The First Amendment guarantees the residents of the United States certain fundamental rights. Without it, many of the freedoms that Americans in the country enjoy would be under serious threats. It’s worth noting that the term actually refers to the first adjustments that were made to the American constitution. Initially, the constitution, which was written in 1787, never stipulated the rights that would come later. At the time, the overriding belief was that the rights, which would be added in 1791 as part of the amendment, were not necessary.
What five rights does the First Amendment guarantee?
Freedom of Religion
Typically, the First Amendment refers to the inclusion or addition of the Bill of Rights to the American constitution. Interestingly, one of the first freedoms the Bill of Rights mentions is that of religion. Looking at the US today, you would be tempted to believe that it has always allowed people the freedom to practice whatever kind of religion they deem fit. However, that is not the case. In the beginning, especially when the constitution was written, those who wrote this wonderful document omitted it.
Today, however, Americans are free to practice any religion they want. They have the First Amendment to thank for that. The Freedom of Religion is something the country’s founding fathers considered essential for the wellbeing of the whole nation. It’s worth remembering that most of the first arrivals in the country were people escaping their original lands to enjoy worshipping in the US. They never wanted the government to deny them this right; hence, the need for enshrining it in the constitution.
Freedom of Speech
The country’s founding fathers equally considered the freedom of speech worth including in the Bill of Rights. They believed it would be wrong to allow the government the freedom to stop people from speaking up over any issue. It is little wonder that Americans are some of the most liberal people regarding what they can say to each other, or to the government and any other institution. Furthermore, through the First Amendment prohibits Congress from establishing any law that seeks to suppress this right.
Today, the government of the United States is unable to punish Americans for saying whatever they hold dear to their hearts. The judiciary works to ensure that the rights of the people on this matter remain sacrosanct at all times. Nevertheless, this freedom does not make people immune from facing the consequences of their actions. The expectation is that Americans will use it responsibly. Over the years, it’s worth mentioning that the US Supreme Court has handled many matters requiring its interpretation of this freedom.
Freedom of the Press
In the United States, the Press (media) has always played a crucial role in holding the government, its institutions, and the people accountable for their actions or lack thereof. For this reason, the constitution protects the rights of the Press. What this means is you are free to publish your opinion on any platform without having to worry about the government stopping you. However, you are not immune from facing consequences for your actions though. On top of that, this right gives you the freedom to publish your thoughts on the following:
- Printed pamphlets
- Online, which includes social media
Right to Assembly
As long as you – or your group – remain peaceable, the First Amendment protects your right to assemble anywhere in the United States. Furthermore, this freedom ensures that the government will never stop anyone contemplating gathering alone or in the company of other people on public property. Through this freedom, Americans can meet anywhere to agitate for the changes they need from their government. Also, the government has to protect you through the police or any of its security forces.
Right to Petition the Government
Lastly, the First Amendment gives all Americans the right to petition their government. Today, that might not look as important as it was back when the amendment was made. However, the founding fathers envisaged this freedom as a way for people to present their most pressing issues to the government without worrying about being victimized or punished for taking such measures. What is more, it also protects your right to sue the government courtesy if you feel wronged in any way.