The Federalist Papers where the means in which proponents of the proposed Constitution of the United States of America, argued, vetted, and
ultimately; via a Free Press; disseminated the ideals of a Republic and federal system of government, to the People of the various States of the
The premise behind the volume of writings were to highlight any concerns and ultimately; quell any worries, to clarify misconceptions, and ultimately
to promote proposed the newly proposed Law of the Land. The volume consists of 84 separate articles, written specifically and in address to concerns,
of the various States (in particular, New York) and the People to agree upon the proposed constitution. At the time, the writers remained anonymous
and wrote under the moniker Publius (as they will be known hereon.) Through time, we have learned that Publius were in fact three separate persons:
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.
Publius' efforts expended great philosophy and wisdom to highlight how the newly proposed Constitution would effect the greatest amount of Liberty to
the People, while establishing a new form of Government; Federalism. With great exhaustion, Publius highlighted nearly every aspect, countered every
argument and eloquently explained why the Constitution was superior. Their writings however, were before the proposed and now ratified, Bill of
An examination of the Bill of Rights is needed, in which staunch defense thereof is provided with insight of the Federalist Papers and Publius, along
with modern day examples of how such Rights have been abused. This is a series of posts that examine each of the Bills, in their own right, and how
each has been implemented, abused, contorted, and under constant subterfuge at the hands of the very Government that is to respect them.
"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"
When you read it above, it is straight forward. Congress (the Federal Government), will not make any law that denies the People of practicing a
religion (or none at all) -- nor will it ever establish a religion as an "official" one by "respecting one over the other.
This subject, under great contention in this nation, was expanded greatly when persons extracted a small portion of a larger statement made be Thomas
Jefferson, in his letter to the Danbury Baptist. He wrote, in part that there is "a wall of separation between Church & State". What isn't widely
known, is that this was a correspondence between Mr. Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist. Correspondence that greatly expands this narrow passage of
Mr. Jefferson, into the real debate with regards to the First Amendment and religion thereof.
In their initial letter
, they wrote that "Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of
religious liberty--that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals--that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or
effects on account of his religious opinions...", they continue with expression on the legitimacy of Government by stating "civil government extends
no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbors".
Where they were concerned, was regarding where religion lies in regard to inalienable rights. In which they write, "...what religious privileges we
enjoy (as a minor part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights; and these favors we receive at the expense of such
degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen."
This is to what Thomas Jefferson replied to, in which he expressed them, and their concerns, that the State has no authority to dictate their
religious beliefs. Since then, Mr. Jefferson's writings have been twisted to state he was establishing
a wall in which the State can dictate
a religion; when it is clear, as you read, that he was stating that the State itself, has no bearing upon a religious establishment.
Moving deeper into the First Amendment, we arrive upon the second clause, in which it is stated that "Congress...shall make no law...abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press..."
This clause was to ensure that the the People could speak freely and publish freely, any material they wish. It also puts forth that Congress cannot
legislate the means of producing such speech; aka "the Press". Looking at the definition of the period of "the Press", it is evident that it
meant the means of production and dissemination of speech, rather than the notion of some corp or ordained "priests" known as the media.
claims that it is a "political right" and that it is "granted". That is wholly
inaccurate because before there was Government, we could speak. We do not need Government to tell us, as babes, to learn to speak; as it is
The very reason that James Madison included not only the protection of speech, but the means of which it may be published "the Press", gives weight
that any means of which we are to express our thoughts, our dissent, our expressions, our political views; can never be subjected to the whimsical
notion of Congress. It however does place great responsibility upon the speaker in which they express.
While the oft used phrase, "you cannot yell 'fire' in a crowded theater" is uttered in First Amendment arguments, it is disingenuous to the notion
of Free Speech. You surely can yell "fire", but the responsibility of such speech is held to the crier. They are not held to the speech in which
they uttered, but the consequences thereof. It should be known that if there were indeed a fire in a crowded theater, would you not want someone to
cry out that there is danger? Or would you feel better that they remain silent for fear of their speech?
Free speech naturally leads us to the last part of the First Amendment, in which it reads in part "Congress...shall make no law...abridging...the
right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances""
This is the cornerstone of the First Amendment. It actively pushes back upon the Government and protects its very enemies, the People. The very
people who will speak out against transgressions, who will petition the Government for their ills, assemble freely with like minded (or even non-like
minded) individuals. It is the crux of our ability to be free, to seek out whom we wish to deal with. To make decisions freely, without fear of
Government deciding that our dealings are dangerous to the State.
Ultimately, the First Amendment highlights very individualistic ideals; we can worship without the State deciding who we can or cannot worship; we can
speak freely and publish freely, without fear that the State will censor us; and lastly, we can associate with whomever we wish and even directly
petition our Government in their acts in which we feel are transgressions.
The First Amendment is a Natural Amendment. We are all born with the freedom to express ourselves; may it be in words, faith, dissent or otherwise;
regardless of what the State say