“The First Amendment”
In the beginning, our founding fathers where working on drafting a formal Constitution for our newly formed country. The representatives for some of the newly formed states, worried about the current draft of the Constitution. Many of the states and there representatives, had concerns about the wording of the current draft of the Constitution. The representatives feared if the current draft, if left as-is it would allow the government a pathway to violate individual civil rights. In addition, it could possibly promote tyranny. The very issue they were getting away from with England’s Rule. Thus, the representatives demanded a “Bill of Rights” to be included with the Constitution to insure protection of individual citizen’s civil rights. http://archives.gov Originally, “The Bill of Rights” started with “Ten Amendments.” This essay is going to focus attention on several U.S. Supreme Court Cases that challenged the “First Amendment.” The “First Amendment” includes the Right to Choose Ones Religion, and does not allow the government to create any laws in respect to establishing a religion. The “First Amendment” also includes the rights to, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Right to Assemble and Petition the Government to address Citizen’s Grievances. Here is a summary of three important and controversial “U.S. Supreme Court Cases.” All of which posed serious challenges to the “First Amendment” to “The Bill of Rights.” The first of the Supreme Court cases I will summarize, a landmark decision dealing with the right to “Freedom of the Press.” The petitioner in this case was Nebraska Press Association, et al. vs. Stuart 1976. Ed A Walton Litz, et al. Vol 1: UXL 2001(pages 51-55) The petitioners’ claim was that a court order preventing the news media from reporting about a criminal trial violated the First Amendment. The respondent was Judge Hugh Stuart, et al. including Justices for the Court: Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan Jr., Warren E. Burger (writing for the court), Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White. On October 19, 1975, Police arrested Erwin Simant and subsequently charged him with murdering six members of the Kellie family. The crime happened in the small rural farm town of Sutherland, Nebraska. The population of this town was very small only consisting of 850 people. The county judge in the case ordered a gag order. The judge feared that all the local, state, and national coverage of the case would prevent Simant from receiving a fair trial. The day after the issue of the gag order, The Nebraska Press Association asked the court to remove it. The county court transferred the case and it ended up in Judge Hugh Stuart’s courtroom. Judge Stuart immediately issued his own gag order. Judge Stuart by issuing the gag order was trying to prevent, crucial information about the case from being reported by the press to the community. This information included confessions the defendant made to police, notes he wrote the night of the murder and other important evidence circulated into the small community. With this a real possibility it could prevent Simant from any chance of a non-bias jury trial. The press disagreed and appealed the gag order to the Nebraska Supreme Court. The media claimed the gag order violated the First Amendment “Freedom of the Press”. After looking at the case, the Nebraska Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the gag order with a few minor changes. The media was outraged at the courts dicision and appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. After careful consideration of the issues of “Freedom of the Press” and Simants’ “Right to a Fair Trial” The court came to a unanimous decision. The gag order did...