Securing Basic Freedoms

The first four amendments of the Bill of Rights protect citizens’ key freedoms from governmental intrusion. The First Amendment limits the government’s ability to impose certain religious beliefs on the people, or to limit the practice of one’s own religion. The First Amendment also protects freedom of expression by the public, the media, and organized groups via rallies, protests, and the petition of grievances. The Second Amendment today protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for personal defense in the home, while the Third Amendment limits the ability of the government to allow the military to occupy civilians’ homes except under extraordinary circumstances. Finally, the Fourth Amendment protects our persons, homes, and property from unreasonable searches and seizures, and it protects the people from unlawful arrests. However, all these provisions are subject to limitations, often to protect the interests of public order, the good of society as a whole, or to balance the rights of some citizens against those of others.