MOUNT VERNON — The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution affords the right to worship as one chooses and the right for strippers to peacefully protest outside a church. Wednesday night Knox County Assistant Prosecutor Chip McConville explored the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to assemble.
“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 of government for a redress of grievances,” the First Amendment states.
“These short, few words give us some of the most important rights that we have as Americans,” McConville said. “There has been a great deal of judge-made case law that flushes out just what this part of the Constitution means.”
The writers of the U.S. Constitution knew it was important to protect the freedoms of speech, press and to peacefully assemble — that importance was proved in placing these rights in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“Political liberty and political speech is the basis upon which democracy was built,” he said. “Political speech was hampered in the colonies, and in Great Britain, by the crown.”
At that time, one needed a license from the King giving authority to publish newspapers or work in specific professions.