American Gov Essay

1322 words - 6 pages

American Government
4/24/2013
“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.” The bill of rights was submitted to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789 and adopted on December 15, 1791. The first amendment was one of those amendments within the bill of rights to be adopted by the American culture. The first amendment was made as an act to guarantee our civil liberties rights. What people don’t really know is that the 1st amendment had to undergo ...view middle of the document...

When the First Amendment was originally made, it was only meant for the federal government to enforce it. The federal government had to follow the first amendment and couldn’t violate the people rights like freedom of religion. But when it came to the state government, those rights didn’t apply to them. Around the time of the ratification of the 1st amendment, a few of the states had already established religious facilities. These churches weren’t protected in the state. The government could have closed facilities and it would be perfectly legal. In 1865, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. This amendment made the First Amendment apply to not only the federal government but also state government.
In 1947 there was a case called Everson v. Board of education. This case was brought by a taxpayer against a tax funded school district. The school provided reimbursement to parents of both public and private schooled children taking the public transportation system to school. The taxpayer thought it violated the constitution since the parents were being reimbursed. This case incorporated the establishment clause. This means that the first amendment, along with the bill of rights, didn’t only apply to the federal government. The first amendment also applied to the state government. But it didn’t really take affect till later on. In the Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, the justice concluded that “the government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.”
Sherbert v. Verner(1963) was another court case that the 1st amendment had to be reviewed. A woman was fired because she couldn’t work on Saturday. Saturday was a religious day for called Sabbath. She sought unemployment benefits since she wasn’t able to get any other job. The issue in this cases was should the worker eligibility for unemployment benefits cause a worker to abandon her religious belief. The court ruled it was unconstitutional to restrict person eligibility for unemployment benefits because of their religious beliefs. The government must have compelling interest before refusing unemployment benefits. When Employment Division v. Smith took place, it held that no interest was needed under the Free Exercise Clause if it didn’t target a particular religious practice. If these court cases didn’t happen, then many people would face discrimination in the workplace for their religion. They wouldn’t feel safe or comfortable practicing their religion.
The free speech clause has never been ruled until the 20th century of its constitutionality. One case that regarded freedom of speech was New York Times v. Sullivan. Sullivan was suing New York Times because of an ad which he said harm his reputation. The ad was about how the arrest of Martin Luther King was part of a campaign to ensure that Kings Effort was ceased. Martin Luther...

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