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Right To Petition The Government Amendment

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How Is It Done

First Amendment: Assembly and Petition (Advanced Level)

At The Sanders Firm, P.C., we work with those in the New York City area who want to exercise their right to petition to redress for grievances. There are various ways to utilize this basic right. Here are some examples of how citizens work towards instituting change.

The right to petition is often done today by organizations, individual citizens, and professional lobbyists. It takes many forms, including the introduction of bills into state and government legislatures that have first been created through the efforts of private citizens, organizations and others meetings in which people speak with representatives of the various branches of the government to address social, political, and other such issues and causes, and through the courts through various cases such as those focusing on substantive due process.

The right to petition may also be undertaken, as it has at different times in the past, to redress grievances related to civil rights. In our recent history, this has included rights related to same sex marriage and health benefits for same sex couples. Environmental, health, hunger, and many other issues have also been brought to the forefront through this process. In essence, this right to petition is related to freedom of speech.

A Brief History Of The First Amendment Right To Petition Government

Kathy Goldschmidt

Imagine rebuilding Congressâ interactions with the American people in ways that:

  • Embrace and facilitate First Amendment rights
  • Support and enhance Congressâ Article I role in our democracy
  • Inform the legislative process without overwhelming Congress with volume
  • Prioritize substance over quantity
  • Increase the visibility, transparency, and accountability of advocacy and
  • Allow for different channels of communication, with clear purpose and instructions for each.

Congress can build such a system. In fact, it had a robust system that accomplished most of these things during its early years. It was the process guaranteed by the First Amendment right to petition government for a redress of grievances, and managing it was originally Congressâ primary activity. The petition laid the foundation for seminal legislation such as the abolition of slavery and the granting of womenâs suffrage. It is also part of the reason Congress has committees and the reason many government entities, including the Patent and Trademark Office, Bureau of Pensions, Board of Patents, and Interstate Commerce Commission exist.

The New Zealand House of Representatives offers a helpful example of what the petition, as it was facilitated in early America, might look like in modern practice. Commonwealth country parliaments still process petitions much the way Congress used to, but the New Zealand House offers the clearest and most user-friendly example online.

Additional Reading

Rights Of Assembly And Petition

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.


Background and Development

Later cases tend to merge the rights of assembly and petition into the speech and press clauses, and, indeed, all four rights may well be considered as elements of an inclusive right to freedom of expression. While certain conduct may still be denominated as either petition1633 or assembly1634 rather than speech, there seems little question that similar standards will be applied in most cases.1635 For instance, as discussed earlier, where a public employee sues a government employer under the First Amendments Speech Clause, the employee must show that he or she spoke as a citizen on a matter of public concern.1636 In Borough of Duryea, Pennsylvania v.Guarnieri,1637 the Court similarly held that a police chief who alleged retaliation for having filed a union grievance challenging his termination was not protected by the right to petition, because his complaints did not go to matters of public concern.1638

1616 C. Stephenson & F. Marcham, Sources Of English Constitutional History 125 .

1617 12 Encyclopedia Of The Social Sciences 98 .

1618 United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 552 , reects this view.

1624 1918 ATTYGEN. ANN. REP. 48.

1626 92 U.S. 542 .

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The Bill Of Rights: A Transcription

Note: The following text is a transcription of the enrolled original of the Joint Resolution of Congress proposing the Bill of Rights, which is on permanent display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Museum. The spelling and punctuation reflects the original.

On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution. The 1789 Joint Resolution of Congress proposing the amendments is on display in the Rotunda in the National Archives Museum. Ten of the proposed 12 amendments were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures on December 15, 1791. The ratified Articles constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, or the U.S. Bill of Rights. In 1992, 203 years after it was proposed, Article 2 was ratified as the 27th Amendment to the Constitution. Article 1 was never ratified.

