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Free Speech ... IS an American Value

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Free Speech ... IS an American Value
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The First Amendment


"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 is one of the most cited amendments of the United States Constitution.  The concepts of freedom of religion, speech, press, and peaceable assembly are at the core of our democracy.

Consider starting a discussion by asking the group their intitial reactions to or thoughts about the First Amendment. What seem to be the differences in their opinions toward the amendment? Are most supportive, cynical, or somewhere in between? Take note to see if anyone realizes that the very fact that they are able to sit and discuss whether or not the First Amendment is important (and to indirectly criticize the government) is a right granted to them by the First Amendment itself.

The focus of this guide will be freedom of speech, and also freedom of the press, which is very closely related.  Freedom of religion differs enough in subject to merit a guide of its own.  The fact that the First Amendment can be separated into different guides is another sign of its importance to civic education.