No State legislature or the Congress of the United States shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of all media of information; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This general prohibition shall be subject to the following elaborations, extensions, restrictions, limitations, interpretations and conditions:


The Fine Print
With respect to:

 1. An establishment of religion:

a. Generally, all legislation and executive action shall have a secular purpose and primary effect that does not advance, inhibit or cause excessive government entanglement with religion;

b. Religious oaths for public office or employment shall not be administered, nor any religious qualifications required therefor;

c. Traditional prayers in public bodies, such as legislative chambers, not amounting to religious endorsement or indoctrination, shall be tolerated;

d. Public displays, official symbols and expressions and proclamations recognizing the historical origins, practices and observations of religions as part of the Nation's heritage, promoting religion merely in an indirect, remote and incidental manner, shall be allowed;

e. Laws that coincide with religious doctrine or laws passed without undue religious influence, or excessive involvement, shall be valid;

f. Sunday closing laws shall be recognized as having acquired a primarily secular purpose;

g. Public fora and facilities for the exchange of ideas, available for public use, shall not be restricted to the propagation of either religious or secular views;

h. The traditional grant of tax exemption to religious property shall be upheld;

i. Parochial schools at the elementary and secondary levels engaging in substantial religious indoctrination shall not be granted direct governmental assistance in any form, or indirect assistance through grants to students, except where its purpose is clearly secular, separate, and easily segregable from any religious purpose, and the administration of which involves minimal governmental entanglement, or where assistance is provided under the general police power of a State extended to all persons and institutions. But universities and other post-secondary church-related educational institutions may be granted government benefits or assistance towards the construction of segregated facilities unreservedly guaranteed to be used for secular educational purposes only;

j. Direct aid to primary and secondary level parochial school students not provided on the premises of their schools, except public health services which may be given therein, clearly aimed at improving secular education available to all students, including those attending public schools; and income tax deductions for tuition and other educational expenses available to all taxpayers, shall be permitted;

k. Public school facilities shall not be utilized for any overtly or covertly religious or religion-inspired purpose, except that teaching about religion in a historical context in an academically objective manner shall not be proscribed; and school policies and practices shall accommodate, off-premises, the free exercise of religion, by individual students or groups thereof; and

l. Persons directly affected by any claimed breaches of this section shall have standing to complain and request judicial remedies in any State or Federal court having the required jurisdiction.

 2. The free exercise of religion:

a. The freedom to hold or reject, without any coercion, religious beliefs shall be absolute, and the free expression of such beliefs or rejections, and the free exercise of religious practices, shall only be curtailed to the extent that they contravene the free speech restrictions imposed in this article, and other proscribed conduct pursuant to legislation enacted for the protection of basic secular societal, or important or compelling governmental interests, not unduly burdening religion, and not in disharmony with this Constitution. Religious beliefs protected hereunder need not be founded on the claimed existence of God, but must reach beyond mere ideological convictions and political, economic, sociological and other doctrines, however strongly held, based on allegedly rational or scientifically demonstrable considerations;

b. In any judicial proceeding where religious beliefs or practices are in issue, their veracity, logic or comprehensibility shall not be questioned, but the sincerity of a person's belief therein may be decided as a question of fact; and judicial review of intra-church non-secular, doctrinal or other disputes, resolved internally within a church, in good faith, shall not be available; but in cases concerning questions of property law, wherein the final determination depends on secular principles of such law, civil action in Federal and State courts may properly be resorted to;

c. Compulsory formal education of all minor children in schools recognized by a State shall not override reasonable free exercise of religion based challenges offering acceptable alternative modes of education;

d. The exclusive recognition of monogamous marriages by a State shall constitute a proper exercise of its police power, defeating any objections raised under this section;

e. The uniform enforcement of tax laws, including the collection of income taxes on salaries of clergymen, shall not be subject to exemptions due to claims of interference with the free exercise of religion, except where a required religious activity would unreasonably be brought under some general taxing provision, but non-public schools practicing or propagating racial discrimination, even as a matter of sincere religious belief, may be denied all benefits otherwise due under any tax laws;

f. Mere financial loss suffered by adherents of non-Sunday-observing religions shall not be sustained as a discriminatory burden on the free exercise of religion; insubstantial economic loss incurred by a State shall not be sufficient to cause any infringement, however slight, concerning the religious observance of days other than Sundays;

g. Members of the clergy shall not be deprived of their normal rights of citizenship, such as standing for elective office or being appointed to any other public post;

h. Objectors to military service on religious grounds shall be given such full or partial exemption therefrom as the Congress may decide, keeping in mind the paramount interests of the defense and survival of the Nation;

i. Prison inmates shall preserve and have their right to practice their religions respected to the extent that prison discipline and safety requirements are not seriously compromised thereby;

 j. Persons directly injured in their own religious beliefs shall have standing to complain and request judicial remedies in any State or Federal court having the required jurisdiction.

