The Neglected Right of Assembly
48 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 22, 2010
This Article considers changes in both our understanding of the constitutional right of peaceable assembly and our regulatory practices with respect to public assemblies. It shows that through the late nineteenth century the state could only interfere with gatherings that actually disturbed the public peace, whereas today the state typically regulates all public assemblies, including those that are both peaceful and not inconvenient, before they occur, through permit requirements. Through this regulatory shift, and judicial approval of it, the substance of the right of peaceable assembly was narrowed. The history recounted in this Article is significant because it provides insight into the democratic and social practices the right was intended to protect - insight that cautions against collapsing the collective right of assembly into the individual right of free expression.
Keywords: First Amendment, Right of Assembly, Peaceable Assembly, Protest, Demonstration, Permit Requirements, Democracy, Legal History
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