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.
Recently there was a thread about the case involving the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Obama Administration. That thread opened up a discussion about clashing interpretations of the First Amendment, hence this thread where everyone is invited to correct my interpretation.
In my interpretation, the First Amendment only restricts the laws that the government can make. It says so quite clearly. It does not restrict what anyone other than the government can do. Hence it’s logically impossible for anyone other than the government to violate the First Amendment.
Some people don’t seem to get this. For instance, people on this and other message boards have claimed that having rules for what can be posted and moderators to enforce those rules is against the First Amendment. They’re wrong; of course. Private institutions can have whatever rules governing speech they want, within their own property or events.
Defenders of the Obama Administration in that thread said things like this:
To me, it looks like the defense of the Obama Administration rests on the same sort of childish misunderstanding as those who say that message board policies violate the First Amendment. So which side is right?