 3. The freedom of speech:

a. The absolute freedom of engaging in or refraining from speech and non-verbal communication, and receiving or refusing to receive information, without any coercion, shall be a rebuttable presumption in any administrative or judicial proceeding, concerning any attempts to abridge them. The onus of rebutting this presumption shall rest entirely on the party seeking such abridgment, by showing that the speech or non-verbal communication sought to be restrained, or the information to be withheld, do not, by virtue of some other conflicting and overriding considerations or necessities, fall within the categories of freedoms that this section is intended to protect;

b. Any Congressional, State, or local legislation or regulation by any governmental authority, which is so imprecise, ambiguous, vague, overbroad, or excessively general in its terms that it provides a pretext for arbitrary or discriminatory law enforcement, uncertainty in the minds of persons of common intelligence as to the limits of protected communication, and creating a chilling effect on the unrestrained exercise of freedoms clearly not proscribed, shall be wholly void on its face; except that insubstantial defects may enable the courts to merely sever unenforceable parts or specific applications thereof;

c. Prior restraint shall not be imposed on any communication by institutionalized or informal censorship or coercion, however subtle, unless, in each instance such restraint is sought, a fair judicial hearing, following proper notice, is held; except where the required delay may cause irreparable harm, upon which a temporary restraining order, subject to a prompt subsequent hearing, may be issued;

d. Maintaining the integrity of the judicial process may validly require in-court and out-of-court curtailments on communication and information to prevent the clear and present probability of serious interference therewith;

e. The free and uninhibited conduct of any electoral process shall not be interfered with, unless the integrity of the process itself is, or appears to be, threatened, or where its integrity is protected or enhanced thereby;

f. In order to maintain the reliability and preparedness of the armed services, restrictions on communications and information likely to reduce the effectiveness of response to command may be justified therein;

g. Inmates of penal institutions and preconviction holding facilities shall retain the freedoms granted herein to the extent that their exercise does not endanger prison security and order, and any limitation imposed, however warranted, shall be in accordance with properly defined and administered procedural safeguards;

h. Public employees or licensees may be required to take such oaths or affirmations as are necessary to obtain their commitment to the lawful performance of their functions, or to make disclosures about themselves, as a condition of their office or employment, that are crucially relevant, lawful, and not repugnant to the letter and spirit of this Constitution;

i. Fighting words that tend to incite immediate violence, offensive speech to a hostile, potentially violent audience, false statements likely to cause panic, disorder and safety hazards, advocacy aimed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to succeed shall not be protected under this section;

 j. Untrue defamatory speech (slander) or other communication (libel) is not protected herein; but the baseless defamation of public officials respecting their official conduct and of public figures respecting matters related to the causes or circumstances of their fame or notoriety, or a public controversy in which they willingly participate, shall, in the absence of malice (requiring communication knowingly false or recklessly disregardful of its truth or falsity), be protected;

k. Sexual conduct described or depicted in a patently offensive manner, lacking serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value, and the dominant theme of which would appeal to the abnormal, prurient sexual interest of the average normal adult person, as determined by the application of contemporary standards of a given relevant geographically circumscribed community, shall be assumed to be harmful to society, and be outweighed by the need to protect the social interest in preserving, or not blatantly offending, recognized, generally approved norms of morality; and in the application of this clause, the corruption of minors, by exposure to obscenity, or their use in its description or depiction, shall be an aggravating factor supporting the denial of the freedoms herein granted. But the foregoing notwithstanding, no law proscribing pornography in any form, except child pornography, shall be made, that invades the personal right of privacy exercised in non-public places;

l. Public property open to the public shall be available for the exercise of freedoms herein granted, subject to reasonable, non- discriminatory, content-neutral regulations serving some significant government interest not otherwise attainable, concerning the orderliness, public safety and convenience, and personal right of privacy aspects. of any such exercise, by determining, on the basis of unambiguous, non-discretionary guidelines and procedural safeguards, the time, place and acceptable manner thereof. Private property open to the public, depending on the extent and exclusivity of its use, and its relevance in the public life of a community, may, subject to judicial determination, be required to partially accommodate the exercise of freedom of communication and information, or even be considered the equivalent of public property open to the public. But in either case, where a total ban on expression is lawfully applied in any public place, or by any medium, assurance of a satisfactory alternative place or medium shall be provided to ensure that such a ban does not result in suppression of the exercise of anyone's right of expression, or a community's right to receive information intended to be conveyed; and in any limitation of or ban on the exercise of such freedoms, the burden of showing just cause will rest entirely on the party seeking to impose it; and

m. Commercial communication primarily concerned with promoting commercial transactions may, in order to serve a substantial government interest, be subjected to reasonable limitations on the grounds of confusing or deceiving the public, or to banning, if false, misleading or otherwise illegal, and the communicator may be required to carry the burden of showing cause why protection under this section should not be withheld.

