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The First Amendment and The Ku Klux Klan

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“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 to assemble peacefully, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This is the first amendment that people all around the world abide by, the one that protects the members of the KKK.

The first and most important amendment is the first amendment. This amendment was incorporated to the U.S. Constitution to serve its purpose of protecting the citizens of United States from injustice. Moreover, this amendment established the freedoms of citizens. The three sections of the first amendment that will be used in the KKK cases are freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.

Part of the first amendment is freedom of religion. There were many cases in history where citizens’ freedom of religion are violated. One case that violated the rights of citizens because of their religion was the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a genocide during World War II lead by Adolf Hitler’s German Nazi Party that aided to murder about 6 million Jewish people. Jewish people were forced to hide their religion in order to survive and were ashamed of who they were because one man decided it was the wrong way of life. To insure this never happens again the amendments were made to protect citizens from this kind of injustice in the future.

A group that is widely known for violating the freedom of religion is the KKK. Furthermore, the KKK started off with six Confederate veterans from Pulaski, Tennessee in 1865 after the Civil War and this secret society lasted until the 1870s’. Later on, this group was recreated in 1915 and is still going on till this day. The Ku Klux Klan is a society in the southern U.S. that revolves around white supremacy and terrorizes a certain race and religion. To add, the KKK is full of members that feel like they need sense of belonging and this group gave that to them. The members keep their true identities hidden and remain unknown because of the hate they could get. Moreover, the Ku Klux Klan is a feared group by many people in America because of them many were violated as humans. This group has a similar mindset as that of Adolf Hitler because they think that there should only be one perfect race, the KKK uses violence and moves above the law to support themselves. Political leaders also have a distinct opinion on the KKK rallies and their violence. ‘Racism is evil – and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,’ President Donald Trump said and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump also said, “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis.” Both Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump have a negative view on the violence that the KKK is causing.

The Ku Klux Klan has always been secretive with their group and has been known as the “Invisible Empire.” The Ku Klux Klan began in 1865 and took control in 1868. Their goal was “to restore order meant returning the Negro to the field – just as long as he didn’t do too well there – and the pre-war leaders to their former seats of power”. Those were did not support their cause or someone who was a non-white were dragged to the center of the town and executed them in front of everyone. This is why many fear this group and would also discriminate the blacks to save themselves. Once most of the black population was swiped out the KKK achieved its goal to rid of their race. In 1882, the U.S Supreme Court declared the Ku Klux Klan unconstitutional, but by then they group had already disappeared. The Ku Klux Klan came to an end. However, in 1915 the Ku Klux Klan was soon recreated. This time the goal was much larger, they “attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics”. Apart from discriminating blacks the Klan are now discriminating people with a certain religion. The KKK “would help to weaken the political power of Southern blacks and Republicans”. The Klan “spread misinformation about its enemies, planting false news stories about conspiratorial Jews and greedy Catholic priests”.

In today’s society everything revolves around hatred and violence due to ignorant minds. Former President, Bill Clinton, can agree with this mindset by saying the following, “Even as we protect free speech and assembly, we must condemn hatred, violence and white supremacy.” The Klan is protected by the first amendment to have the right to assemble, but they should not be able to do this if what they are doing is spreading violence and hateful comments to a certain religion and race. The KKK is protected in certain cases, but “fundamental First Amendment questions about the ability of organized white supremacists to speak and demonstrate in the public forum were focused on a group”.

The Ku Klux Klan’s first amendment was violated in this Supreme Court case. In 2003, Virginia v. Black, involved the burning of a cross. According to a source “a burning cross became the symbol of the new organization”. The case involved a cross-burning at a Ku Klux Klan rally led by Barry Black. Black was convicted of a felony for violating the Virginia Statute that stated,’…for any person…, with the intent of intimidating any person or group…, to burn…a cross on the property of another, a highway or other public place,’ moreover ‘any such burning…shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to intimidate a person or group.’ Justice Sandra Day O’Connor opinionated on the matter by saying that ‘a state, consistent with the First Amendment, may ban cross burning carried out with the intent to intimidate.’ Black justified himself that the cross-burning did not send a message with an “intent to intimidate” and argued that the law is unconstitutional and that any cross-burning would be treated as prima facie evidence of the intention to deliberately cause fear. He also said that his first amendment rights were being violated. The Court was deciding if it was constitutional to pass a law that bans cross-burning. Moreover, the Court said that Virginia could pass a law that states that cross-burning of any type shall be banned due to the cross-burning at the KKK rally. The court ruled in Black’s favor because the Virginia statute was unconditional, therefore Black’s conviction was an invalidation. The KKK was also violated of their first amendment rights in this case as well. This court case is the Brandenburg v. Ohio case in 1969. Clarence Brandenburg, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan made a speech at a KKK rally in Ohio and was soon convicted of violating the Ohio criminal syndicalism law. This law states that, ‘crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform,’ and to assemble ‘with any society, group, or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism.’ Brandenburg’s right to free speech is protected by the first amendment. The Ohio criminal syndicalism law prohibited public speech violated Brandenburg’s right to free speech. The law was then ruled unconstitutional.

The KKK rallied on throughout the United States without getting arrested. Many ask why and now we know that they are protected by the first amendment. The first amendment protects even those who do not deserve to be protected like the Ku Klux Klan. They are white supremacists who do not look past religion and race. The KKK is free to rally whenever they desire as long as no one is disturbed and if they rally in peace. However, the first amendment also protects those who are striped of their freedoms, those who deserve to be protected because many people’s freedoms and rights are violated nowadays. The first amendment brings justice to many people’s lives and even to those who are members of a hateful group like the KKK.

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