The First Amendment allows the people of the United States
to voice unpopular opinions, preventing tyranny by the majority
. It also allows people to assembly peaceable and allows the press to report fact and voice opinion without prior restraint. If we cannot petition our government
for the redress of grievances we risk the hardening of a permanent majority into a self-enforcing bureaucracy.
Thomas Jefferson once said that if forced to choose between government without newspapers
, and newspapers without government, he wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter. Assembly, the exchange of ideas, and understanding the actions of society keep us free, and are why the press was intended to be a de facto fourth branch of government.
"Free Speech is the right to yell, "Theater
!" at a crowded fire
- Abbie Hoffman, radical, describing the First Amendment