Liberty and the Freedoms of the First Amendment

What is the purpose and intent of our Constitution? 

Is it to create a rule of law for the people to live under or a means of constraint for government? If you said the latter you are correct. The Constitution was created as means of establishing and as well as constraining the government - NOT THE PEOPLE. 

L-I-B-E-R-T-Y...  

All through the documents that were created during our nations founding years, this word, liberty, resonates more throughout than any others. 

Now let's think about that word for a minute. Liberty. What does it mean? 


1. The quality or state of being free:
  • the power to do as one pleases
  • freedom from physical restraint
  • freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
  • the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
  • the power of choice
In other words, LIBERTY is the freedom to do as we please without interference from the government. Period.  

The Declaration of Independence stated (emphasis is mine):

"...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."

Why were our founders so adamant about including it in Declaration of Independence? There must of been some reason, right? Were they oppressed? They laid out the reasons within the document itself. Take a read. 

We wanted to be a free people. To do as we pleased. Free from the oppression of some overbearing and overreaching government. We wanted Liberty. 

When the Constitution was created and formally formed our government, we find the word Liberty right there in the preamble. It says that one of the many purposes of our new government was to:

"...secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity..."

We wanted freedom for ourselves and our descendants. Wow. That's powerful stuff. 

Remember the general purpose of the Constitution. It was to formally create government and to constrain it so as to keep it from impinging on the freedoms of the people. ALL OF THE PEOPLE.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

The first amendment to our Constitution is one of the most quoted and the most misunderstood. Mostly because it's referred to as the "Freedom of Religion" or "Freedom of Speech" amendment. But, freedom from whom?

In the very first amendment of our Constitution it says, 


"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."


This prohibits Congress from promoting one religion over others and prevents Congress from prohibiting anyone from practicing and exercising their religious beliefs (more on that later). It does not specifically prevent others or any other levels of government from doing such things. That is why they each level of government has their own laws and Constitutions. That's the beauty of the way our government was designed (it's been turned on end since then). It provided a central system, but the legislative power was with the people (from the bottom up) and the US Constitution provides the framework so the States could create their own laws within that construct. 

The first amendment also states:

"Congress shall make no law ... 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."

To abridge means to shorten or limit. In other words, regulate. If the federal government is  not allowed to restrict speech, would this make the FCC rules unconstitutional? Something to think about. 

Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to peaceably assemble or petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

So, the federal government can not limit a peaceful protest. Does this mean that to require permits and permission first would be unconstitutional? Again, think about it. 

Like I stated before, the first amendment and the rest of the Constitution limits and restricts CONGRESS, NOT the people. 

I would like for everyone to think of the breadth and scope of the federal government as it is now and compare it to the intent of the Constitution. Is it still being limited like it should giving the power to the states and the people? Or is it overreaching it's authority and over-regulating?

To regulate is to restrict or control.

There is no freedom or liberty in regulation. 

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