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First Amendment: The Right to Get Together

Americans are allowed to gather peacefully.

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“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.”

Freedom of assembly does not get as much attention as the other rights in the First Amendment, but it is still important. The right of people to gather together is essential in a free society, so people can talk about issues and even hold protests.

Freedom to Assemble

The First Amendment gives “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” This makes sure that the government cannot stop groups it disagrees with from meeting.

Americans can use their shared voices to change public opinion. It also allows them to protest things they think are wrong. Many different movements have shaped American politics and culture; this is usually done when groups of people assemble to share a message. Black Americans in the Civil Rights era often met to protest against Jim Crow laws, which kept black and white Americans separate.

The Founders included freedom of assembly in the Bill of Rights because people were not allowed to gather for political causes under British rule. This was because King George III did not want people to share their views against his rule.

Assembly in America

The government cannot stop a public assembly simply because it dislikes the message, but it can limit the event’s time and location.

Like King George, many governments today do not let their citizens meet in large groups to share a political message. Some nations use violence to stop even peaceful assemblies. This is one more reason Americans should be grateful for the freedoms in our Bill of Rights.

Jeff Charles

Race Relations & Media Affairs Correspondent at and A self-confessed news and political junkie, Jeff’s writing has been featured in Small Business Trends, Business2Community, and The Huffington Post. Born in Southern California and having experienced the 1992 L.A. Riots up close and personal, Jeff’s insights are informed by his experiences as a black man and a conservative.

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