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April 11, 2020

OPINION/By JoLynn Live

The First Amendment to the 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.” 

Simply put, our First Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and the right to petition.

As US citizens, we have unalienable rights that are not up for debate.  With the exception of a felony, no court, no governor, no mayor, not even the President of the United States, can simply take these rights away without Martial Law being implemented. If the mayor is the chief executive in that city, the mayor can take extraordinary measures, during a state of emergency including a stay sheltered order, provided the order is not overly broad. In order to execute this, a State of Emergency has to be declared.

What if the appearance is overly broad and in many cases inconsistent?  What if mayors use their executive powers to allegedly target certain groups over others such as church meetings in the parking lot vs going to the store for necessities? During this Coronavirus scare, President Trump never mandated staying home, he only cautioned us. In his press releases, he has implied that our Constitution is the rule of law.

What if these other public servants, not Congress but your Governor or your Mayor, sign an executive order overriding your 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion, freedom of assembly or your right to pursue life, liberty and happiness?  What if your mayor instructed police officers to ticket and fine you, or even arrest you for exercising your 1st amendment right? What do you do?

Just like we have the right to assemble, we also have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  Perhaps this is our next step. 

APRIL 10, 2020