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Law Day in the USA: Which Rights Do Americans Love Best?

May 1 in the United States in officially recognized as Law Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the day, saying, "In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive it must choose the rule of law."

In honor of Law Day, FindLaw surveyed 1,000 American adults, asking them to rank the most important civil liberties and rights, as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So which rights are most important to Americans? Let's find out:

The First is First

Perhaps unsurprisingly, respondents thought freedom of speech was the most important right. Stephanie Rahlfs, attorney-editor with FindLaw.com, noted, "it's interesting to note that the Founding Fathers placed freedom of speech into the First Amendment as a cornerstone of the Bill of Rights." It seems that modern Americans still agree with the Founders, with 30 percent saying freedom of speech is the most important to them.

The rest of the survey looked like this:

  • Freedom of Speech 30%
  • Due process rights 20%
  • Right to keep and bear arms 12%
  • Free exercise of religion 11%
  • Voting rights 10%
  • Protection against cruel and unusual punishment 6%
  • Protection against unreasonable search and seizure 5%
  • Criminal trial rights 4%
  • Freedom of the press 2%

And Also Last

In addition, freedom of the press, also contained in the First Amendment, ranked last in the survey, with only 2 percent of people saying it was the most important right. This may be because few of the respondents were members of the press, as there were other variations within certain poll sub-groups.

Older Americans place a higher value on due process rights and the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, while younger people chose freedom of speech and the protection against cruel and unusual punishment as more vital. Perhaps predictably, men were also more likely to choose the right to bear arms, while their female counterparts more often chose free exercise of religion as the most important right.

Almost 225 years after it was enacted, the Bill of Rights still plays a pivotal role in our everyday lives, mostly through the codification, enforcement, and respect for the nation's laws.

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