The First Amendment Rights

Qiting Zeng, Reporter

America has been built on freedom throughout the years. Freedom to speak, freedom to choose, freedom to worship, and freedom to do just about you want  under the law. The First Amendment gives a lot of rights to American citizens.

The freedom of speech is one of the most powerful Amendments, which gives all the American citizens rights and allows them to speak their ideas, belief and minds in public.  In the 1969 case of “Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District”, the Supreme Court recognized the right of high school students to protest the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands. In 1989 and again in 1990, the Court upheld the right of an individual to burn the American flag in public as an expression of disagreement with government policies. Other examples of protected expression include images in works of art, slogans or statements on T-shirts, “fashion statements” that incorporate symbols and/or written slogans or declarations, music lyrics and theatrical performances.

“Only the suppressed word is dangerous.”—Ludwig Börne

People burn of the U.S. flag; Nazi marches in Jewish neighborhoods; the KKK marches through black neighborhoods.

The constitution guarantees a free press, which can be extrapolated to include all news media. The Virginia Declaration of Rights was a precursor to this amendment, holding that “the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.”

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”