If you feel like your First Amendment rights as an American are being trampled on, it might be because a staggering number of people don’t know what they are.
According to a recent survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, a mind-boggling 37 percent of respondents either didn’t know or couldn’t name any of the five First Amendment rights guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution: speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.
The survey was conducted August 9-13 among a group of 1,013 U.S. adults who were 18 years old and older. Respondents were from all 50 states and 39 participants took the survey in Spanish.
While 37 percent of respondents were not able to name any First Amendment rights, a handful were at least able to list some.
Fourteen percent, for example, correctly named freedom of the press as one of the First Amendment rights. Fifteen percent named freedom of religion, ten percent listed the right to peaceably assemble, and three percent identified the right to petition the government. Freedom of speech was the most widely identified Constitutional right, with nearly half (48 percent) of respondents being able to name it.
Meanwhile, five percent of respondents thought the Second Amendment was actually part of the First Amendment. That’s how many participants wrongly claimed that the right to bear arms was a right guaranteed by the First Amendment. Another two percent of survey respondents said that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a phrase referenced in the Declaration of Independence, was a First Amendment right.
So when it comes to people claiming that their First Amendment rights are being violated, whether it be Berkeley silencing conservatives, or Christian business owners being told who they have to serve, there’s a decent chance that’s happening because the people violating their rights don’t realize what they’re doing.