Amendment I

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.

Ratified in 1791

The First Amendment has three components. The first established the principle of Separation of Church and State. The second asserts the principles of free speech and the free press, while the third relates to the political process. The first two have proved much more controversial, due to the difficulty that arises from defining exactly what the terms mean.

See Table of Amendments.

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Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism by Geoffrey R. Stone.
Stone incisively investigates how the First Amendment and other civil liberties have been compromised in America during wartime, from the Sedition Act...
Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America by Steven Waldman.
The culture wars have distorted the dramatic story of how Americans came to worship freely. Many activists on the right maintain that the United State...
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell.
In The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell travels once again through America's past, this time to seventeenth-century New England. From the British Library...
Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion by David Barton.
In their own words, the Supreme Court has become "a national theology board," "a super board of education," and amateur psychologists on a "psycho-jou...
The Fear Within: Spies, Commies, and American Democracy on Trial by Scott Martelle.
Sixty years ago political divisions in the United States ran even deeper than today's name-calling showdowns between the left and right. Back then, to...

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