Briefcase

Briefcase: The First Amendment

With guest Dean Leonard Baynes.

Scales of justice

The Bill of Rights has guaranteed our freedoms and rights for over 200 years. Dean Leonard Baynes with the University of Houston Law Center looks at how they still relate to society today.

“The First Amendment is complex and broad. It covers freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to peaceful assembly, and right of a citizen to petition the government,” Dean Baynes said. “It protects individual democratic and personal rights from government overreach.”

“The First Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights and was ratified in 1791. For over two hundred years, the language of the first amendment has remained the same, but its interpretation has changed in the last 60 years,” Baynes continued. “The First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing a religion, preferring one religion over another or preferring religion over nonreligion.”

“The government may not prohibit the offensive or disagreeable political speech. For example, the court has struck down statutes that criminalize the desecration the U.S. flag. The modern American judicial system has repeatedly re-evaluated the scope and scale of the First Amendment and that reevaluation is likely to continue during the 21st century.”

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