First Amendment? Utah Needs A Refresher Course

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.

Last week, prosecutors in Salt Lake City, Utah filed misdemeanor charges against thirteen gay-rights activists. The protesters exercised their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and now they could be going to jail for one count each of disrupting a meeting or procession which carries a maximum six month sentence.

The activists were arrested in February after staging a sit-in, blocking access to the governor’s office and a Capitol meeting room. They hoped that by doing so the legislators would move on a bill that bans discrimination of LGBT people in housing and employment matters. The bill even exempted religious organizations.

Instead of accomplishing their goal (which 72% of Utahns support) they were jailed. Meanwhile the Republican dominated legislature once again delayed the bill.

There is something wrong when a group of concerned citizens are arrested and charged with a crime for exercising an unalienable right granted to them by the Constitution. I know that Republicans are used to cherry picking which laws they follow, but this is the Constitution we are talking about, not the Bible.

The prosecutors in Utah obviously need a constitutional rights refresher course. I’m singling out Utah right now, but this is a widespread problem. Every time (except when it’s the Tea Party, of course) a group of citizens stand up and tries to fight for what they believe in, we see people taken to jail. Is this really America? What happened to freedom?

What do we have if we do not have the right to redress our grievances with the government? Why even bother with a Constitution if our rights are going to be denied?

As for Republicans, isn’t it ironic that the party who ‘worships’ our Constitution ignores it for political gain most of the time?



2 comments for “First Amendment? Utah Needs A Refresher Course

  1. rose hall
    August 31, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    the nazi fascist party of NO (repugs) are finishing the job of the Kock brothers and their father and grandfather started. The Kock brothers grandfather got his money from backing Hitler. Supplying Hitler with material Hitler needed to build the machines for killing the American service and women and our Allies. In fact he spent most of his time in Germany with Hitler during war. Grandfather Kock wanted America to join Hitler because he thought Hitler had the right idea about the people in the countries he was invading. Kill most of them and the rest held as slaves. This is what the nazi fascist party of NO (repugs) want a third world nation.

  2. Michael Morrison
    September 1, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    This is a terrible argument you are making here. The First Amendment is not unlimited. There are reasonable restrictions on how you can worship (human sacrifice would be a crime,) there are reasonable restrictions on speech (you cannot slander a private citizen or yell “fire” in a crowded theater,) and there are reasonable restrictions on the “right to peaceably assemble. You cannot block public access for the roads, sidewalks, and to keep people going and coming from their job.

    If the repugnant Wesboro Baptist Church decided to have a protest in my hometown, their right to “peaceably assemble” does NOT trump my right to use the roads that MY tax dollars helped to build. Likewise, a group of liberal gay people’s rights to “peaceably assemble,” does not trump the rights of elected officials to get to their offices in order to run government. No matter how repugnant those officials are.

    Listen. I support gays’ rights to marry. The government has no business interfering with our private lives that hurts nobody. And particularly, the government certainly cannot pass laws restricting private decisions, based on religious argumentation. That, alone, is a violation of the First Amendment. (Why we are even having such a discussion in this nation is beyond me.) But people cannot be causing disruption to the running of government and/or society. That is why they were arrested for “disorderly conduct,” and why it is not a violation of their First Amendment rights.

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