The First Amendment of the Constitution provides “the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
There are two words in this statement that are important to for us remember. As citizens of the United States of America we have a Constitutional “right” to assemble for the purpose of letting our voices be heard and there are many ways we can do this. Nationally, many people have assembled to form the Tea Party movement and locally, people have assembled in homes, churches, and meeting halls to plan how to get their elected leaders to hear their concerns.
The most visible form of assembly is the street protest where people gather in large numbers in public to have their complaints audibly and visibly heard. Each of these forms of assembly is a guaranteed right to all Americans.
However, there is another important word that is associated with this right and that is the word “peaceably.” Americans are free to express their opinions but with that freedom comes responsibility. Freedom cannot exist without law and laws cannot exist without obedience to them. Americans have a Constitutional right to protest but they also have an obligation to do so lawfully by following the supreme law of the land which says that protests must be done peacefully.
It doesn’t matter if the other side of the debate uses unlawful methods to counter our voice. Violence only encourages more violence which often harms the cause of protestors rather than helps them. The Tea Party not only believes in assembling peaceably but requires it of their members at all times. The critics are already labeling us as a violent, extremist group in an attempt to discredit our movement. The best way to counter their charges and advance our cause is to give them no evidence to back up their false allegations.