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006 What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?

6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*
• Speech • Press
• Religion • Petition the government
• Assembly

Americans have a lot of freedom to say what they want, to believe what they want, and to get the government to do what they want. These and other rights (or freedoms) are found in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees (or protects) freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and the right to petition the government. Let’s talk about each one of these.

Freedom of speech means that American citizens are allowed to say whatever they want to about ideas or people. They can say, for example, that they hate the President, or that they think that some laws are unfair. There are, however, some limitations, or things that are not allowed, and that the law does not protect. For example, people can’t talk about assassinating (or killing) the President of the United States.

Freedom of religion is one of the most important freedoms in the First Amendment. The first Europeans came to North America because they were being persecuted (or attacked as a group) in England because of their religious beliefs. The First Amendment says that Americans can follow any religion, or no religion at all. It protects Americans in their religious practices (or actions related to religion).

Freedom of assembly gives Americans the right to join (or become a member of) any group, political party, club, or organization. You do not need the government’s permission (or approval) to join an organization or to meet as a group.

Freedom of the press is another very important freedom in the United States. “The press” means news organizations, such as newspapers, television stations, radio stations, and websites. These news sources are allowed to say or write whatever they want to, whether it is in support of or against the government or any specific person.

Finally, the right to petition the government means that if the government does something that hurts you, you can complain and try to force the government to fix the problem or give you something in return for the grievance (or the thing that was wrong).


freedom of speech – the right to say whatever one wants to; ability to speak about one’s opinions or beliefs without getting into trouble with the government
* Thanks to freedom of speech, Americans are allowed to say that they don't like what the president does.

freedom of assembly – the right to join and participate in any group or organization and for that group to meet without being in trouble with the government
* Without freedom of assembly, Americans would have to ask the government for permission every time they wanted to meet in groups.

freedom of the press – the right of newspapers, magazines, radio programs, and television stations to write or say whatever they want to without asking the
government for permission
* The U.S. government cannot tell newspapers what to write because that would go against Americans' freedom of the press.

to petition – to ask for something; to formally ask the government (or another person or group with power) for something that one wants
* We're going to petition the Board of Directors to increase the amount that we're paid each hour.

limitation – something that is not allowed or included in a law; the maximum amount of something that is allowed
* This airline's baggage limitation is two bags per person.

to assassinate – to kill a politician or another important person
* How many U.S. presidents have been assassinated?

to persecute – to attack or be mean to a group of people, usually because they are different than other people or because of their beliefs
* During World War II, many Jewish people were persecuted for their religious beliefs.

religious practices – actions related to a religion; the ways that people behave because of their religion
* Because of their religious practices, people who follow this religion do not work on Saturdays.

permission – approval; being allowed to do something
* Students in class have to ask their teacher's permission to go to the bathroom.

grievance – a complaint about something that is wrong; a belief that something is wrong or unfair
* The workers' grievances against the company include not having enough vacation time and not being paid enough.