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Understanding the First Amendment of the Constitution

Out of the 10 amendments in the original Bill of Rights, the First Amendment is often cited as the most important. It includes basic rights of religion and expression that all Americans are entitled to have.

Namely, the First Amendment gives Americans freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly and petitioning of the government.

This is the exact wording of the First Amendment as it is written in the U.S. Constitution:

“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.”

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

It is important to note here that the First Amendment protects citizens’ rights only from the government. For example, American citizens have the right to speak freely, and the government cannot prosecute them, silence them or punish them for anything they say. The First Amendment, however, does not protect citizens from their fellow citizens or other groups.

Freedom of Religion

Where religion is concerned, the First Amendment effectively makes it illegal for the government to create a law that establishes one religion or promotes one religion over others. It also prevents the government from forming laws that stop people from practicing their religion freely.

Freedom of Expression

Where expression, speech and free writing are concerned, the First Amendment effectively makes it illegal for the government to create a law that stops anyone from saying or writing what they please. Similarly, the press may print whatever they want. When citizens are unhappy with the government, they also have the right to peacefully demonstrate or assemble and petition the government for change.

First Amendment Issues

Naturally, there are many concerns with freedom of expression, and the judicial system has no shortage of cases that question whether or not a specific case is supported by the First Amendment or not. Likewise, many individuals and groups may call on the government to ask that certain individuals be silenced because of hateful speech; however, it’s important to note that the First Amendment goes a long way in protecting speech such that even hateful speech is generally protected.

History of the First Amendment

To fully understand the First Amendment, we need to go back to the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776, and on July 4 of that same year, the document was read aloud at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jefferson had been asked to pen the declaration and base it upon a document called the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was drafted at George Mason earlier that year. Later, when the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were created, the authors would rely heavily on themes and values from the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

After the Revolutionary War was won against the Kingdom of Great Britain, Congress decided to rewrite the Articles of Confederation, which had been the country’s original constitution, drafted in 1777. To do this, Congress brought colonial delegates together at the Constitutional Convention to discuss and rewrite the way that the country would operate.

The United States Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788, but not everyone in the country was happy with it. Most importantly, Anti-Federalists like Patrick Henry and George Mason did not want a strong central government, so they fought to put in a Bill of Rights, which would give more rights to individuals.

By the end of the Constitutional Convention in 1788, the Constitution as the document was produced and ratified without a Bill of Rights. The Federalists managed to convince the Anti-Federalists that all powers that the federal government did not have as outlined specifically in the Constitution would automatically lay in the hands of states and individuals. They also said that if changes needed to be made in the future, they could be made as amendments to the original Constitution.

In fact, this is what happened. In 1789, 10 new amendments were added to the Constitution, and just as the Anti-Federalists had wanted, these 10 amendments outlined specific individual rights for the people. Collectively, the 10 amendments were called the Bill of Rights. The first of these amendments is the First Amendment that protects freedom of speech, religion, the press, assembly and the petitioning of the government.

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