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Speech Critical Of The Government

4.8: Court Cases that Interpret Guaranteed Rights

The Supreme Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of any federal law regarding the Free Speech Clause until the 20th century. For example, the Supreme Court never ruled on the Alien and Sedition Acts three Supreme Court justices riding circuit presided over sedition trials without indicating any reservations. The leading critics of the law, Vice President Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, argued for the Acts’ unconstitutionality based on the First Amendment and other Constitutional provisions. Jefferson succeeded Adams as president, in part due to the unpopularity of the latter’s sedition prosecutions he and his party quickly overturned the Acts and pardoned those imprisoned by them. In the majority opinion in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan , the Court noted the importance of this public debate as a precedent in First Amendment law and ruled that the Acts had been unconstitutional: “Although the Sedition Act was never tested in this Court, the attack upon its validity has carried the day in the court of history.”

World War I

Extending protections

The demands of free speech in a democratic society as well as the interest in national security are better served by candid and informed weighing of the competing interests, within the confines of the judicial process.

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Freedom Of Petition Overview

By Adam Newton, Contributing Writer

The right of petition is expressly set out in the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. from the First Amendment

The petition clause concludes the First Amendments ringing enumeration of expressive rights and, in many ways, supports them all. Petition is the right to ask government at any level to right a wrong or correct a problem.

Although a petition is only as meaningful as its response, the petitioning right allows blocs of public interests to form, harnessing voting power in ways that effect change. The right to petition allows citizens to focus government attention on unresolved ills provide information to elected leaders about unpopular policies expose misconduct, waste, corruption, and incompetence and vent popular frustrations without endangering the public order.

Yet the petition clause seems to strike most courts and legal commentators as obvious and uninteresting. While citizens and litigants invoke the First Amendment to secure Internet freedom, undisturbed worship, or a robust press, petitioning rights dont seem to attract much controversy any more.

Some historyOn July 4, 1776, the countrys Founders adopted a famous statement of principles and list of grievances, declaring that:

But the 200 years since belie Henrys mocking denigration of the petition clause.

The Right To Petition Government

Elisia Hahnenberg


To understand the definition of the concept, right to petition government, one must first understand where this concept originates. The right to petition is one of the fundamental freedoms of all Americans, and is documented in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The First Amendment consists of five freedoms, which are: Religion, Free Speech, Free Press, Assembly, and Petition. The Petition section of the first amendment, also commonly referred to as the Petition Clause, states that People have the right to appeal to government in favor of or against policies that affect them or in which they feel strongly. This freedom includes the right to gather signatures in support of a cause and to lobby legislative bodies for or against legislation, . A more simple definition of the right to petition, is the right to present requests to the government without punishment or reprisal. This right is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution .

Historic Roots

Drawing from these historical documents, the framers of the United States Constitution added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution in 1789, which contained the first ten Amendments of the Constitution. James Madison composed the First Amendment, which contains the clause regarding the right to petition government that we refer to today.


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First Amendment: The Right To Petition The Government

U.S. citizens can appeal directly to the government for change.

By: Jeff Charles | November 14, 2019 | Tags: First Amendment, Right to Petition 354 Words

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.

The final right protected by the First Amendment is the freedom to petition the government. The Founding Fathers believed it was necessary for people to have the right to make requests of the government directly.

The Origin Of Petition

First Amendment: Assembly and Petition (Introductory Level)

The word petition is highly related both to the freedom of petition, as well as with the First Amendment in an in-depth sense, for the reason that the word itself is described as follows:

Any method and approach that is ladened on the dimensional tenet of being non-violent, which legally means encouragement or disapproval of any action performed and initiated by the government, as a direct and immediate response to any of the three branches concerned which are the legislative branch, judicial branch and executive branch.

In addition, the petition clause is heavily provided with the following provisions wherein the freedom of petition can be performed, executed and availed by the change maker and purposefully-driven with the following methodologies, approaches and strategies as follows: letter-writing, filing lawsuits, lobbying, supporting the referendum, testifying before tribunals, email campaigns, peaceful protests and picketing, and most importantly, collecting signatures for ballot initiatives.

Furthermore, the entirety of public articulation should revolve around the presentation of complaints, issues and interests as a specified design that will lead to the direction of spurring any action initiated and performed by the government in terms of being qualified greatly, under the constitutional standards and requirements of the petition clause.

