The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
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.
Passed by Congress, along with 11 other amendments, on September 25, 1789, and ratified as one of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution on December 15, 1791, it sits atop our nation’s Bill of Rights.
The First Amendment is the constitutional provision that safeguards the constellation of rights essential to democratic self-government. It protects the right to the free exercise of religion and the right to avoid being coerced by government into holding beliefs on religion. It also protects the freedoms of speech and press, of assembly, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.