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STUDY: 37% of Americans Don’t Know What the First Amendment Does

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STUDY: 37% of Americans Don't Know What the First Amendment Does

new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 37 percent of Americans can’t name any of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. On top of that, 39 percent of people surveyed support allowing Congress to stop news media from reporting on issues of national security without government approval, which runs against the First Amendment itself. The survey found that opposition to this kind of prior restraint has been eroding — in 2016, 55 percent of people opposed it; this year, only 49 percent did.

“Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are,” Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, said in a statement. “The fact that many don’t is worrisome. These results emphasize the need for high-quality civics education in the schools and for press reporting that underscores the existence of constitutional protections.”

Only 48 percent of people surveyed could even name that free speech is a right protected by the First Amendment.

As a reminder, here’s the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

SOURCE:  Annenberg Public Policy Center

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