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Reflections on the First Amendment

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The forefathers of the United State of America included in the Constitution the first 10 amendments. These amendments were created to give the people certain rights. The original drafting of the Constitution mainly dealt with the governing body and what powers it controlled. The first amendment is considered to be the one that takes precedence over the others. The Bill Of Rights was included in the Constitution along with the 1st amendment.

When the American people needed something in writing to grantee their freedom James Madison wrote the 1st Amendment to the constitution. The first 10 Amendments took effect on December 10, 1971. The 1st amendment states, 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. (The United States Constitution, 2011)

The fathers of our country (The United States) put these amendments in place to protect the citizen's freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition. (First Amendment Center, 2008) The Constitution was written in such a way as to leave room for change as the country grew. Article V was written into the Constitution to give law makers the rules to the necessary changes. Article V states an amendment may be added either by two-thirds votes of the House of Representatives and Senate through Congress or by state legislature through constitutional convention. (The U.S. National Archives and Record Administration)

There are a total of 27 Amendments to the Constitution. These 27 Amendments include the original 10 known as the Bill of Rights. All the citizens 'of the United States privileges and rights are protected under these Amendments. Many citizens have gone to great lengths in the court system to fight for the rights guaranteed to them under the 1st Amendment.

Some of the most fought cases involving the first amendment: Schenck vs. United States, Brown vs. Louisiana, and Sherbert vs. Verner et al., members of South Carolina Employment Security Commission, (1963).

In the Schenck vs. United States (1919) Charles Schenck a member of the Socialist party in which he was the general secretary in the wake of World War 1. He passed out 20,000 leaflets urging Americans not to participate in the draft.

Mr. Schenck and Socialist Party believed that the draft was a form of natural slavery or servitude. While protesting he was arrested for a direct violation of the Espionage Act enacted in 1917.

On January 9th-10th, 1919, Schenck case went before the Supreme Court citing a violation of his freedom of speech.

Under the Espionage Act of 1917 it is deemed that any nature of expression that did not comply with the government's preservation and protection of the citizen of the United States was deemed criminal activity.

Upon review by the Supreme Court the evidence had to be proven that he indeed did violate the Espionage Act of 1917. After reviewing the evidence it would be determine if his freedom of speech was indeed violated.

One piece of evidence was minutes taken during a meeting of the Socialist Party in which stated that they were designed specifically for the drafted men and military. The courts upheld unanimously that his conviction would stand.

The Espionage Act of 1917 states that Congress has the right to set limits with the freedom of speech during a time of war. If a citizen uses words that pose a clear and present danger to society, the first amendment is no longer in play and political free speech is no longer protected ( Infoplease, 2007).

The case involving Schneck vs. United States has had an effect on society. The clear and present danger test in which is now known as the imminent-lawless-action test. This test allows the government the right to suppress any



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