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What’s the Point of Demonstrating?

September 19, 2009
The Independent Institute
9/14/2009

Thousands of Americans have just staged a demonstration in Washington, D.C., to express their displeasure with the growth of government in general and the Obama administration’s health-insurance proposals in particular. Such demonstrations are a tradition in this country. The First Amendment, which people usually associate with freedom of speech, religion, and the press, also stipulates that Congress shall make no law abridging “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Founders knew that people would sometimes desire to complain publicly against government policies that affected them adversely. After all, their own revolution had begun amid many such protests against the British government.

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