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This Is Where Pari Comes In

PARI is both a living journal and an archive. It will generate and host reporting on the countryside that is current and contemporary, while also creating a database of already published stories, reports, videos and audios from as many sources as we can. All of PARIs own content comes under the Creative Commons and the site is free to access. And anyone can contribute to PARI. Write for us, shoot for us, record for us your material is welcome so long as it meets the standards of this site and falls within our mandate: the everyday lives of everyday people.

The use of many libraries and museums in India has fallen, more so in the last 20 years. This was compensated by the fact that what you can find in our museums, you could also find on our streets: the same miniature painting schools, the same traditions of sculpture. Now those too are fading. Library and museum visits amongst the young are more rare than routine. However, there is one place future generations the world over, including Indians, will visit more and more: the Net. Internet access, particularly broadband, is low in India, but it is expanding. It is the right place to build as a public resource a living, breathing journal and an archive aimed at recording peoples lives. The Peoples Archive of Rural India. Many worlds, one website. More voices and distinct languages, we hope, than have ever met on one site.

Free Exercise Of Religion

The Free Exercise Clause offers a double protection, for it is a shield not only against outright prohibitions with respect to the free exercise of religion, but also against penalties on the free exercise of religion and against indirect governmental coercion. Relying on Employment Division v. Smith and quoting from Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah the Supreme Court stated in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer that religious observers are protected against unequal treatment by virtue of the Free Exercise Clause and laws which target the religious for “special disabilities” based on their “religious status” must be covered by the application of strict scrutiny.

To accept any creed or the practice of any form of worship can’t be compelled by laws, because, as stated by the Supreme Court in Braunfeld v. Brown , the freedom to hold religious beliefs and opinions is absolute. Federal or state legislation can’t therefore make it a crime to hold any religious belief or opinion due to the Free Exercise Clause. Legislation by the United States or any constituent state of the United States which forces anyone to embrace any religious belief or to say or believe anything in conflict with his religious tenets is also barred by the Free Exercise Clause. Against this background, the Supreme Court stated that Free Exercise Clause broadly protects religious beliefs and opinions:

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First Amendment To The United States Constitution

This article is part of a series on the

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws that regulate an establishment of religion, or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights was proposed to assuage Anti-Federalist opposition to Constitutional ratification. Initially, the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress, and many of its provisions were interpreted more narrowly than they are today. Beginning with Gitlow v. New York , the Supreme Court applied the First Amendment to statesa process known as incorporationthrough the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Free Press Clause protects publication of information and opinions, and applies to a wide variety of media. In Near v. Minnesota and New York Times v. United States , the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected against prior restraintpre-publication censorshipin almost all cases. The Petition Clause protects the right to petition all branches and agencies of government for action. In addition to the right of assembly guaranteed by this clause, the Court has also ruled that the amendment implicitly protects freedom of association.

Why Do We Need This Right

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Not only does the Petition Clause allow citizens to speak against injustice and wrongdoing, it also gives them the power to affect change. Americans have used this right to push the government in the direction they wanted. The Womens Suffrage movement involved female activists lobbying the state for the right to vote in elections. During the Civil Rights movement, people of all races called on the government to strike down the Jim Crow laws that turned black Americans into second-class citizens.

Americans have the right to call on their representatives, senators, and any other elected leader in the country. The Petition Clause reminds us that the governments role is to serve the people, not the other way around.

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Your Right To Petition The Government

Under the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, citizens of the United States have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Citizens do not lose their Constitutional rights when they become employees of the federal government. Congress has further protected those rights under 5 U.S.C. 7211, which states the right of employees, individually or collectively, to petition Congress or a member of Congress . . . may not be interfered with or denied.

As employee representatives, we are always careful to ensure that we do not ask you to do something that violates law or regulation. We caution employees not to contact Congress using a government computer and not to forward emails asking others to contact Congress to a government email address. This is to make sure employees are fully compliant with anti-lobbying statutes that are arguably applicable to such activities.

Petitioning That Made A Difference

A young girls petition to the president

Petitions help women win the vote

Watch how suffragists made creative use of the right to petition to seek the right to vote for women in a virtual tour of the First Amendment Freedoms: Women Win the Vote exhibit.

Support for this exhibit was provided by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation.

The freedom of petition is featured at the 3:00 mark.

Bridgette Adu-Wadier

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