The United States Constitution was originally drafted in 1787 and this did not contain the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was ratified December 15, 1791 (McClenaghan 71). At that time, George Mason and others argued that it should not be included (Bender 27). James Madison believed that adding a bill of rights could give the government powers to take away people’s private rights (Madison 44). He stated that wherever power gives people the right to do something wrong, wrong doings will be done (Madison 44). Madison also felt that a bill of rights would give power to the new government to provide security which did not exist with the State Governments (Madison 44). Thomas Jefferson argued that even a bill of rights that only partially works is better than not having one (Jefferson 47). He felt that the judicial branch would get too much power and would enforce restrictions on government actions as well as individual’s actions (Jefferson 47). There was a fear that without proper construction, the Constitution would tell us what we can not do, instead of protecting all of our rights (Schroeder 70). Since that time, many of the amendments have been challenged. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is heavily debated as being unconstitutional.
One challenge of the First Amendment always concerns freedom of religion. Justice Felix Frankfurter, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1939 and who was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, believed that laws limiting, or promoting religion may be allowed because he argued that freedom of religion is not an absolute (Frankfurter 119). Thurmond stated that the First Amendment was only supposed to restrict the government from establishing a specific, required denomination (Thurmond 150). Thurmond interpreted past history, stating that our forefathers only wanted to make sure that church and state did not mix, and did not want the document to rule God out of our Nation completely (Thurmond 154). Thurmond inferred that the Constitution only restricts Congress from establishing a specific religion, not the state (Thurmond 152).
Another issue that follows the separation of church and state is prayer within public schools. Thurmond stated that by denying children to recite a school prayer is denying them the privilege of sharing our Nation’s spiritual heritage (Thurmond 153). Black argued that the school’s establishment of prayer in class violates the Bill of Rights (Black, “School” 144). Prayers in public schools go against the Constitution’s separation of church and state (Black, “First” 145).
Another major part of the First Amendment covers our right to free speech. Free speech is a bond that keeps the Nation together and helps it grow stronger (Douglas 192). Brandeis makes a statement saying that free speech is a necessary good to the public (Brandeis 100). People need to say what is on their minds; public speeches is a political duty strongly upheld (Brandeis...