right to assemble | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction 

The Right to Assemble refers to the First Amendment guarantee of the right of the people to gather together, so long as they do so peacefully.

The right to assemble is a fundamental constitutional right that is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The First Amendment states that “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.”

The right to assemble is closely tied to the freedom of speech and the freedom of association. It guarantees the right of individuals to gather together in groups for the purpose of expressing their views, advocating for their interests, or engaging in political or social activities.

The right to assemble has been recognized and protected by the Supreme Court in a number of landmark decisions. In NAACP v. Alabama (1958), the Court held that the right to assemble includes the right of individuals to associate with others for the purpose of engaging in political or social activities without interference from the government. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the Court held that students have a constitutional right to express their views through peaceful assembly and protest, so long as they do not disrupt the educational process.

Despite these protections, the right to assemble is not absolute. The government may regulate the time, place, and manner of assemblies in order to protect public safety and order. For example, the government may require permits for large demonstrations or protests or may restrict assemblies in certain areas that are deemed to be particularly sensitive or dangerous.

In the prison context, the right to assemble is particularly important, as inmates are often subject to significant restrictions on their ability to communicate with each other or to organize and advocate for their rights. Inmates have the right to engage in peaceful assembly and to express their views on matters of public concern. However, prison officials may restrict these activities in order to maintain order and discipline within the institution.

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Last Modified: 04/23/2023

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