The Bill of Rights_10Ammendments

The Bill of Rights_10Ammendments - The Bill of Rights The...

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The Bill of Rights The original Bill of Rights consisted of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Twelve amendments were proposed, but two were not ratified. The Bill of Rights took effect December 15, 1791, when Virginia became the eleventh state to ratify the amendments. Many people consider the First Amendment to be the most important amendment in the Bill of Rights. It has four provisions that protect freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the right of citizens to assemble and petition the government. These rights are vital to a representative form of government. The religious freedom provision has two clauses: the establishment clause and the prohibition clause , which is also called the free exercise clause . The establishment clause forbids government from creating or endorsing an official church or formally supporting religious activities or showing preference for one religion over another. This clause results in what Thomas Jefferson referred to as the "separation of church and state." Most contemporary court cases involving the establishment clause concern religion and education. It has also been cited in cases involving religious displays on government property. The prohibition clause prohibits government from interfering with religious beliefs. In applying this clause, the Supreme Court has distinguished between religious belief and action. For example, the Court struck down polygamy as a protected religious practice in Reynolds v. U.S . in 1879. The Court ruled that the prohibition clause did not protect actions that were "violations of social duties or subversive of good order." The First Amendment's freedom of speech provision is closely related to the ones that follow it: freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government. The degree to which the Supreme Court has upheld the right to free speech has varied, depending upon the type of speech at issue. Pure speech, involving only spoken words, has received the greatest protection. However, speech combined with action, such as picketing, has received limited protection. While picketers have the right to speak freely, their actions on the picket line may be regulated by government. First Amendment protection of symbolic speech, such as burning draft cards or flag burning, has been mixed. The
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The Bill of Rights_10Ammendments - The Bill of Rights The...

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