(Episode 14) 1st Amd. (Part 3/3): Oh, Crumbs: The Rights to Petition and Assembly
Happy New Year, listeners! We're wrapping up our discussion of the First Amendment with the petition and assembly clauses: that Congress "shall make no law" which inhibits "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
While the "speech" portion was probably the most well-known part of the First Amendment, the rights to petition and assembly are often forgotten - by most Americans and, when it comes to case law on the subject, by SCOTUS. Instead, discussions of assembly and petition end up grouped together under "speech" even though they're separate and distinct rights.
What comes to mind when you think of the right to assembly? Protest? Marches? The freedom to associate with like-minded people?
And how about the right to petition? You probably though of the Declaration of Independence right away (great thought). Does this right really mean much today? And let's say you bring some kind of petition - do you have any right to receive a response to it?
Join us while we pick up the leftover crumbs of the First Amendment.
(BONUS. Here's a fantastic summary of the rights protected by the First Amendment, if you think of them as a kind of life cycle: "The careful order of the six ideas replicates the life-cycle of a democratic idea: born in a free mind protected by the two Religion Clauses (which are viewed today by the Supreme Court as protecting secular as well as religious conscience); communicated to the public by a free speaker; disseminated to a mass audience by a free press; collectively advanced by freely assembled persons; and presented to the government for adoption pursuant to petition.")
Some more sources:
-Beyond Speech and Association, by John Inazu
-Before Freddie Gray: A Timeline of American Unrest;
-Sam's plug for why the Oxford Comma (and all grammar) matters;