When they took the Fourth Amendment, I was silent because I don't deal drugs. When they took the Sixth Amendment, I kept quiet because I know I'm innocent. When they took the Second Amendment, I said nothing because I don't own a gun. Now they've come for the First Amendment, and I can't say anything at all.
There is no question that under the Equal Rights Amendment there will be debates at times, indecision at times, litigation at times. Has anyone proposed that we rescind the First Amendment on free speech because there is too much litigation over it? Has anyone suggested the same for the Fourteenth Amendment I don't suppose there has ever been a constitutional amendment with so much litigation?
Every time I criticize what I consider to be excesses or faults in the news business, I am accused of repression, and the leaders of various media professional groups wave the First Amendment as they denounce me. That happens to be my amendment, too. It guarantees my free speech as it does their freedom of the press... There is room for all of us - and for our divergent views - under the First Amendment.
Spiro T. Agnew
Is there any media here? A couple? Excellent. I want to ask you, I don't know what persuasion you are, but would you like to go outside to a 1st Amendment zone? No! So did it make sense to have a 1st Amendment zone in Nevada? No, of course not. That's ridiculous. If we're talking about one of the most egregious things that happened down there, it was the 1st Amendment zone in Nevada.
...The Bill of Rights is a literal and absolute document. The First Amendment doesn't say you have a right to speak out unless the government has a 'compelling interest' in censoring the Internet. The Second Amendment doesn't say you have the right to keep and bear arms until some madman plants a bomb. The Fourth Amendment doesn't say you have the right to be secure from search and seizure unless some FBI agent thinks you fit the profile of a terrorist. The government has no right to interfere with any of these freedoms under any circumstances.
The men who wrote the First Amendment religion clause did not view paid legislative chaplains and opening prayers as a violation of that amendment... the practice of opening sessions with prayer has continued without interruption ever since that early session of Congress. It can hardly be thought that in the same week the members of the first Congress voted to appoint and pay a chaplain for each House and also voted to approve the draft of the First Amendment... (that) they intended to forbid what they had just declared acceptable.
Warren E. Burger
Remember: the ratings system is a voluntary infringement of First Amendment rights, an uneasy bargain between the needs of parents, the needs of artists, and the needs of large media corporations to make profits. Any time we chip away at the First Amendment, we should at least do it with some reverence.
There's no way you are going to get rid of the Second Amendment, there's no way you're going to get rid of the First Amendment, and people have to understand how important this is. But I think when they see more and more killings, we have to figure out, of course what we are going to do about it. And I don't think the criminal justice system has an answer.
At the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it, now under consideration [i.e., the First Amendment], the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was enacted in 1865 by martial law. The Fourteenth Amendment was enacted in 1868 by martial law. The Fifteenth Amendment was enacted in 1870 by martial law. Military occupation of the Southern states did not end until 1877, twelve years after the end of the Civil War.
Recent school shootings have lured ill-informed Americans into a war on our Second Amendment guarantees, led by the nation's tyrants and their useful idiots. ... The Second Amendment was given to us as protection against tyranny by the federal government and the Congress of the United States.
Walter E. Williams
Every public elementary school ought to welcome Good News Clubs. Parents appreciate them; children love them; and the First Amendment protects them. The First Amendment requires that similar groups be provided with equal treatment. Religious speech is not a disability. It is our preeminent freedom.
There is a recognition that Second Amendment rights, like First Amendment and other rights, come with responsibilities and limitations. There is no reason both sides of the gun debate can't support policies that both protect the right to legally own guns for sport and safety, and reduce the likelihood of mass fatalities.
Of course, such judicial misconstruction theoretically can be cured by constitutional amendment. But the period of gestation of a constitutional amendment, or of any law reform, is reckoned in decades usually; in years, at least. And, after all, as the Court itself asserted in overruling the minimum-wage cases, it may not be the Constitution that was at fault.
