First Amendment of the United States Constitution

 

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1st Amendment (Amendment I)

 
 
Various Postage Stamps Honoring the First Amendment
 

What Does it Say?

 
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.
 

What Does it Mean?

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or free exercise thereof” –

This section of the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from establishing a national religion, or, from favoring one religion or non-religion over another. In addition, it prohibits the government from establishing laws that prohibit free exercise of religion. It guarantees a separation between church (religion) and state (government).

“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 section of the First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing laws that censor the free expression of opinion or fact in speech, print , publication, or media (freedom of press). Furthermore, the First Amendment guarantees the right for people to assemble for the purposes of peaceful protest or expression, as well as the right for individuals to petition the government for the correction of actual or perceived injustice.