Category Archives: Right to Petition

Dakota Access Pipeline & First Amendment

Written in the Bill Of Rights under the 1st amendment is freedom of speech. Included in this freedom of speech is, the right to have freedom of the press, and freedom of peaceable assemblies. Reporters see this as their right to give news reports on what they call the truth, but the government sees it as rioting and as of late, has been putting these reporters in jail or giving out tickets for trespassing. The North Dakota Access Pipeline as of late has been a very hot and controversial issue in our nation. It was a very big topic regarding our debates and president elections back in 2016. With Trump in control, we are likely to see this pipeline passed and built. This has gotten people all across the country riled up. Many people have traveled nationwide to protest in the Dakotas. Saying that it is land we owe to the SIoux and it is unavailable to build on.  Others think it is better for our economy and will lead to more jobs. Being one of the biggest controversies in our country right now, we also have the debate whether or not it infringes on the rights of the first amendment.  Part of that first amendment is, freedom of the press, the right to be protected as press for your work. As long as that work is not ‘fake news’. News teams have been going on to private land and giving reports on the pipeline and their protests. Some of these reports have given certain reporters a ticket from the police or even a spot in jail. The reason behind this is that they are trespassing on someone else’s land. The question behind this all is are they giving these reports unwarranted as a ‘rioting-like protest’  response to Trump’s new order or simply just doing news coverage.

I am neutral on this discussion, though. I believe that the pipeline was a good decision passed by President Trump and it will benefit our nation in many ways. I do not think the protesting by citizens will do anything though and all it is is a waste of their time. From the standpoint of the press vs. the government, I see both sides. The press is, in a way, protesting by giving these stories as most often given from the negative side of the pipeline, leaving out the possibilities the pipeline has to offer. This is seen by the government a form of protesting, falling under the category of rioting, which results in a ticket or if necessary, jail. To avoid the problems for both sides of the argument, reporters can give news on public land and give news more neutralized. Staying off private land avoiding the ticket, and making all sides happy by delivering news that is equalized.

Burn Baby Burn

Is the burning of the American Flag protected by the first amendment freedom of speech, or is it seen as obscenity? Burning of the American Flag, or any flag, is seen as a way to protest your government, and tell them that they are doing a bad job. This argument just got re-ignited recently due to Trump being elected as president and he threatened, “ loss of citizenship or a year in jail!” if you were caught burning the flag. This issue has been challenged multiple times in the U.S Supreme Court. Once  In the 1989 case “Texas V Johnson” and again in 2005 when Clinton tried to pass the Flag Protection act.

People feel very strongly against flag burning as you can see here. People, including the president, love the first amendment (freedom of speech to be exact), but burning of the flag is often seen as a whole different idea. A lot of citizens take the burning of the flag as a way to disrespect all of the countless lives that were lost defending the flag. Others argue that you are abusing freedom of speech by burning an object that gives you that right in this country. Finally, my personal opinion is that the flag is seen as a sacred object to the U.S and it should be illegal. You shouldn’t be thrown in jail, just get a huge fine for burning the flag.

On the other side, it is protected under the first amendment freedom of speech. The burning of the flag has been tested twice in court and 2 laws have tried to have been passed to outlaw the burning. In 1989, the case of “Texas V Johnson” occurred. The supreme Court ruled 5-4 that flag burning was a form of “symbolic speech” which was protected by the First Amendment. Gregory Johnson was convicted by a Texas court of violating  state law that didn’t allow “ desecration of a venerated object” . The next year, another case came up. “United States v Eichman”, where again the Supreme Court affirmed the right to burn the Flag. In 1989 George H Bush tried to pass Flag Protection Act and it was ruled unconstitutional. Again in 2005 Hilary Clinton tried to pass another Flag Protection Act and it too was denied. Many argue that if you make flag burning illegal, where does it stop? It could destroy our democracy.

In conclusion, this is a very debatable subject where people feel strongly on both sides.  Burning the flag is seen wrong by many, but it is protected by our own constitution, and it is hard to argue against that. Ask yourself, what would you do to protest?