In 1787 when the constitution was first written, citizens feared that is gave the federal government excessive power. The country felt that they were at rick of losing their individual freedom. In response, the government added the Bill of Rights, first ten amendments to the constitution. The First Amendment was made to protect these crucial freedoms that included freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly. Over the years the amendment has expanded protecting more freedoms both federally and by state. The fourteenth amendment allowed for this expansion by giving the federal government full power over the states and granting equal protection to under the law to all.
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Since just about each state constitution contained similar limitations upon state power the same as those found within the First Amendment, the state courts were the principal protectors of basic liberties.
Freedom of religion supports the right of a person or group to practice their religion in public or private. It also allows the freedom to change religion or not follow one at all. Freedom of speech is the right to communicate one's ideas verbally. All though their are some limits, such as libel, slander, obscenity and incitement to commit a crime. It allows the people to freely state their opinions and thoughts. Freedom of the press, also known as freedom of the media, is the right to express written ideas through electronic media and published materials. Freedom of assembly is the rights to gather, express, promote, pursue or defend a common interest. Allowing for legal protests and boycotts. The right to petition allows the people of the United States the power to ask government to right a wrong or correct a problem. The right to sue or lobby the government is in the hands of the people.
The words of the First Amendment have not been changed since it had been ratified in 1791.Regardles of that they are still used today to help guide a society that is significantly different from the one in which the Founding Fathers lived. In this century, the First Amendment has been amplified and reinterpreted due to the government becoming involved in nearly all types of expressive activity. People in government are constantly getting involved with campaign financing, federal funding of the arts, and regulation of mass media.
“In the 20th century, the First Amendment took on greater importance when the concept of civil liberties was developed and expanded. Shocking acts, such as the burning of the American flag, inflammatory speech or controversial lyrics have challenged the concept of freedom of speech. National security has often been cited as a reason to restrict First Amendment rights. In 1971, the Nixon Administration tried to prevent the publication of Pentagon documents in The New York Times and Washington Post, which gave embarrassing details about the United Statess escalation of the Vietnam War.” (First Amendment, Let Freedom Ring) Over two hundred years after the passage of the Bill of Rights, the freedoms granted by the First Amendment are being continuously challenged and reinterpreted by not only the government but also the people
Though helpful the People still felt that the first amendment was not enough to protect their individual liberties. The lack of the amendment applying to the states was also an issue. As noted by the Cornell University Law School's website article on the First Amendment, "The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress" (Cornell University Law School nd)....