"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."
Constitution of the United States
Matt Lauer and the rest of the main-scream media, along with the ACLU and most Americans in general are positively clueless as to what the above quote means. After reading it carefully, then re-reading it even more carefully, it can be broken down and analyzed, much the same way Red Skelton broke down the Pledge of Allegiance on his television program.
Once the First Amendment is analyzed then it can be seen for what it is really saying and not what some $250.00 per hour Beverly Hills lawyer wants people to believe it says. The men who authored the Constitution and its first ten amendments phrased the document in such a way that anyone who read it would understand it. It has been since the beginning of lawyers that the words of the Constitution have been subverted, misinterpreted and even maligned.
Ask any random 20 lawyers if he or she has ever read the Constitution from Preamble to Amendment 27 (you didn't even know there were 27 amendments, did you? You thought there were only 26 with the last one that gives 18-year-olds the right to vote) and of those 20, eighteen will sheepishly admit they have not. The remaining two will deny emphatically ever having read it. So what is the First Amendment actually saying? Read on and find out.
The branch of the United States federal government that debates and creates the laws of this great nation. It consists of the 100 senators, two from each of the 50 states, and the 435 representatives allotted each state according to its own population. The use of this word references only the federal Congress and excludes the separate state governments, however, the Constitution itself prohibits states from enacting laws contrary to federal law.
shall make no law
This is the express prohibition of the creation of any law, policy or ordinance. Within this phrase alone is the power to stop Congress cold.
In reference to.
"an establishment of religion"
There will be no "Church of America." This was to eliminate the possibility of the same kind of theocratic rule that was prevalent in England at the time.
"or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
Together, these phrases mean that Congress cannot draft legislation prohibiting or defining religious practices.
"or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press"
This clause protects the people and the press from a Congress that would draft legislation making it a crime to print or say anything deemed inappropriate on the whim of disgruntled legislators. More literally, this means that anyone choosing to speak out against the government may do so without fear of retaliation from that government. It does not, however, guarantee that people will not ever disagree with you and may even exercise their own right to ignore you. The Dixie Chicks have yet to learn this lesson.
"the right of the people peaceably to assemble"
The application of this one requires some responsibility of the part of those assembling. Should they choose to assemble, they might require a permit. This is for their own protection and ordinances very from venue to venue, but the government cannot keep them from assembling. This includes, unfortunately, such groups as the KKK, neo-Nazis and Democrats. It also includes the word "peaceably" meaning that there is no justification for violence at one of these assemblies and in fact, those assembling are expected to be on their best civil behavior.
"to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Just what you might think it means. The people have a right to seek some sort of compensation for an injustice and Congress cannot stop them via legislation. Our courts are overwhelmed by people who take this idea just too far. The more practical definition of that this is saying is that if someone cheats someone else out of money, the victim has the right to seek compensation for the money lost. This portion of this amendment was never meant to justify suing McDonalds because someone was too stupid to know that coffee is served hot or because someone went on a tirade and said something offensive.
So there is the First Amendment. It does not say that children cannot pray in school. It does not protect anyone from disagreeing with someone else. It does not give the right to start a riot and it does not allow morons to sue McDonalds because the person got fat from eating there too much. The First Amendment protects the people from the kind of abusive power of which King George of England was guilty when the colonists chose to break away.
Tune in next time for a treatise on the Second Amendment. That one should make the liberals nervous.