Column: Will We Protect Our Right to Protest?

In an America bitterly divided over protests and politics, the least familiar part of our Constitution’s First Amendment may be the most endangered: the right to peacefully protest. That right is guaranteed in the last 18 words of the amendment, which say Congress shall make no law abridging “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The 14th Amendment makes that apply to states too. Most Americans affirm and actively exercise the First Amendment’s right of free speech. Many Americans swear by the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. But “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”? We’re less certain about that one. Pew Research Center this month reported a decline in how many Americans say “it is very important for the country that people are free to peacefully protest” — from 74 percent two years ago to 68 percent now. Pew said the decline has come entirely among Republicans: “Only about half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (53 percent) say it is very important for the country that people are free to peacefully protest, while 33 percent say this is somewhat important; 13 percent say it is not too or not at all important. Two years ago, 64 percent of Republicans said that it was very important that people are free to protest peacefully.” Ponder that for a moment. Barely a majority of those Americans say it’s […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.