The First Amendment


The Golden Rule - Do Unto Others


James Madison called the five rights in the First Amendment “the Great Rights.”

Our nation’s founders believed that every person is born with basic rights, including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.

The First Amendment to the U S. Constitution reminds us that the government does not give us these rights and the government may not take them away. The First Amendment protects our freedom of expression. We are free to think what we wish and to say what we think. Since we are protected to do this, we are able to inform others about what we think. With the free flow of ideas, others can inform us about what they think.

Because of the First Amendment, we are able to become informed citizens who can, and do, make good decisions about what is best for our great country Thanks to this amendment, we also have a way to tell the government when we are unhappy or happy about what it is doing. In other countries where ideas are controlled by the government, the people are not free to exchange thoughts and give their own opinions. They have no way peaceably to bring about a change in a government they don’t like. Because of the First Amendment, Congress does not have the right to interfere with our freedom of: religion, speech, the press, or peaceable assembly. This amendment also gives us the right to petition for or request government action.


          A “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.”


Notice that the First Amendment says that only Congress cannot take away certain freedoms or liberties. For many, many years, only the national government was prevented from taking away these rights. However the states had their own constitutions that usually protected their citizens. After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution to make sure that states could not take away the rights of any citizen. In the 20th century, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment means that the states may not violate the rights listed in the First Amendment. The 14th Amendment says, in part: “...... nor sha1l any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law” A citizen’s liberties, or personal rights, cannot be taken away by any state government


All citizens have the right to due process, or the right to be treated fairly.

Sites to see: - - Educational staff - - Charles Haynes

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