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On December 15th, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified and become part of the U.S Constitution. These Amendments are important documents created to guarantee human rights, especially citizens of the United States. The most considerable amendment is the first one, “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”, (US Constitution). It protects five basic human rights including free speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. It is said that it is the most important amendment because of two major factors: the foundation of personal liberty, the core of U. S’s Democracy.

Firstly, one of the most valuable and the key of the first Amendment is ensuring the personal liberty of citizens. “Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing in 1945, put it this way: “The very purpose of the First Amendment is to foreclose public authority from assuming a guardianship of the public mind through regulating the press, speech, and religion””, (Abrams, 2017). First, it protects religious freedom by giving citizens the right to believe whatever they trust, to worship any religion, or even atheist. Religion has long become an indispensable thing in human civilization and must not be violated even by the government. Colonists from other countries came to America with diversity reasons- one of them was religious freedom. Especially, in the 17th century, numerous colonists fled England to escape religious persecution while King James I and of Charles I reigned (Baracskay, 2009). Many events related to religion happening in the U.S.A liked national religious establishment that had once dominated colonies in Massachusetts before which courses the appearance of First Amendment. “The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion in two clauses — the "establishment" clause, which prohibits the government from establishing an official church, and the "free exercise" clause that allows people to worship as they please”, (First Amendment Rights, n.d.). Next, the first amendment guarantees the freedom of speech and of the press. Freedom of speech and press are the most important right because they are the foundation for many other rights; they also create the platform for art, academia, and so on. The First Amendment allows citizens to express and to be exposed to a wide range of point of views from popular to unpopular. “Justice Hugo Black, writing in 1961, observed that “the very reason for the First Amendment is to make the people of the country free to think, speak, write and worship as they wish, not as the Government commands”, ( Abrams, 2017). The 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights stated, “The freedom of the Press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments”. Press freedom is a sign of progress and civilization, a very important factor for stability and promoting the development of society. The task of the press is not only a channel of the State to inform policies, laws, and inform all aspects of society's activities to citizens, but also a forum for citizens to express themselves, thoughts, aspirations, and opinions. Since then, people can directly participate in the process of nation-building. The last two rights mentioned here are Freedom of Assembly and Petition. These are key rights to help enforce many civil and political rights, as well as other economic, social, and cultural rights. These two rights are "essential components of a democratic society" because they allow citizens to express political, artistic, economic, and social views. If we have not First Amendment, protest rallies and marches could be forbidden according to official and public.

The second point is the First Amendment being the core of the US's democracy. Why could we claim that? Because the United States is present for democracy. According to Ashutosh Bhagwat claimed in a study in 2016:

The five rights of the Democratic First Amendment—speech, press, assembly, association, and petitioning—are the linchpins of American democracy. They protect and nurture the sort of active citizenship and collective action that has been the lifeblood of our system of government since its founding.

Rossi also said in 2011, "Freedom of speech is said to be the most cherished of our constitutional rights. It is the essence of our democracy". Democracy is a form of government that gives power to the people and the First Amendment does which protects individual rights from government oppression through the intervention of the federal courts. The freedom of expression, press, and the right to petition to the government coming under this amendment are protected by the separation of powers, and the protection of individual rights. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in 2002 that:

First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.

Citizens of the U.S.A are allowed to elect the government and government officials can also call the government to account and take responsibility for their decisions. This is how citizens participate in the process of monitoring and managing the state while demonstrating democratic rights.

Despite First Amendment has a crucial role, it also has a great number of controversies about its practice. The boundary on freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment is quite fragile because many elements take advantage of it to carry out the evil. Therefore, abusing the rights that First Amendment guaranteed is a problem. It has often been at the center of controversy for defending the free speech rights of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. In 1969 the court protected a Ku Klux Klan member decrying Jews and blacks in Ohio. Justice O’Connor announced the judgment:

In this case we consider whether the Commonwealth of Virginia’s statute banning cross burning with “an intent to intimidate a person or group of persons” violates the First Amendment. Va. Code Ann. §18.2—423 (1996). We conclude that while a State, consistent with the First Amendment, may ban cross burning carried out with the intent to intimidate, the provision in the Virginia statute treating any cross burning as prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate renders the statute unconstitutional in its current form.

We could not invoke the First Amendment as a defense to criminal acts such as riotous conduct. The most difficult things are involving either national security or a conflict with other individual rights, and free speech in the digital era. “Freedom of expression" or "Free" to distort, incite anti-government protests and citizens?” is always a question. Nevertheless, First Amendment always has its essential values that could not refute. It has been the backbone of America’s democracy for over 200 years by providing the space for personal liberty. George Washington said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”. It also became guideline for other civil rights movements as the women’s suffrage movements in the mid-19th century. “University of Pennsylvania Professor Robert Richards, author of Freedom’s Voice: The Perilous Present and Uncertain Future of the First Amendment, agreed that “the First Amendment was the key tool of the civil rights movement.”” (Hudson, 2002)

To sum up, after 200 years the First Amendment is still one of the most principal documents. It protects people against government limits on freedom specifically five basic rights. Together, these rights give citizens the privilege to live without censorship, fear, oppression, and discrimination. It is the foundation that makes people of the USA becoming the freest in the world. In addition, First Amendment is also the essence of democracy because liberty is democracy. When people are unable to voice their opinions then tyranny or dictatorship begins. Although I am not a citizen of the United States, I am still grateful to the framers s of the Bill of Rights in general and the First Amendment in particular because of its values. It is not only a valiant unique document about human rights, but also an inspiration for movements in other countries around the world.

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