What are the principles of the 1st Amendment?

What are the principles of the 1st Amendment?

What are the principles of the 1st Amendment? Most Americans know the 1st amendment as the amendments in the bill of rights with clauses such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. The 1st amendments encourage one to believe and practice religious principles s/he wishes to do and the right to convey what s/he like. It protects lawyers’ right to publish any information he/she wishes, provide his/her service to anyone they want, and question the government, especially those they do not like. Most clauses in the 1st amendment law are controversial; however, in many cases, the uncertainty deals with how the amendment requires Americans to go in a given direction.


The first is the establishment clause which forbids the government from creating a state religion and from compelling citizens to what they should believe. However, the clause has some controversies. Some citizens consider that all religious expression must be prohibited whenever there is state involvement to fulfill the establishment clause (LII). For instance, a public school basketball team should be banned from praying at a basketball game because the institution is a government-funded school. Others argue that the government should allow religious expression on public occasions and premises, given the religious nature of Americans. Truly, in some people’s minds, prohibiting expressions of religious belief in this manner is an infringement of the free exercise clause that is part of the first amendment as it requests to control the religious expression of Americans (Revolutionary War and Beyond).

The second clause is the free exercise that restricts congress from regulating somebody’s religious observations. That is congress cannot direct citizens on how they should practice their religious faith. However, controversy may arise whereby minority religious groups seek to exercise something that is not legal or that the government has a tough interest in regulating. For instance, such behaviors as a ritual sacrifice, drug usage, and polygamy are outlawed due to public compelling interest. This signifies that this clause does not provide a free license to anyone to practice any behavior s/he claims is religious (LII).

What are the principles of the 1st Amendment?

The next is the freedom of speech clause, which restricts congress from reducing the freedom of speech. This allows Americans to express their concerns about state policies they do not like. It allows them to convey their religious faith. This clause is distorted, especially when some citizens insult others they disagree with and use hateful language. Freedom of speech goes beyond word people speak to expressions that are deployed in communicating ideas. Expressions such as wearing symbols, picketing, and flag burning are protected speech forms (Revolutionary War and Beyond).

Another significant principle is the freedom of the press clause, and this clause is believed to have played a crucial role during the revolutionary war. It helped Americans strengthen their views against England and spread concepts that justified a break with England. Historically, English had no press freedom at all. All publications were to be reviewed first by the state before publication. Government criticism was subjected to trials and charged with treason. Therefore, every American aspired to have the right to criticize their authority fearlessly and to debate other subjects whenever they wished (Revolutionary War and Beyond).

Lastly, the freedom of assembly clause goes, “congress shall make no law… abridging … the right of the people peaceably to assemble…” this clause guards the rights of Americans to associate peacefully. This right has proved to be significant. For instance, women minorities assembled and petitioned their argument as to why women received no fair treatment compared to their male counterparts (LII).

In conclusion, for Americans to enjoy their lives effectively, all the clauses mentioned above need to exist practically. However, the clauses are controversial, forcing the government to protect some rights. This call for law specialists to assist interprets some contradicting clauses.

Legal Information Institute (LII). “First Amendment: An Overview.” 2010. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.  <>

Revolutionary War and Beyond. “The 1st Amendment”. 2012. Web. 7 Dec. 2012 <>

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