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The US Constitution: First Amendment Paper


The ancestors ratified the first amendment of the US constitution in 1791, which formed the basis of the Bill of Rights. It is imperative to assert that this amendment contains five provisions, which include a choice of vocalization, press, and religion.

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Other provisions include the rights to petition, as well as assembly. The first amendment is critical since it shields some of the significant, fundamental human rights, as well as reflecting on concerns, which the government may ignore (Patterson, 2009). All these rights have limitations, thus prompting the Supreme Court to take primacy in passing the verdicts. Some of these cases relate to the five stipulations of amendment one. The distinguished cases include ‘Edward against South Carolina of 1963’ and ‘Hazelwood School District against Kuhlmeier of 1988’. The former case encompasses the detainment of nonviolent protesters for unlawful conduct. The latter is about the liberty of expression in schools.

The case of Edwards against South Carolina occurred in 1963 when an assemblage of 187 Negros scholars gathered to express peacefully. This owed to the fact that they felt upset by the laws of South Carolina, which purportedly forbidden their privileges. This group of lobbyists assembled at the spot of State administration and conveyed their accusations to the nationals, as well as other lawmaking bodies. It is important to assert that the police gave them an ultimatum to scatter in 15 minutes, and failure to which could lead to their capture (Eastland, 2000). The group failed to comply with the police orders and instead resonated partisan and spiritual songs with their organizer conveying a religious sermonize.

It is remarkable that the group did not present any intimidation or breach of the peace as per the crowd that was watching them. However, the police detained and condemned them of the common decree of violation of tranquility. The Supreme Court, however, declared that South Carolina disregarded the protestors’ civil liberties speech, assemblage, as well as free will to petition for redress of injustices. The Court further asserted that amendment one warrants such rights; consequently, amendment 14 offers fortification from overrunning by the states.

Another case is between the school principal and the student staff about the removal of some pages from the school newspaper containing issues of adolescent pregnancy and marriage annulment. The students lobbied that the principal breached their first amendment privileges. However, the school head safeguarded himself, affirming that he was shielding the confidentiality of the expectant and immature students from improper reference to sexual action and birth management (Eastland, 2000).

The Supreme Court asserted that the principal did not defy students’ freedoms. It avowed that the school should not stomach student vocalizations, which is not consistent with its edifying missions. Nevertheless, the government would not repress a similar case outside an education institution. Furthermore, the Court discovered that the newspaper was a habitual journalism program and was liable to faculty scrutiny. The school, therefore, did not craft a civic medium for the expression of thoughts but instead upheld the newspaper was for the learners. Instructors do not affront the First Amendment by applying editorial directions over the manner and composition of student dialogue in school-supported communicative undertakings, providing their activities to be rationally connected to justifiable pedagogical apprehensions.

In addition, the Supreme Court sturdily proposed that overseen student actions that may reasonably be exemplified as part of the school syllabus, including school-based periodicals and dramatic productions, were liable to the power of educators. The Court warned, nonetheless, that this influence does not validate an educator’s endeavor to shut up a student’s private expression that occurs on the school premises (Eastland, 2000).

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Evaluation of Rights and Responsibilities of the Constitution

The constitution offers several rights, contained in the BOR, which the citizens enjoy; furthermore, they have to be responsible for their own doings. The five freedoms in the first amendment have not been changed since their inception in 1791, yet society is completely dissimilar from the one founding fathers existed. In the current century, the federal has become engrossed in every precinct of expressive action. It is not easy to clearly state where the five liberties apply.

This is factual since there has been infringement arising from court edicts, executive guidelines, legislation, as well as nongovernmental parties (Patterson, 2009). For instance, there are governmental directives on Internet contents, yet this is a solitary mode of communication, thus infringing autonomy of speech. Congress endorsed the communication Decency Act, which presides over the content of communicative materials. The body illegalizes any phrase or speech, which includes obscene, dirty, and offensive content.

Americans deem in freedom of assemblage with no restraints; however, the intensification of Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP) confines their actions. There have been myriads of SLAPP suits that work against the remonstrations connected to ecological and rent issues. Some states pledged to thwart SLAPP suits bypassing regulations that offer imperviousness for citizens applying their rights of appeal or gratis speech. SLAPP suits, nonetheless, persevere to thrive in other states to freeze dissent and undercut legitimate rights.

Protection of the Right of Privacy

It is certain that the US constitution does not specify the right to privacy in its contents. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has ever instituted that this right is an essential human privilege. Even though the constitution identifies several rights in some amendments, the ninth one includes others not mentioned. It outlines that people possess open and inherent rights entrenched in the BOR, although they are not enlisted. Additionally, the third and fourth amendments guard one’s privacy.

The third amendment corroborates that the federal cannot quarter soldiers in one’s dwelling. While the fourth confirms that people require security in their places against irrational investigations and seizures (Glenn, 2003). However, there are still some loopholes since it is the government and the Supreme Court to determine reasonable searches and arrests. Amendment X outlines other non-inclusive powers, which rests with the people, which grant the right to privacy. The government lacks authority to inform nationals what to do apart from when the constitution outlines.

Why Supreme Court Hears and Interprets Cases

The hearing and interpretation of the cases depend on their worth. It is imperative to affirm that the Supreme Court has the command above charges involving individuals against federal or states and vice-versa. For instance, the case of protestors against S. Carolina involved the citizens and the state. The Supreme Court felt that the state was infringing on the lawful rights of the protestors. Furthermore, it has the mandate to hear cases of citizens against institutions, among other lawsuits. For the case of students and the principal, the Supreme Court presided over to interpret the rights not contained in the constitution. The Court can as well admit a case for analysis when it deems that the junior or national courts defy the constitutional, civil liberties of citizens. It is notable that the Supreme Court is the eventual stop of every judicial progression on the land. The resolutions and rulings that it passes are last and binding, thus leaving no room for appeal (Eastland, 2000).

Impacts of Supreme Court’s Decision

The Supreme Court has since examined the five liberties contained in the first amendment. Following the numerous cases that this Court pursues, it has discovered the degree of the rights, together with the errands of the Americans, who must apply them. The free will of expression has gained attention from the Supreme Court, thus clarifying whether freedom is fixed or other sectors have the powers to limit it (Patterson, 2009).

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The case of the Hazelwood School District against Kuhlmeier of 1988 was about freedom of expression in the learning institution. It is noted that the Supreme Court outlined that educators have the powers to limit this freedom within the school. Every institution has the right to control its publications, so long as it is within the academic concerns. The Court, therefore, limits the freedom of expression when the content offends other parties as the magazine did to the pregnant students.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court has the power to shield people’s rights. The case of Edward against South Carolina was about the free will of assembly, as well as appeal. The Court’s decision on this case reserved the rights of the petitioners. In this way, the Supreme Court cautioned the state, South Carolina of shear infringement of citizens’ rights. The Court outlined that people are free to assemble and petition if they feel that their freedoms are forbidden.


The assessment of the provisional freedoms by the Supreme Court and the verdicts and benchmarks therein affect US nationals. Every decree that prohibits assembly, expression and the petition is subject to an inquiry, which can resolve whether the law has satisfactory concern amongst the public to supersede what the Supreme Court has identified. This may pertain to rights, which are most fundamental to Americans. As citizens settle on the need and aspiration to confront these decrees, they should be sensible to consider the perimeters placed by the Supreme Court in the application of these liberties.


Eastland, T. (2000). Freedom of expression in the Supreme Court: the defining cases. Maryland, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Glenn, R. (2003). The right to privacy: rights and liberties under the law. California, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Patterson, T. E. (2009). The American Democracy, 9th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

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