| We the People do ordain and establish this|
|Standards of review|
|Other legal theories|
|Defining moments in law|
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
Parsing the First Amendment
- Freedom of assembly
- Right to petition for a redress of grievances (i.e. the right to take somebody to court)
The exact wording of the First Amendment only restricts the lawmaking powers of Congress; as originally implemented, it put no such restrictions on the lawmaking powers of the States. Virginia, for example, still had an official State religion for several years after the First Amendment was ratified. However, modern interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment frequently extend the Constitutional limits on lawmaking power to the States as well. This is called "incorporation."
All of the various clauses of the First Amendment have been incorporated against the states by the Supreme Court. The first to be incorporated was freedom of speech in 1925, in Gitlow v. New York, and the most recent was the right to petition for redress of grievances in 1996, in Romer v. Evans.