Law in society is best understood as an endeavor – a living institution performing social tasks. The legal order is more than a system of norms or rules. It is also a set of agencies responding to social needs, pressures, and aspirations. In most human interaction, people have to accept the risk that others will not do what is expected of them. Some expectations are formally recognized and can be the basis of claims of rights. Buchanan (2010, par. 2) averred that the First Amendment “was written because at Americas inception, citizens demanded a guarantee of their basic freedoms”. As a “blueprint for personal freedom and the hallmark of an open society, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition” (Buchanan, 2010, par. 3).
In this regard, this essay is written to proffer at least one Supreme Court case of significance related to three of the provisions of the First Amendment. In addition, the rights and responsibilities that the Constitution provides an individual as an American citizen would be evaluated. These issues would be discussed in terms of the rationale for determining the need to discuss each case to be heard and interpreted by the Supreme Court. Finally, the essay would determine how the Supreme Court’s decision in each case continues to affect the rights of American citizens today.
The First Amendment clearly and explicitly stipulated rights pertinent to speech, assembly and religion. Buchanan presented these provisions in concise and abstracted terms, as quoted to wit: “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” (Buchanan, 2010, par. 1).
The Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia, U.S. (1995, 1) is an example of a Supreme Court