 4. The freedom of the press:

a. All freedoms and limitations thereof described in the previous section shall apply to all media of information as well;

b. The laws of defamation, especially those applying to private individuals, shall be construed and applied against information media defendants in such a way, that their special responsibility for fairness and the avoidance of malice, negligence, and damaging reporting due to incompetence, be given due weight;

c. The communication of obscenity through the information media may be subject to special sanctions and restraints where it involves the invasion of privacy, or ready access to minors; but distributors, sellers and other facilitators of the conveyance of information media products in any form shall not be discouraged or chilled in their freedom to contribute to the maintenance of a free market of information and ideas by burdening them with an absolute presumption of knowledge of the contents of all information that they carry;

d. The preservation of a fair criminal trial by a ban on media reporting shall require virtual certainty that such a ban is essential and would in fact safeguard the rights of the accused, and that there is no viable alternative way of affording such protection; but the right of privacy of jurors concerning non-relevant facts and circumstances may be afforded reasonable restraints on reporting; and there shall be no automatic or non-consensual right to interview the accused or a convicted prisoner in a penal institution as long as some alternative channel of requesting information from an incarcerated person remains open through which the prisoner may choose to respond;

e. News-gatherers shall not be granted any privileges or immunities, or greater protection than any other person under the freedom of communications and information provisions herein, however, their need for continuous reliance on news sources requires special consideration on the part of public officials, in order not to disrupt the availability of such sources, or to harass or inhibit their activities in any unlawful or unreasonable manner;

f. In grand jury proceedings news reporters shall be required to give evidence and reveal the sources thereof in the manner any other witness may be compelled to do, and their offices may be searched in accordance with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment herein, however, in authorizing and carrying out each such search, special care must be taken to preserve the confidentiality of information concerning, persons and matters not targeted thereby;

g. Information media conveying its information on publicly-owned property subject to physical limitations, such as the airwaves, shall be subject to governmental licensing and regulation on a fair and equitable basis, solely in the public interest. Any governmental, political or economic interest not in harmony therewith shall have access to judicial review;

h. The acceptance of political or election campaign advertising in any medium of information shall not be compelled, but editorializing on political and other controversial public issues shall be subject to regulation prescribing fairness and balance in news media otherwise subject to licensing and regulation;

i. Government regulation aimed at preventing the monopoly of available public sources of information in a given geographic area may properly be applied to any medium or combination of media of information;

j. In the absence of a compelling State interest, any tax extractable exclusively from any one medium, or all media of information, shall be presumed to be a covert attempt to censor or penalize the press, and to interfere with the public's right of access to independently and freely provided information.

 5. The freedom of association:

a. As a general rule, the freedom to associate or refuse to associate, without coercion, and to petition, individually or associated with one's peers, the government of the United States or any State or local government, for a redress of grievances, shall not be abridged; and the freedoms and lawful curtailments thereof described in section 3 of this article shall apply to associations of various forms as well;

b. Membership in, or collaboration with, associations the aims or activities of which are unprotected by this Constitution, shall not be considered prima facie evidence of identification with such aims or participation in such activities;

c. Membership in or collaboration with associations engaging in illegal advocacy or activity may carry the presumption of sharing in the association's culpability where a member or collaborator possesses specific knowledge of such advocacy or activity and a clear intent that the aims be reached or the activities be carried out;

d. Associations engaged in unlawful advocacy or activity may be compelled to disclose the names of their members if such disclosure is essential to serve a substantial governmental interest; and individuals may be required to disclose any such membership as a relevant and essential condition of their public office or employment or membership in validly licensed professional bodies;

e. Absent a compelling governmental interest, political parties shall have absolute freedom from interference in their internal affairs;

f. In order to promote harmonious labor relations, simple majorities of employees may designate or form a union as a sole bargaining agent, and compel non-members to pay dues, and abide by agreements reached on their behalf. However, their dues shall be used solely for collective bargaining activities, and their right to communicate independently with their employers shall not be denied;

g. Non-coercive, peaceful picketing or boycotting intended to publicize economic or labor disputes, or the alleged denial of rights guaranteed by this Constitution, shall be protected;

h. Inmates of penal institutions may be denied their right of association, including the formation of or participation in any prison unions;

i. Political activity or party affiliation of public employees, unless specifically in conflict with the effective performance of their functions, shall not be regarded as a disqualification for public employment; and

j. Demonstrations and meetings in public places shall be conducted within the framework of subsection 1 of section 3 of this article.


Well, Which Is It?