Introduction to the First Amendment

AuthorRuthann Robson
Robson The First Amendment
Chapter Outline
I. Text
II. The Clauses
A. The Religion Clauses
B. The Free Speech Clause
C. The Press Clause
D. The Assembly Clause
E. The Petition Clause
F. Association: The “Missing” Clause
III. International Perspectives
IV. State Action and Incorporation Against the States
V. History: The Firstness of the First Amendment
VI. Theoretical Perspectives
VII. The Challenges of First Amendment Cases and Controversies
VIII. United States Supreme Court Terms: Recent Cases
2014-2015 Term
2013-2014 Term
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 to peaceably assemble, and to
petition the Government from redress of grievances.
& A.& The&Religion&Clauses&
The religion clauses are two separate but intertwined clauses.
First, the text forbids Congress making laws respecting “an
establishment of religion.” The Establishment Clause - - - more properly
denominated an anti-Establishment Clause or disestablishment Clause,
but routinely called the Establishment Clause - - means at its most
basic that there cannot be a government religion. This is distinct from
many other nations in which there is a national religion, including Great
Britain’s Church of England. More specific meanings of what an
“establishment” of religion might mean have been the subject of

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