1st Amendment - U.S. Constitution Page

1st Amendment - Freedom of Speech, Religion & Press

1st AmendmentOriginal Bill of Rights proposed by the Continental Congress in 1789By: National Archives

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  • What should happen if someone threatens to kill you on social media? Are they protected by the First Amendment right guaranteeing the right to freedom of speech, or are they breaking the law? We will soon know now the answer after the Supreme Court rules on a case that may have far reaching ramifications well beyond the single case they are hearing.
  • On Tuesday Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on what has become to be known as "The Hobby Lobby" case. I may be accused of being too hyperbolic, but I believe this case has the potential to redefine the concept of religious freedom for years to come.
  • The Saint Patrick's Day parade is a big deal in New York City. The parade has been running annually each and every year, dating all the way back to the early days of 1762. Every year on March 17th, the city holds the parade that has come to expect an audience of roughly a million spectators and a few hundred thousand participants. Also of note, the parade is privately run.
Related Member Blog Articles
  • When the Senate Intelligence Committee passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act by a vote of 14 to 1, committee chairman Senator Richard Burr argued that it successfully balanced security and privacy.
  • Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the "Safe Carry Protection Act" into state law on 4/23/2014. This law is being dubbed the "guns everywhere" bill by its critics. Here are the in's and out's of this incredibly controversial law, that goes into effect on July 1st.
1st Amendment Text
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.
  • The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a Ten Commandments monument placed on State Capitol grounds must be removed because the Oklahoma Constitution bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion. The 6-foot-tall (1.8-meter) stone monument, paid for with private money and supported by lawmakers in the socially conservative state, was installed in 2012, prompting complaints that it violated the U.S. Constitution's provisions against government establishment of religion, as well as local laws.
  • On Tuesday Public Policy Polling released a survey measuring Republicans’ attitudes toward the upcoming presidential election. The survey assessed Republicans’ opinions of various candidates and political figures, along with their positions on a few policy issues. One of the more curious policy questions presented to respondents was whether or not Christianity should be established as America’s “national religion.” A 57 percent majority of Republicans surveyed agreed that Christianity should, in fact, be established as the United States’ national religion. Broken down into different subsets, the numbers differed somewhat. Younger Republicans in the 18 – 45 age group were more favorable to the idea, with 63 percent of that cohort affirming that Christianity should be our national faith.
  • New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on Thursday unveiled a new militarized police unit that will be trained and armed with heavy protective gear, long rifles, and machine guns to restrain terrorists and social justice protesters. Bratton explained the purpose of the unit, which will consist of 350 officers, to CBS New York: "It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris." Bratton's explanation says a lot about how the NYPD views protests over racial disparities in police use of force, which largely began in response to the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City.
  • Around 2 a.m. on December 12, four students approached the apartment of Omar Mahmood, a Muslim student at the University of Michigan, who had recently published a column in a school newspaper about his perspective as a minority on campus. The students, who were recorded on a building surveillance camera wearing baggy hooded sweatshirts to hide their identity, littered Mahmood’s doorway with copies of his column, scrawled with messages like “You scum embarrass us,” “Shut the fuck up,” and “DO YOU EVEN GO HERE?! LEAVE!!” They posted a picture of a demon and splattered eggs. This might appear to be the sort of episode that would stoke the moral conscience of students on a progressive campus like Ann Arbor, and it was quickly agreed that an act of biased intimidation had taken place.
  • Boy, the St. Louis police really know how to cool things down, don’t they? They’ve taken a controversial protest by a handful of football players, and mixed it with a whiff of bullying authority and a profound misunderstanding of the First Amendment, to create a bigger and more heated argument than it had to be. Sound familiar?
  • Not long ago, a dissatisfied reader emailed that he had enough guns to stop people like me. I emailed back to ask whether he was threatening me. The reply: “I'm not stupid enough to telegraph genuine ill intent.” On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear a case involving the question of when a seemingly threatening communication (this one on Facebook, not email) can be a crime. Let’s clear up some confusion, shared by my correspondent above, about what threats are and why they can be punished.
  • Justice Elena Kagan argued Monday that the Supreme Court went "far astray" from constitutional principles when narrowly ruling that a New York town may begin its public meetings with a prayer that tends to be Christian. In her dissenting opinion against the 5-4 ruling, the Obama-appointed justice accused the court's conservatives of "blindness" to the secularism principles at stake, particularly the rights of religious minorities.
  • Today, the Supreme Court ruled that local city councils can start their meetings with prayers, even if those prayers are predominantly those of one particular faith. Anyone familiar with previous rulings in similar cases wouldn’t have been surprised at the ruling, nor the fact that it was a 5-4 decision, with the Court’s conservatives in the majority and its liberals in the minority.

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