First Amendment Petition Clause

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Under the United States Constitution, the first amendment protects the American right to petition the government for redress of grievances. In the Declaration of Independence, Congress included American’s list of grievances toward the British government. American colonies repeatedly requested relief from these said grievances such as taxation without consent, or the prevention of people elected rulers, but they were only met with more restrictions. One of the main reasons this right is so important was because the United States’ first Congress wished to address these issues so future Americans could petition the government without a cause for more repercussions.

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Previously the right to assemble was held at a higher regard than that of petitioning for it seemed conclusive that there was not a petition without an assembly but now the freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition hold independent significance from one another. Despite its lesser judicial acknowledgement, the right to petition is still protected by the fourteenth amendment’s clause of protection against state infringement due process.

The right to petition Congress for redress of grievances without punishment has also been acknowledged as one of the many privileges to American life. Our Founding Fathers gathered that this was an extremely important clause to establish as it separated America’s government from that of their previous one, under King George III and Parliament. The right to petition also encompasses other rights of the first amendment such as that of free speech and assembly. People are therefore able to form groups or use a variety of communications to get their message across to the government with these two beneficial additions. This right is incredibly useful as it has been ruled by the courts to apply to both state and local governments. A citizen as well can petition any branch in the federal government if it’s by proper submissions or follows appropriate procedures. This right furthermore distinguishes the United States from Great Britain because the colonies were now able to question what they felt were governmental injustices without fear negative consequences.

In early English history there have been many instances where people were imprisoned simply because they pointed out to the government an issue they felt was unjust. Until the signing of the Magna Carta, a list of sixty-three clauses to limit King John’s capabilities in 1215, the monarchy had absolute power. Though these clauses didn’t give all rights to the people, the subjects of King John during this time set the tone for how future rulers should be allowed to govern. James Madison drew from this establishment and proposed the Freedom to Petition Clause in 1789 that later became accepted and ratified by Congress and the states. Now a case such as NAACP v. Button, can be established as just in accordance with the NAACP, where in which the Supreme Court ruled according to the petition clause to allow a civil rights’ group to participate in public interest indictment. Moreover, though the right to petition for redress of grievances is overlooked in comparison to the other first amendment freedoms, it is an important inalienable right because it encouraged colonists to speak up for what they found to be unjust.

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First Amendment Petition Clause. (2019, Sep 07). Retrieved from