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Rights and Freedoms

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The most relevant freedom within the First Amendment is the freedom of speech. The law guarantees that Americans freely say what they wish to say, and supports the freedom of speech. Despite the fact, I know certain cases in the U.S. when this right has been violated, though people here are not usually prosecuted for speaking out their mind in public. The case is the one of the former U.S. marine Brandon Raub, who served in Iraq, came back to the States, retired, and developed the idea that the U.S. government does not do enough for Americans. This criticism was the background of his arrest and subsequent placement to the rehabilitation hospital. Yet, the violation of freedom of speech fixed in the First Amendment is not typical.

Thanks to freedom of speech, many people fight for their rights and achieve success. I actually mean various activity groups that wish to change something in the U.S. society; thanks to freedom of speech, they say what they want and form the opinion of masses. Justice Brandeis added to the jurisprudence of the First Amendment in Whitney v. California, “Freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth” (Nichols, 2009, p.8). Probably, that was why the freedom of speech got the highest rating among other freedoms in two surveys back in 1997 and 1999. When asked what rights and freedoms that are provided by the U.S.  Constitution were the most important for the U.S. society, half of all respondents in both surveys said it was the freedom of speech (Yalof & Dautrich, 2002).

To add, this freedom is what the U.S. journalists benefit from greatly along with the freedom of press. It means that there is always room for criticism and, therefore, improvement. Reporters are not prosecuted or killed for exposing some unknown things about key politicians to public. All in all, this right promotes respect in people and protects journalists to a great extent. This is especially evident if to compare the U.S. and other countries, for example, Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, Pakistan, Mexico, or Honduras.  Michael Rediske, a representative of the German organization of Reporters Without Borders acknowledges that in the States and in the European Union, freedom of speech and freedom of press may get violated in specific cases (for example, the police crackdowns  on the Occupy movement). At the same time, he says these violations stand small against the background of serious violations in two-thirds of the world countries today (Muller, 2012). Rediske provides the following examples: in Eritrea dozens of journalists stay in prison, the others fled the country; many journalists get killed in Russia, for example Anna Politkovskaya back in 2006, as well as in Pakistan. In Honduras and Mexico, which are the countries hosting drug cartels, journalists get threatened not to write about how military fight these cartels (Muller, 2012). 

As for the significance of the Bill of Rights along with the subsequent amendments to the Constitution for the American democracy, it may not be disputed. When the Constitution got ratified in 1787, some issues remained unresolved and were contested by numerous politicians. The Bill of Rights comprises ten amendments to the Constitution. The amendments that make up the Bill of Rights got their name in 1791. They were termed the Bill of Rights. The role of the Bill of Rights in the development of the U.S. democracy is crucial. The amendments have helped to form the democratic culture and the American psychology, as well as to regulate the government policies and application of law.  The ratification of the Bill of Rights has been seen as an expression of people’s power to alter their rights and address once again important issues. The final draft contained the concept of “natural right”, which empowered people to possess property, address issues related to liberty of religion, of possession, and life, etc.

Finally, I would like to discuss whether the process of amending the Constitution is fair. Based on current academic sources, it may not be called the fair one. Even more, it is believed to be seriously flawed and undone. The primary rule for legitimacy of any amendments and possibility of legitimization is based on recognition of the power of Congress. After the amendment is offered, three-fourths of several states’ convention is required. Yet, conventional ratification has been used just once throughout the history. Amendments are generally ratified by “voting in state legislatures” (Amending the Constitution).  This evidently contradicts the theory of making amendments. So, the process appears to be flawed, indistinct, and not that reliable.

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