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Reflections on the First Amendment

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Reflections on the First Amendment

HIS/301

April 9, 2013

Mr. De La Peña

Reflections on the First Amendment

The first amendment to the United States Constitution states that no law can be made to create a national religion, or imped the free practice of any or no religion. It also states that no one can infringe on the freedom of speech, freedom of press, and that no one can interfere with the right to peaceably assemble. This paper will cover the rights of privacy the first amendment protects, why so many cases need to be interpreted by the Supreme Court, and how those decisions are made by the Supreme Court that affects the rights of Americans today.

Rights of Privacy
The United States Constitution was written to be an instruction guide for what America’s government can do, not what the American citizens can do. The Constitution does not clearly express any right to privacy. The first 10 amendments, known as the Bill of the Rights, reflects the concerns brought up during the ratification process of the Constitution, specifically reflected the rights and privileges of the American citizen. Amendment rights are not always protected. The notable court case of Garcetti v. Ceballos questioned the privacy of an employee, in which the Supreme Court decided “When public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, they are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline” (Garcettu v. Ceballos, 2006). It is clear from the Constitution that the Post Office was established to keep correspondence private and not to be opened by anyone except the recipient, but the envisioned right to privacy is still very debatable. In the fourth amendment citizens are protected from any reasonable searches and seizers, but in recent years airport scans, wiretapping, and many other means to protect American citizens are put to the test of what is the right of privacy.

Supreme Court
The Constitution’s Article III established the federal judiciary that would serve as a check of power to the executive and legislature but also as a national institution that could settle disputes among states and try to unify the laws of America. The Supreme Court’s most important power was not part of the Constitution. In the case Marbury v. Madison in 1803 where Chief Justice, and Federalist, John Marshall set the precedence for the Supreme Courts power of judicial review. Judicial review gave the Court the right to review and take action against any legislation; local, state, or federal, and deem it unconstitutional.
The Congress then had created the lower courts to ease the burden of the Supreme Court. The lower courts consist of the United States District Court, the United States Court of Appeals. With only a fraction of cases heard by the Supreme Court these lower courts have tremendous power over how laws are interpreted. The Supreme Court clears up matters where the lower courts cannot agree or by exhausting the lower court’s rulings.
The Supreme Court changes with the American people. New appointments to the Court by new presidents and the temperament of the American public make a difference in how the Constitution is interpreted. The Supreme Court has reversed or drastically changed around 40 cases in history.

Rights of citizens
When the Supreme Court hears a case and makes their ruling, a precedent is set. The Court works toward a balance of the rights of the individual and the needs of society at large. When the Court issues a ruling the rights of all American citizens they are changed or clarified. These rulings also affect all courts, previously laws passed, and created. The most recent ruling from the Supreme Court is met with mix emotions. For six years, various of states have tried to put laws into effect regarding violent video games, and each time they have been taken to court. June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in agreement with the lower courts that such laws are unconstitutional restrictions on the first amendment. “If there were a long standing tradition in this county of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence, but there is none” (Justice Alito, 2011). This ruling is upsetting to those that feel these types of games should not be marketed to children, but precedence has been set and a fair ruling was made.

Conclusion
Article III of the United States Constitution established the judicial branch of government. The Supreme Court is to protect the unity of laws within the states and be a check and balance for the executive and legislative branch. In 1803 the Court was given their biggest and most important job judicial review. The Supreme Court is to protect the Constitution and be the primary defenders for interpreting the rights intended by the Framers. The first amendment protects the rights of the average American citizen regarding religion, press, speech, and assembles. It is the Supreme Court’s job to make the hard choices of what is right and fair by what is outlined in the Constitution and additional amendments. Once the Court rules on a matter, the American people have consistency and precedence to help America grow as one.

References

Cornell University Law School (2006). Garvetti v. Ceballos (No. 04-473). http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-4.ZS.html.Cushman, R. (1936)
The Supreme Court and the Constitution. http://newdeal.feri.org/court/cushman.htm. Masnick, M. (2011) Supreme Court Says Anti-Violent Video Game Law Violated the First Amendment. www.techdirt.comarticles/20110627/11000414873/supreme-court-says-anti-violent-video-game-law-violates-first-amendment.shtmlUS Constitution.net (2011)

The United States Constitution. http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Preamble.

UMKC School of Law (2011) The Right of Privacy http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/rightofprivacy.html

References: Cornell University Law School (2006). Garvetti v. Ceballos (No. 04-473). http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-4.ZS.html.Cushman, R. (1936) The Supreme Court and the Constitution. http://newdeal.feri.org/court/cushman.htm. Masnick, M. (2011) Supreme Court Says Anti-Violent Video Game Law Violated the First Amendment. www.techdirt.comarticles/20110627/11000414873/supreme-court-says-anti-violent-video-game-law-violates-first-amendment.shtmlUS Constitution.net (2011) The United States Constitution. http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Preamble. UMKC School of Law (2011) The Right of Privacy http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/rightofprivacy.html

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