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.
The First Amendment was ratified when G.W. was president in 1791 and covers freedom of speech, religion, press, and politics. While the amendment may give you the freedom of speech, it has it's exceptions, the amendment does not give you the right to threaten, blackmail, or say something that harms another person.
Under the first amendment, your freedom of speech is protected so you're free to pretty much say what you want. However, that doesn't mean that being ignorant and saying rude things is okay. It means that the government cannot arrest you for saying things that they don't like.
The first amendment also gives you the right to religion, meaning that you are free to practice any religion you'd like, or choose not to have a religion. The amendment also prevents the government from forcing anyone to practice one religion, or prohibiting any religion from being practiced. However it doesn't give you the right to force your religion onto other people.
Freedom of religion means that you have the right to practice any religion you want as well as not practicing one at all, which is what this picture represents. The hearts on top of every sign of religion is showing that any religion practiced in America will be accepted.
Along with speech and religion, the amendment also promises freedom of the press. Meaning that if you do not like something that the government is doing, they cannot arrest you for expressing your opinion about it as long as you are peacefully protesting and not destroying government property. However the amendment does not let you tell lies about the government.
This cartoon represents the policy to most of the first amendments, including freedom of press, which does give you the right to say things about the government even if it's things you don't like, but it doesn't give you the right to lie about the government.
Supreme Court Case Summary: Engel v. Vitale , School Prayer
This court case was ruled yes in account of violating the First Amendment because New York had passed a law stating all public schools had to start the day with the pledge of allegiance as well as a morning prayer that made the kids "recognize their dependence upon God". One of the parents sued, stating that it violated the First Amendment even though the law allowed for the students to be absent while the prayer occurred if they didn't want to. The Judges agreed that the law violated the Amendment because even though they allowed for the kids to be dismissed, they stated the purpose of the first amendment was to prohibit the government from interference with religion. They also said that wars and other terrible events were mostly caused because of government interference with religion, also bringing up our past arguments with Britain government and their interference with religion.
The last section in the first amendment gives you the right to politics, meaning you have the right to listen and know about cases, and that all cases must be publicly expressed and they can publicly be viewed. The government cannot hide an case and/or express lies about what's happened.
Citations: Everything used to make this website was found in the US History I google classroom links.