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A Letter to My Students On First Amendment Rights

Dear Students,
You have – or will soon learn about – the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. Adopted just prior to Christmas 1791 as the first part of the Bill of Rights, it reads:
“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.”
The question you’re probably pondering is – “why the heck should I care about this 225-year-old compound-complex sentence?”
Let’s put behind us that every Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) hears a 1st Amendment case in just about every term. (Though I can’t find statistics to support this, it’s probably the most tested portion of the Constitution). Let’s also forget that certain states wouldn’t sign the Constitution without some guaranteed rights that others promoted as almost overtly-too-obvious. Let’s also put behind us that, as students, your First Amendment rights are not as uniform and universal as those of adults.
Let’s instead focus on why the reasons we can provide for hating the First Amendment are the exact reasons we need it – now and forever.

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