Podcasts | Constitutionally Speaking

Episode 29: Understanding the First Amendment

Detail of portrait of James Madison by John Vanderlyn, 1816 (Wikimedia)

Today, Jay and Luke begin digging into the Bill of Rights, starting with the First Amendment. Most Americans don’t realize that what we know as the First Amendment was originally the Third Amendment in Madison’s planned version of the Bill of Rights. The original First Amendment, which we call “Amendment A,” dealt with the size of Congressional Districts. The original Second Amendment dealt with Congressional pay and, after 202 years, 7 months, and 10 days, was finally ratified as the 27th Amendment.

Read with Amendment A and the 27th Amendment, the First Amendment becomes clearer as part, but not the whole, of Madison’s designs for the “political Amendments” – those dealing with representation, representatives, and representing the people.

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