Friday, October 14, 2011

The State of the First Amendment, 2011-2012

The First Amendment to the US Constitution has been in effect since December 15, 1791. It came under heavy challenge as early as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, but remains in effect as of this posting. Its survival depends upon its frequent use.

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.

Through a specified amendment process, The US Constitution was meant to be adaptable to changes in the world. The 1st Amendment ensures that no one religion or religious sect will become the official state religion or sect of the USA; it also ensures both the freedom to establish an organization such as the Church of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church, established 1829-1838) and the freedom to poke fun at such an organization and its adherents -- two of whom (Jon Huntsman, Jr., and Mitt Romney) are running for President of the United States via the 2012 election.

The last two clauses of the  1st Amendment guarantee the basic rights of the "Occupied Wall Street" assemblies around the USA.

Looking around, I'd say the frissons of 2011-2012 show the 1st Amendment to be well intact. No worries there.

As for the overall "health and balance" of the USA itself, that's an open question. Seems to me, it's still more promise than actuality. Abraham Lincoln's "better angels of our nature" are tested daily (as they were by the Confederate secessionists), and will continue to be tested over the long haul. The "mystic chords of memory"* may yet get us through, but I wouldn't count on it without the help of considerable effort. What do you think?

*(Source: Lincoln's 1st Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861).

Today's Movement: Partnership.


goatman said...

I am the eternal optimist -- have to be.
May take destruction and rebuilding but good will win out. Earth time is in millions of years!

Charles Gramlich said...

The "better angels" only seem better when they are being watched steadily.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks for the comments, G-Man and Charles ~~ cheers ~~