Women of Washington

Communicating America’s Founding Principles

Women of Washington is an educational organization with a focus on understanding local, national, and global issues that are critical to our world today.


The First Amendment - The Foundation of our Republic 
by Judy Leithe

Take a moment and name the 5 Freedoms guaranteed by our First Amendment to the Constitution. 

The 5 Freedoms are: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of 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."

Chances are this readership did well on this pop quiz, even if we might have forgotten the one about, "freedom to petition the Government."  It is clear to Americans, with a reasonable understanding of history's tyrannical governments, that the authors and signers of the Constitution did not create a government to rule over its subjects from cradle to grave, but one that protects the natural rights of a truly free people. 

There are 17 Enumerated powers of the U.S. Government; they have to do with topics like: collecting taxes; running the post office; and the printing of currency.  The U.S. Constitution was written to protect states (i.e., the people) from an all-powerful government, as stated in the 10th Amendment: 

"The powers not delegated to the United States (government) by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." 

In May, The First Amendment Center, at Vanderbilt University, conducted their annual national survey regarding American's view of the First Amendment.  This relatively small survey of 1,006 adult Americans, garnered considerable press over its findings that, among other data, 36% of Americans could not name even one freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment!  The Center's President, Ken Paulson, stated, "As a nation, we must better prepare our fellow and future citizens for the hard decision of defending core freedoms against those who would damage or limit them by violence or by law."