Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Deborah M. Golden
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 First Amendment guarantees a certain level of freedom of speech, religion, association, and access to government throughout the United States. Although it technically applies only to the federal government, it is made applicable to all the state governments (and any subunits of the states) through the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Like all constitutional rights, however, First Amendment rights are not absolute. For example, freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, unless there is indeed a blaze. People in prison are subject to additional limitations since the mere fact they are incarcerated ...