judge Hugh Stuart’s courtroom. Judge Stuart immediately issued his own gag order. Judge Stuart by issuing the gag order was trying to prevent, crucial information about the case from being reported by the press to the community.
This information included confessions the defendant made to police, notes he wrote the night of the murder and other important evidence circulated into the small community. With this a real possibility it could prevent Simant from any chance of a non-bias jury trial. The press disagreed and appealed the gag order to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The media claimed the gag order violated the First Amendment “Freedom of the Press”. After looking at the case, the Nebraska Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the gag order with a few minor changes. The media was outraged at the courts dicision and appealed to the U.
S. Supreme Court. After careful consideration of the issues of “Freedom of the Press” and Simants’ “Right to a Fair Trial” The court came to a unanimous decision. The gag order did indeed violate the First Amendment right to Freedom of the Press. Furthermore, reversing the previous two decisions in favor of the Petitioner “Nebraska Press Association, et al. ” The U. S. Supreme Court went on to say that allowing the press to report on criminal trials does not usually interfere with the defendants Sixth Amendment “Right to a Fair Trial” http://ezpltccd. edu:2048 GalejCX3457000022: U. S. Supreme Court Case number two, Branzburg vs. Hayes this case heard by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1972. The case was called Branzburg vs. Hayes 1972, Judge John P. Hayes, et al. was the responding court justice. The petitioner claimed that the, First Amendment gives news reporters a privilege protecting the confidentiality of their sources of information. Paul Branzburg a reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky authored an article in 1969, about two people making hashish from marijuana. In his article, Mr. Branzburg promised the two people that he would not reveal their names to the public.
Mr. Branzburg also wrote another article in 1971 about drug users and promised not to reveal their identities. Mr. Branzburg on both occasions he was called to testify before a Kentucky grand jury. Both times Branzburg refused to identify his sources of information. He stated the “First Amendment” gave him a privilege. He went on to say if sources stopped talking, he would not be able to report the news. The U. S. Supreme Court made their decision on this case on June 29, 1972. The court justices included Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E Burger, Lewis F. Powell Jr. , William H. Rehnquist, and Byron R. White. Ed. A Walton Litz, et al. Vol. 1 pages 46-50 The decision in this case was very controversial; it stated that the “First Amendment” does not give news reporters a privilege to keep their sources secret from the government. The significance of this case, made all news reporters share information about criminal activity with grand jury investigations just like every other citizen. U. S. Supreme Court Case number three was Engel vs. Vitale 370 U. S. 421 1962. The petitioners were the parents of ten pupils in the New York public school district.
The parents argued that the prayer mandated by the school was contrary to the beliefs, religions, or religious practices of both themselves and their children. These parents challenged the constitutionality of both the state law authorizing the School District to direct the use of prayer in public schools, and the School District ordering the citation of this prayer by the students. The parents argued this was a violation of the part of the Constitution that stated the, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. Page 370 U. S. 423/http://oyez. rg/cases/1960-1969 The decision in the case was six votes to one ruling in favor of the parents and taking the prayer out of public school ceremonies. Even though the prayer was nondenominational and was voluntary. It still did not save it from being unconstitutional. The court ruled by providing the prayer, New York officially approved religion. This was the first of many cases that has taken religious activities of all kinds out of public schools. Let me bring us to the present time with one last United States Federal Court Case that challenged the “First Amendment” in 2010.
This case was filed with a federal court after, Tarrant County College blocked a request to stage an empty-holster protest by students Clayton Smith and John Schwertz Jr. last November on the TCC Northeast Campus. (Hanna) (The Oyez Project) (Engle v. Vitale, 1962) The protest was in favor of a change in state law that would allow students that have a concealed gun license to carry their guns on school property. The two students with the help of the “American Civil Liberties Union” filed the suit against Tarrant County College District.
The lawsuit and trial instead of a gun rights issue became a freedom of speech issue instead. The U. S. District Judge Terry R. Means permanently enjoined, TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley and the college from blocking empty-holster protests on campus. This also included protest in the classroom. The college looked at this protest as a “Safety Issue and the students looked at the protest as a “Freedom of Speech” issue. The court ruled in favor of the students, but I can see more issues of campus safety arising from these types of protest.
I think college should be a place that students can explore the ideas from which our founding fathers based our Constitution. The college should keep an open door policy to its students, and be reasonable when reviewing student protest request. I believe with the tremendous increase of violence against students and teachers on school campuses. This issue will spike more debate on individual freedoms, rights to protect one self and the right to bear arms. I can see more bills and local laws coming to the vote on concealed guns, and challenges of individual citizen’s right to carry a weapon on school campuses.
The U. S. Supreme Court will have problems with retaining citizen individual rights while ruling on these types of cases.
http://ezpltccd. edu:2048/ic/uhic/CaseOverviewDetailsPage/CaseOverviewDetailsWindow? displayGroupName=Case-GaleDocumentNumber: GalejCX3457000022. “Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart 1976” Supreme Court Drama: Cases That Changed America. Ed A Walton Litz, et al. Vol 1: Freedom of Assembly & Association/Freedom of the Press/ Freedom of Religion/Freedom of Speech/ Right to Privacy. Gale US History in Context.
Detroit: UXL 2001(pages 51-55) http://archives. gov The Oyez Project, Engel v. Vitale, 370 U. S. 421 (1962) available at (http://pyez. org/cases/1960-1969/1961/1961_468) (Last visited Sunday, February 13, 2011http://www. star-telegram. com/2010/03/15/2042084/tcc-violated-students-rights-in. html#ixzz1ETucIMdx “Branzburg v. Hayes 1972. ” Supreme Court Drama: Cases That Changed America. Ed. A Walton Litz, et al. Vol. 1: Freedom of Assembly & Association/ Freedom of the Press/ Freedom of Religion/Freedom of Speech/ Right to Privacy.
Detroit: UXL, 2001, 46-50. Gale U. S. History In Context. Web. 13 Feb. 2011 Document URL http://ezp. tccd. edu:2048. ic/uhic/CaseOverviewDetailsPage/CaseOverviewDetailsWindow? displayGroupName=Case- Overview&prodld=UHIC&action=e&windowstate=normal&catld=&documentld=GALE% 7CCX3457000021&mode=view&userGroupName=txshracd2560&jsid=5dc21de9f3f4b10dbc8c036aeef5b928 Gale Document Number: GALECX3457000021 BILL HANNA [email protected] com http://www. star-telegram. com/2010/03/15/2042084/tcc-violated-students-rights-in. html
Cite this U. S. Bill of Rights “First Amendment”
U. S. Bill of Rights “First Amendment”. (2017, Feb 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/u-s-bill-of-rights-first-amendment/