The First Amendment is thought by many to be the most important of the Amendments. Under the First Amendment freedom various types of expression are protected. Just like a house of cards will topple if a card is removed, if one right of the amendment is removed, other rights will soon topple. For this reason many believe all parts of the First Amendment must be protect at all costs. In this essay, several different ideas will be discussed concerning the First Amendment.
The first paragraph will go into detail about this Amendment. After explaining what the First Amendment protects, paragraph two will discuss how the Landmark case, Barnette v. West Virginia Board of Educations, affected the understanding of the First Amendment. After that, the third case will discuss two contemporary cases that have also affected the understanding the First Amendment. Our final paragraph will give an overview of this essay and discusses what to take from this.
The First Amendment is something every American knows. However, it is always good to look back at how it was created, and why it was created. This Amendment was the first on the bill of rights. Many believed that it would not be enough to have implied rights, that they must be written on paper so the government could not easily start taking away our rights. When the First Amendment was made, it was so that freedom of expression was not taken away.
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. ” This is the quote of the First Amendment. This is what the writers of the Constitution made in order to protect our rights. Still today, there are advocates to insure that all 5 of these freedoms that come under Freedom of Expression are protected.
The organization Ifex has the goal to “defend and promote everyone’s right to free expression(. ifex. org) Now, that we understand the First Amendment, we can explain the Landmark case that has had a profound effect on it. The case in question is Barnette v. West Virginia Board of Educations. This case focuses on the Freedom of Religion. Can schools force children to say the pledge of allegiance? Can a school expel a student if they refuse to salute the flag?
Evidence provided by the defendant, a scripture, “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for 1, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation of those who hate me”(New World Translation Exodus 20:4, 5), This was used as part of the Beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who believe that pledging allegiance to a flag is a form of idol worship.
The prosecution brought up a past case of Gobitas v. Minersville, reasoning that this case had already decided it was constitutional to force the pledge of allegiance be done or face expulsion. The result of thisBarnette v. West Virginia Board of Education ruled it was unconstitutional to force a student to salute the flag and forcing a student to say the pledge of allegiance was a violation of the First Amendment. The impact of this ruling was a major gain for religious freedom. It opened the doors to protect not only popular religious groups but also unpopular religions.
Are there any present-day cases? No, There have not been cases concerning Religion in the past 5 years. But, remember, if one piece of the First Amendment is abused or taken away, the house of cards starts to fall. How so? Consider Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. According to the site Oyez, “The Plaintiffs brought the claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments seeking to invalidate a newly-enacted law that imposed restrictions and labeling requirements on the sale or rental of “violent video games” to miniors”(“Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. Oyez. )
This case decided whether or not Video Games were an type of expression. It was decided it was a violation of the First Amendment, as video games were a form of expression, and Brown could not restrict this. Another case is United States v. Alvarez, this case decide that civilians could not wear military uniforms and medals, as it was not protected by the First Amendment. This ruling shows there are limits to the First Amendment. In conclusion, The First Amendment, protects all our freedoms of expression, ranging from freedom of the press to freedom of religion.
The landmark cases of Gobitas v. Minersville and Barnette v. West Virginia Board of Education prove we are still interpreting the constitution, and that freedom of religion needs to be protect for everyone. The case or Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, concerning video games, shows video games are expression and they need to be protected. Our final case, United States v. Alvarez, concerning uniforms, shows that sometimes our rights are limited. Interpreting this amendment correctly is important. If we are not careful it can easily be destroyed or abused if not properly interpreted.