Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jane E. Kirtley
In only 45 words, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1791 along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, guarantees the American people a free press, as well as freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and the right to petition the government. 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. Although written in absolute terms (“Congress shall make no law”), the Supreme Court of the United States has never interpreted the First Amendment to prohibit every kind of government regulation of news media. Nevertheless, it has recognized a strong presumption against government attempts to restrict the exercise of any First Amendment right. This means that the government ...