First Amendment Rights

The heritage of the Anglo-American legal system is Freedom of Assembly, Press, and Speech.

The right of Free Speech began in Parliament where representatives of the people dared to criticize the King. The right to publish without fear of being labeled a criminal arose in Massachusetts when a pamphleteer named Peter Zenger criticized the King’s tax collectors.

The right of Free Assembly evolved because Englishmen often assembled to discuss their political grievances. Although citizen assemblies were tolerated by the government for centuries, the right was not enumerated in the Magna Charta or the English Bill of Rights. The first explicit declaration of the right to assembly without being exposed to the charge of treason appeared in the 1776 Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights.

Throughout his career, Fintan Dooley has served citizens whose disfavored viewpoints are expressed in the public forum and provoke government hostility. Modern censorship is called “speech code” and these are increasingly adopted by schools and universities. These codes infringe upon the First Amendment. With rare exceptions these codes violate the constitutional rights of students.

School officials who sanction students for expressing their religious or political viewpoints are violating the First Amendment.