In our continuing celebration our Freedomâs during the month of Independence, today we take a look at the right to petition for your beliefs.
A part of the first amendment, âthe right to petition government for redress of grievancesâ gives American citizens the right to complain to, or seek help, from the government with the fear of reprisal or punishment.
Originally intended to only cover Congress and the US Federal courts, it was later expanded to all state and federal courts and legislatures, as well as the executive branch. The right to petition clause was already entrenched in English legal heritage, but under King George, it was not being extended to the Colonists.
âFor more than a year, the Americans had sent petitions to England proclaiming their grievances against the British government. Colonists even appealed to the British people, pleading with them to elect different members of Parliament who would be more open to compromise. But the âBritish brethrenâ refused to do this.â
Throughout the history of the United States, the courts have repeatedly confirmed and propped up this right, as the following legal cases show.
Thornhill v. Alabama (1940)
The Supreme Court held that orderly union picketing that informs the public of the issues is protected by the constitutional freedom of speech and of the press and the right of petition and peaceable assembly and cannot be prosecuted under state loitering and picketing laws.
United States v. Harriss (1954)
The Supreme Court upheld the authority of Congress to require certain lobbyists to register.
Brown v. Louisiana (1966)
The Supreme Court reversed the convictions of five black individuals who participated in an orderly and peaceful sit-in at a local branch library to protest segregation at the library. The court protected their right of petition and freedom of assembly.
To learn more about the history and development of the right to privacy, HumanRights.com explains its origins in the Magna Carta though today.
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