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.First Amendment to the US Constitution
There are six aspects to this Article of the Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law:
- respecting an establishment of religion
- prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]
- abridging the freedom of speech
- abridging the freedom of the press [media]
- abridging the right of the people peacefully to assemble
- abridging the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances
All of these things are limits to what Congress could do. The Courts and the Executive Branch (President) can’t do these things either, because the limits on their powers were already set. The 14th Amendment applied these to the States – not to the State legislatures but to the entire government. Therefore to all of the local governments in those States. (These are considered to be instrumentalities of the State, which is unitary and apparently cannot be a federation.)
Therefore, NO government official or body (state or local) can take these rights away. Not even, as courts have decided, from felons in prison.
Yet in the past six weeks, we have seen officials, often without even the pretense of a legislative act by their state legislatures, steal EACH AND EVERY ONE of these precious liberties from people. In violation not just of THIS provision of the Constitution, but their own State Constitution.
People have been:
- accused, charged, and arrested (or ticketed) with the “crimes” of trying to continue to worship in accordance with their own beliefs, both an attempt to criminalize their religion (the obverse of the “establishment” coin) AND prohibit their free exercise. The threat has been made to even permanently close religious houses of worship.
- stopped by officials, under “color of law,” from speaking publicly and privately, about certain things. And stopped from being able to publish certain things in a public manner, hardcopy or electronic.
- denied the right to assemble peacefully in many venues, by closing of businesses, public spaces, and institutions. For many purposes: religious and educational, commercial and social, recreational and political.
- denied the right of petition, de facto. The above led to this, through creating onerous burdens to petition, and actively discouraging such petitions. To say nothing of ignoring them.
Governments are now coordinating with private entities to increase this theft of freedom. Actually, the governments have CONSPIRED with these NGOs and businesses AND other governments (inside and outside the Fifty States) to deny these fundamental, God-given rights.
- The mainstream media, universities, and other religious groups work hand in glove with government to outlaw (some) religions. To deny free exercise, in cancelling rentals and leases, blocking access, and actively attacking religious groups.
- Cellular companies assist (voluntarily, for money, or under pressure in fear) reporting “illegal” assemblies and limiting communications (thus hampering free speech and a free press). As does the media by their harassing and biased, lie-filled, reporting. Thus abusing their rights to abuse others’ rights.
- Entertainment and social media companies have joined (at the request of) government to censor communications to prevent assembly and petitioning of government. (Why? Is it due to some pressure of threats or for their own aggrandizement? But it is the action, not the motive, that is critical.)
It is clear that this is being done with the tacit approval of the FedGov. With the active encouragement and collaboration of parts of ALL three branches.
- The courts have often refused to restrain governments despite clear illegal (unconstitutional) actions, instead claiming grounds of “expediency” because it’s an “emergency.” Courts continue to delay action – through justice delayed is justice denied. Indeed, courts are refusing to even act sometimes, claiming that they must obey the orders of elected but now self-appointed dictators.
- The majority of the House of Representatives, and a strong minority of the Senate, clamor their support for this tyranny. Even more, demand that the President become MORE of a tyrant. (Even after and while they scream about his abuse of powers, claiming he wanted to be a dictator, even a king.) And the majorities AND minorities of both those chambers have refused to take action to fulfill their oaths to defend and preserve the Constitution which includes these rights.
- The President has not acted to enforce the laws and act against the lawless rebellion of the various States and local governments – for their actions are a violation of the Constitution and therefore of law. (Although he may be working behind the scenes; his recent encouragement of legitimate rebellion in some States is at least something.) He has not even condemned the denial of these freedoms in cases where the evidence is overwhelming and the very law enforcement officers themselves are part of the cabal stealing rights.
- Although the Department of Justice has threatened legal action, the Attorney General has YET to actually do so. The most recent example? The public confession of the Governor of New Jersey admitting he ignored the First Amendment. (It should have resulted immediately in the Federal District Attorney for New Jersey in court for an arrest warrant on charges of violating his oath of office (and treason and conspiracy.)
- Worse, the “Deep State” within the executive branch works to promote, encourage, and provide “justification” for the theft of liberty. For example, they allow (and support) those units of the National Guard (federalized but remaining under opcon of the governors) to carry out the illegal orders.
Altogether, we must conclude that the First Amendment, for now at least, is a dead letter, and will NOT be enforced in most of the Fifty States.
And the only way it might be restored will be for more and more citizens to rise up in legitimate rebellion for the same reasons our forefathers did in 1776.