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Analysis Of The 1st And 2nd Amendments

1143 words - 5 pages

Among the most quoted and reviewed amendments in the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights are the 1st and 2nd Amendments. Many Supreme Court cases have involved these amendments and it's obvious how relevant they are to our government and to our individual citizens, even after more than 200 years. These amendments practically define not only our Constitution, but us as a nation, and the freedoms offered therein.The 1st amendment gives us freedoms of speech, religion, press, and the right of people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. This means that everyone in this country has the opportunity to speak their mind and air their views, whether political or otherwise. This does not apply if the words or actions present "a clear and present danger". That is, the dialogue or activity must not incite crime, breach of peace, sedition, or be obscene. By the 1st Amendment, people are also guaranteed the right to practice -or not- the religion of their choice. In no way can the government restrict or impose religious beliefs on anyone.Many people think reporters are protected from having to reveal their sources by the 1st amendment. This isn't always the case. In 2005, reporter Judith Miller was jailed for 85 days for refusing to disclose details of her conversation with Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, then Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff. She eventually was forced to testify in court. A United States District judge ruled Miller in contempt for refusing to provide evidence to a Grand Jury on who leaked the name of a CIA agent. In the U.S. naming a CIA official is a crime. She was stuck. This case shows the fragility of reporters' assumptions that they can protect the identities of their sources. Despite repeated efforts, Congress has not enacted a law recognizing reporters' privilege, although some states do have 'shield laws'.Another hot 1st Amendment topic is separation of church and state. Whether to teach Creationism has been one issue in recent times. A Louisiana law entitled the "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution in Public School Act" prohibited teaching the theory of evolution in public schools unless it was accompanied by the teaching of creation 'science', a Biblical belief that advanced forms of life appeared suddenly on Earth. Schools weren't forced to teach creationism, but if either creationism or evolution were to be introduced, so must the other. In Edwards v. Aguillard(1987) the Supreme Court ruled that teaching Creationism in public schools violated the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment. This clause states that there is a constitutional division between church and state. Since Creationism is religious in nature, it is, and should be prohibited from any place in the public school system. Furthermore, even if it were constitutional, how many religions would have to be included in the curriculum? Christianity isn't the only game in town, after all. This is 2009, not 1709, and...

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