The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees its citizen to have right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.
Freedoms of expression include freedom of the press, of speech, of association, of assembly and petition. The most basic freedom in the United States is the freedom of speech. In a democratic country, the citizens have the power to voice out their opinions about government services. The citizens can express themselves through publication and information dissemination.
In 1728, during the time of French-Indian war, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act. It says that “any false, scandalous and malicious writing” against the ruling government is punishable by law.
In U.S history, the proposal was used by the dominant Federalist Party to persecute the libelous Republication publication in the late 18th century.
The United Stated Supreme Court had written that freedom of expression is “the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom.” Without this guarantee from government, other fundamental rights, such as right to vote, would be invalid.
The path to freedom of speech was hard and arduous. It took 200 years to establish laws about government’s control on “seditious” and “subversive” speech. Along the way, many citizens are arrested, like labor leader in the name of Eugene V. Debs. He was jailed for 10 years because of preaching that workers are “fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder.”
For the drafters of the U.S constitution, they realize that when governments forbid its citizen to talk about certain topics, it forces the citizen to discuss it secretly. By allowing the citizens to voice out their opinions, the First Amendment was enacted.
For the freedom of religion, the First Amendment gives two clauses for this right. The established clause prohibits the government to pass laws that would promote an official religion or preferring one religion over another. The amendment enforces the “separation of church and state.” In most instances, the first clause prohibits the government t0 interfere citizen’s religious practices.
The citizens also have the right to express and to manifest their religious beliefs. Churches and families are constitutionally protected to erect religious monuments on their own property, regardless of whether it is public or private and regardless of whether someone is offended or not. For example, a Christian cross that is fully visible from a public sidewalk is constitutionally protected when it placed in front of a church.
One of the most hotly debated topics about religion in America is the r role of religion in public schools. The broadcast was filled with rhetoric messages suggesting that the US Supreme Court took a prayer to God, or the religion on the public schools.
Constitutional experts said that public schools are prohibited to promote particular religious beliefs or activities. Also, public schools should protect children from being coerced by others to accept religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of expression and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.