Supporters of former President Trump launched an attack on the Capitol Building on January 6th, 2019. They attempted to undermine President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election by disrupting a joint Congress convened to count electoral votes for the president-elect. According to the First Amendment, Congress may not enact legislation that restricts or prohibits the free exercise of religious beliefs. As well as the right to submit a grievance with the government for remedy, among other things, freedom of expression is protected under the First Amendment (Bauer, 2010). The incident may be associated with the First Amendment, which stipulates some of the rights that groups and individual citizens have as far as expressing grievances is concerned. This discussion will evaluate whether the First Amendment protected the incidents of January 6th.
Congress convened to certify the results of the victory of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election during this joint session of Congress. Because the incident’s goal was to prevent a legal president-elect from taking office, it was primarily seen as an insurgency or an attempted coup d’état by the international community. It was designated domestic terrorism by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies involved.
Trump claimed that Democrats had stolen the election, which was untrue. Soon before the Capitol attack, Trump reiterated his phony claim, prompting an immense multitude of his fans to march to the Capitol and protest Congress’s certification of Biden’s victory in the presidential election. When Trump supporters clashed with Capitol police, they stormed the building and demolished and destroyed the interior, prompting the Capitol to declare a state of emergency.
The First Amendment
Among the many rights protected by the First Amendment are religious liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government. Following the Constitution’s protections for religious freedom, it is prohibited under this legislation for the federal government to prefer one religion over another or to bar anybody from engaging in religious activities (Bauer, 2010). Freedom of speech is protected by prohibiting Congress from oppressing the press or the general public’s right to freely express themselves. According to the Constitution, residents have the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government. There can be no laws passed by Congress that create or prohibit religious institutions, limit free speech or the press, or limit the people’s right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
The protection of the event by the First Amendment
Depending on the premise and manner in which the rioters approached the Capitol, the First Amendment did not protect the occurrence because it was not portrayed as a peaceful endeavor to seek government redress through peaceful means. The statements made by Donald Trump were untrue since he did not pursue the case via the legal system (Kelly, 2022). During his campaign, Trump claimed that Democrats had “stolen” the election, which was false. Soon before the attack on the Capitol, Trump restated his phony allegation, inciting tens of thousands of his supporters to march in protest of Congress’ recognition of Biden’s presidential election victory in the presidential election. Trump supporters attacked Capitol police and penetrated the building, causing damage and devastation to the interior, forcing the President to declare a state of emergency. The incident would also be perceived as a coup d’etat as former president Trump prevented the President-elect from assuming office.
To put it another way, the attack on the Capitol “constituted an attempted coup d’état: a concerted, unconstitutional attempt to intervene in the presidential transition by eliminating Congress’ authority to confirm the presidential election.” As a result, one or more persons posed a danger to the legislative branch’s ability to make national policy choices on a national level. Members of Congress were forced to suspend their constitutionally mandated duties on January 6th when protesters stormed the Capitol and presented a direct threat to their safety that they were forced to resign.
The assailants wished to see the government’s leadership removed from power. The “Save America March,” which took place before the attack on the United States Capitol, had the primary purpose of affecting the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in the United States (Newell, 2021). Because “the groups and individuals known to have organized and coordinated this coup attempt manifestly fell within the label of ‘dissidents,’ the actions might be defined as a “dissident attempted coup,”
However, even if the First Amendment stresses the freedom of expression and the right to petition the government to address their problems, the strategy should be lawful in all cases. Thus, instead of attacking politicians, rioters could have demonstrated peacefully and avoided confrontation with dissidents who had views that differed from their own on the purpose of the protests. The attack was seen as an attempt to prevent Joe Biden, the democratically chosen leader, from taking over the reins of government. Trump’s charges would also be unable to be quantified in a legal sense, rendering his attempts to prevent the certification of the President-elect unconstitutional.
Bauer, J. P. (2010). Copyright and the First Amendment: Comrades, Combatants, or Uneasy Allies. Wash. & Lee L. Rev., 67, 831.
Kelly, J. (2022). January 6th: How Democrats Used the Capitol Protest to Launch a War on Terror Against the Political Right. Bombardier Books.
Newell, B. (2021). Introduction Domestic Terrorism, White Supremacy, and State Surveillance. Surveillance & Society, 19(3), 338-344.