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First Five by the Freedom Forum Institute

The First Amendment protects five core freedoms that are under attack every day — from the left, the right, and everywhere in between. First Five strives to foster interest in First Amendment news and provide a platform for discussion among enthusiasts and activists. Column is available weekly for NNA member newspapers to reprint. 

The First Amendment and our rights to speak, assemble and seek change

Through it all, the First Amendment both fuels those voices and protects those rights — at times in collaboration with other amendments in the Bill of Rights.  

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Masks protect protesters in more ways than you think

Lata Nott argues that masks, which protect the health of protestors during the COVID-19 pandemic, also safeguard privacy and anonymity – and therefore our First Amendment freedoms.

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A moment for change: allies can make a difference

We are at another turning point in our nation’s history, and people of good faith want to be part of that change. This week, the Freedom Forum’s Power Shift Project hosted a webinar titled ...

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The First Amendment, Black liberation and you

Everyone should acknowledge one important fact: we are all protected by the First Amendment because of the struggle for Black liberation.

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Floyd protests powered by freedoms of assembly, petition

Gene Policinski talks about our two least-known freedoms, petition and assembly, and how they are powering a deep national conversation on how we should deal with racism, bigotry and criminal justice in ...

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Should courts decide who is a religious minister? Do they have a choice?

Benjamin Marcus discusses the question of whether or not the court should allow religious communities to self-designate ministers and if so, would that eviscerate non-discrimination protections. 

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In its first live-broadcast oral arguments, Supreme Court discusses several First Amendment issues

Lata Nott discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the court to shift to a remote teleconferencing format, opening up the court's inner workings to a larger audience allowing greater transparency ...

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What words make up a ‘true threat?’ Well, that depends

Gene Policinski discusses the meaning behind what makes up a “true threat” and how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted American’s First Amendment protection of speech.

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You might have the right to gather, but you can choose otherwise

Benjamin Marcus talks about the recent state stay-at-home order lifts and how they are impacting the COVID-19 case numbers. Citizens may be able to start gathering and exercising religious freedom rights, ...

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By providing fair and accurate reporting abroad, Voice of America conveys the finest of American values

“By reporting not just on other countries’ governments, but also on our own with fairness and accuracy, the VOA represents the possibility, for those who live under repressive regimes, that ...

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Our First Amendment rights must survive COVID-19

Gene Policinski discusses whether or not the government can override our First Amendment rights with limits on public assemblies, faith-based gatherings and public protests during the COVID-19 pandemic. ...

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Faith, freedom in action in troubled times – like now

Amid the current pandemic, Blair Forlaw reflects on how religious communities and leaders have reacted to various crises and challenges to society since the nation was founded. Read the column. A plain ...

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Religious communities can play a huge role in fighting the pandemic— but not by gathering for services

Last month, we thought that stopping the spread of the virus was a matter of washing our hands thoroughly and avoiding touching our faces. Now, we're unable to assemble in groups and many of us are confined ...

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‘Be nice’ is not needed during crisis — but a free press is

“Be nice” — two words not found anywhere among the 45 words of the First Amendment. Also not found: “positive,” or “get ya” or “trust.”

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Can religious freedom survive COVID-19?

As a child, I attended weekend classes at our local synagogue to learn about Judaism. I remember one lesson above all from those years: past Jewish experience of pogroms and the Holocaust demands that ...

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In crisis times, balancing safety and freedom

In times of crisis, safety and freedom may seem like they’re at odds with each other. A society that respects individual liberty can’t implement the same kinds of drastic laws and policies ...

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Conditions of possibility for religious freedom

Americans sometimes assume they are equipped with everything they need — laws, policies and cultural norms — to exercise their right to religious freedom. But is that true? What circumstances ...

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The First Amendment protects activities adjacent to voting, but stops short of voting itself

The First Amendment protects your right to express yourself freely. While you can do a lot of different things with that freedom, its highest purpose, and the reason that the Constitution's framers ...

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