The Soul of the First Amendment - Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Floyd Abrams
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Summary

Chapter One describes the creation of the First Amendment. Abrams notes that the Constitution did not originally include a Bill of Rights. James Madison, along with many of his contemporaries, considered such a declaration unnecessary. Because the Constitution did not extend the government’s powers to the restriction of free speech and free press, those rights existed by default. Many Americans disagreed, however, arguing that explicit descriptions and protections of rights were necessary to prevent encroachments from tyranny. After extensive debate, Madison shifted his view and drafted a list of basic rights. His proposal, with few modifications, would become the Bill of Rights and its First Amendment provides for freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and religion. Abrams notes that the First Amendment is written in negative terms, describing what Congress cannot do, rather than what the people can or must do. Based on...

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This section contains 946 words
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