If you use a screen reader, you can get the First Amendment text-only tip sheet here.
The First Amendment offers a blanket of protection to people in the United States. Here are some important tips that everyone should know.
Freedom of speech:
- Know it: The government cannot restrict your right to speak, regardless of what you have to say.
- Practice it: Political speech is considered highly protected, and even hate speech is covered. However, other types of speech remain unprotected, such as obscenity, fraud, defamation, and incitement to violence.
- Protect it: While it’s true that the First Amendment protects your speech from government restrictions, private organizations can make up their own rules.
Freedom of religion
- Know it: You can have whatever religious or non-religious beliefs you like and practice accordingly, so long as it doesn’t break the law or interfere with someone else’s liberties.
- Practice it: Praying in public schools is A-OK. Under the First Amendment, students have the right to pray as long as they aren’t being disruptive.
- Protect it: The government is not allowed to persecute you over your exercise of religion.
Freedom of assembly:
- Know it: Also known as the freedom of association, it protects people’s right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue, and defend common interests.
- Practice it: You’re allowed to join the association of your choosing.
- Protect it: Know that you can gather in public places free from government interference.
Freedom of the press:
- Know it: Journalists can report on the news without government control.
- Practice it: Student journalists are also covered by this First Amendment freedom.
- Protect it: Fight back against government censorship. You’re allowed to publish stories that are critical of government institutions, including your own university.
Freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances:
- Know it: The right to petition lets you appeal to the government to change its policies without reprisal or punishment.
- Practice it: Thanks to this freedom, you can peacefully protest, picket, lobby, write letters, publicly testify, file lawsuits, collect signatures, launch email campaigns, and support referenda.
- Protect it: Understand that you’re free to speak up for legislation you support or speak out against something you think is wrong.