Amendment I (Petition and Assembly)
William Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States 124 1829 (2d ed.)
The right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition government for a redress of grievances concludes the article.
Of this right in the abstract there cannot be a doubt. To withhold from the injured, the privilege of complaint, and to debar the rulers from the benefit of information that may apprize them of their errors, is mutually unjust. It may, however, be urged, that history shows how those meetings and petitions have been abused, and we may be turned to an English statute, which, though ill observed, is said to be still in force, and which is understood to have been founded on the mischiefs and disorders experienced from large and tumultuous assemblies, presenting petitions for the redress of grievances in the reign of Charles I. But besides the well known irrelevancy of the argument from the abuse of any thing against its use, we must remember that by requiring the assembly to be peaceable, the usual remedies of the law are retained, if the right is illegally exercised.
Rawle, William. A View of the Constitution of the United States of America. 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1829. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970.
© 1987 by The University of Chicago