Robert H. Jackson
In the First Amendment to the Constitution, the Founders made it clear that this was not to be a sky-god nation with a national religion like that of England, from whom we had just separated. It is curious how little understood this amendment is-yes, everyone has a right to worship any god he chooses but he does not have the right to impose his beliefs on others who do not happen to share in his superstitions and taboos.
Jefferson found in the religion phrases of the First Amendment no vague or fuzzy language to be bent or shaped or twisted as suited any Supreme Court Justice or White House incumbent. That amendment had built a wall, with the ecclesiastical estate on one side and the civil estate on the other.
For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection. But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.
The Framers of the First Amendment were not concerned with preventing government from abridging their freedom to speak about crops and cockfighting, or with protecting the expressive activity of topless dancers, which of late has found some shelter under the First Amendment. Rather, the Framers cherished unabridged freedom of political communication.
As gun owners, my husband and I understand that the Second Amendment is most at risk when a criminal or deranged person commits a gun crime. These acts only embolden those who oppose gun ownership. Promoting responsible gun laws protects the Second Amendment and reduces lives lost from guns.
Desperate times require desperate measures. What Lincoln and the Lobbyist for the Amendment and the Manager of the Amendment and himself, what they did to get this passed was not illegal. It was murky, but what they did was noble and grand. How they went about it was somewhat murky, but nothing they did was really illegal.
[T]he enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.... Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
It could be clearly proved that by a practical nullification [by the South] of the Fifteenth Amendment the Republicans have for several years been deprived of a majority in both the House and Senate. The failure of the South to faithfully observe the Fifteenth Amendment is the cause of the failure of all efforts towards complete pacification. It is on this hook that the bloody shirt now hangs.
Rutherford B. Hayes
The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people from religion; that amendment was written to protect religion from government tyranny. . . But now we're told our children have no right to pray in school. Nonsense. The pendulum has swung too far toward intolerance against genuine religious freedom. It is time to redress the balance.
The Constitution, in addition to delegating certain enumerated powers to Congress, places whole areas outside the reach of Congress' regulatory authority. The First Amendment, for example, is fittingly celebrated for preventing Congress from "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion or "abridging the freedom of speech." The Second Amendment similarly appears to contain an express limitation on the government's authority.
Nowhere else in the Constitution does a 'right' attributed to 'the people' refer to anything other than an individual right. What is more, in all six other provisions of the Constitution that mention 'the people,' the term unambiguously refers to all members of the political community, not an unspecified subset... The Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms... The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it 'shall not be infringed.
To those who cite the first amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just say: The first amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.
The First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights in the United States Constitution were being violated in Albany again and again freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the equal protection of the laws I could count at least 30 such violations. Yet the president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, and all the agencies of the United States government at his disposal, were nowhere to be seen.
By calling attention to 'a well regulated militia,' 'the security of the nation,' and the right of each citizen 'to keep and bear arms,' our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy... The Second Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important.
John F. Kennedy
Now I realize it's fashionable in some circles to believe that no one in government should encourage others to read the Bible. That we're told we'll violate the constitutional separation of church and state established by the Founding Fathers and the First Amendment. The First Amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values. It was written to protect those values from government tyranny.
The First Amendment's language leaves no room for inference that abridgments of speech and press can be made just because they are slight. That Amendment provides, in simple words, that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." I read "no law . . . abridging" to mean no law abridging.
I think the reality is that copyright law has for a very long time been a tiny little part of American jurisprudence, far removed from traditional First Amendment jurisprudence, and that made sense before the Internet. Now there is an unavoidable link between First Amendment interests and the scope of copyright law. The legal system is recognizing for the first time the extraordinary expanse of copyright regulation and its regulation of ordinary free-speech activities.
I prefer an income tax, but the truth is I am afraid of the discussion which will follow and the criticism which will ensue if there is an other division in the Supreme Court on the subject of the income tax. Nothing has injured the prestige of the Supreme Court more than that last decision, and I think that many of the most violent advocates of the income tax will be glad of the substitution in their hearts for the same reasons. I am going to push the Constitutional amendment, which will admit an income tax without questions, but I am afraid of it without such an amendment.
William Howard Taft