The of the people peaceably to assemble,

The First Amendment is necessary for a good functioning Democratic Government. We must learn more about our rights so that we can protect them. We cherish our First Amendment rights and not take them for granted because without them there would be chaos.  The First Amendment to the United States, along with nine other amendments to the Constitution of the United States making up the Bill of Rights, was adopted on December 15, 1791. The First Amendment protects our natural rights of Americans. It states that “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 protects our rights to the freedom of speech, religion, press, the right to peaceful protest and to petition the government.  Landmark Court cases have often taken up cases include the rights of citizens, many times, the First Amendment. These landmark court cases range from protesting the U.S. involvement in wars in foreign countries, the right to publish classified government documents and the burning of the U.S flag. One major landmark court case is the case of Tinker v Des Moines Independent Community School District. In December 1965, a group of students in Des Moines decided to wear black armbands during the holiday season. Also to practice fasting on December 16 and continue, on New Year’s Eve. When finding out about this plan the principle of the Des Moines school created a policy that stated that any student wearing an armband would be asked to remove it, if the pupil did not do so, this would result in suspension. On the morning of December 16, Mary Beth Tinker and her friend, Christopher Eckhardt wore their armbands to school, they were sent home, Suspended. The same day John Tinker also wore his armband and the result was the same. The suspended students did not return to school until after New Year’s Day, during the end of their protest. With the help of their parents, the students sued the school district for “violating the students’ right of expression and sought an injunction to prevent the school district from disciplining the students.” The district court dismissed the case and stated that the school district’s actions were “reasonable to uphold school discipline.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the decision without opinion. The school board president, Ora Niffenegger, wrote in a local news article, to justify the ban on armbands. Ora said the ban was a “disciplinary measure” against “disturbing influence” in school. “Our country’s leaders have decided on a course of action, and we should support them,” said Niffenegger. Did the rule against wearing armbands in public school, as a form of symbolic protest, violate the students’ freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment? The Supreme Court ruled yes in a 7-2 decision. The students won. The high court agreed that students’ free rights should be protected and said, “Students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates.”  This ruling helped give students in school more of a voice and showed that they too can stand up for their rights. This also allowed for more students to hold their own protests and open stand for what they believe is right. Other court cases include the case of Bell v. Itawamba County School Board and Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer. The case of Bell v. Itawamba County School Board has been in the court system since mid-2011. It all started when a young, student rapper named Taylor Bell was disciplined for rap lyrics that school officials believed were “threatening to the teachers.” Taylor was rapping about his frustration after hearing from several of his friends that two school athletic instructors were sexually harassing female students during school. It was said that the instructors were making crude comments and even touching the girls inappropriately. More widely known rappers like “Killer Mike” quickly took a stand with the young rapper. Killer Mike, argued, “that the First Amendment permits expression, no matter how uncomfortable some people are with the language used in rap music.” Killer Mike said, “I see a kid who saw wrong happening and was outraged about it, he wrote a poem about it over a beat.” Bell appealed to the Supreme Court as his last hope for justice. The justices are still currently considering whether or not to take on his case.The Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center is a preschool and daycare center open yearly to aid working families in Boone County, Missouri, and the areas located close by. The Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center wanted to replace their gravel playground area with pour-in-place rubber surface by participating in Missouri’s Scrap Tire Program. The Missouri Scrap Tire Program is run by the State’s Department of Natural Resources in an effort to reduce the number of used tires. The program offers reimbursement grants, to qualifying non profit organizations that purchase playground surfaces made from reused and recycled tires. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ has a policy of “denying grants to any applicant owned or controlled by a church, sect or other religious entity.” In doing this they violated the rights of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment by “denying the church an otherwise available public benefit on account of its religious status.” Overall, the freedoms that the First Amendment gives us, is so important. We must fight for our rights when we know we have wronged. When we do this we make sure that our rights or protected for us now and in the future.  

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