Recently I decided to go back and read the Constitution, for the first time since High School.  It was an eye opening experience, to say the least.  I found I really needed to brush up on our laws, and their meaning.  What hit me the hardest, was my memory of the lack of time spent during school on such a crucial subject.  I sense there is some brushing up to do for all of us, and this will undoubtedly be an excellent exercise for myself, as well as my readers.  With this in mind, I will be posting portions of the Constitution, providing further explanations as needed, piece by piece.  This will be in no particular order, however I will identify exactly where each portion is taken from, within the actual document.  I intend to post at least one subject per week, beginning Saturday 7/29/17, until I have covered the entire Constitution.  I used law.cornell.edu and heritage.org for most of my research.


Amendment I

"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."

  1. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"- This prevents Congress from passing laws that establish a national religion, which is where we get the oft-referenced idea of the "separation of church and state."  It is the idea that government shall not promote any religion over another, in any way. 
  2. "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"- The free exercise of religion cannot be infringed upon. 
  3. "or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press"- Individuals are free to express themselves without government interference or regulation.  This ensures that people are generally not held accountable, criminally or civilly, for things written or spoken about a person or topic, provided the content is truthful or based on an honest opinion.  Thus we are able to have a free press, capable of operating without fear of unjust censorship.
  4. "or the right of the people peaceably to assemble"- This section explains that people have the right to gather peacefully and lawfully.  The right to association and belief is implicit within this right.  The government has the right to prohibit people from knowingly associating with groups engaging and promoting illegal activities. 
  5. "and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."- People are guaranteed the right to petition the government for change, on the grounds that they seek relief for a wrong.  This works with the right to assemble, allowing individuals to join together to petition the government. 

Amendment II

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

  1. "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the scrutiny of a free state"- Some legal scholars argue this portion of the second amendment strictly confines the use of firearms to strictly regulated military usage. 
  2. "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."- This passage, however, has been cited in order to uphold individual citizens' rights to own firearms, and use them for self defense, and other lawful uses, such as hunting.  In 2008, the Supreme Court voted 5-4, in favor of protecting individual rights to gun ownership and usage,  in the case of District of Columbia vs Heller.