The Right To Petition
The Right To Petition is a First Amendment Right in the United States of America. Throughout history, the petition has been a way for regular citizens to band together and bring their concerns and grievances before the government. Many voices are stronger and louder than one.
- a formally drawn request, often bearing the names of a number of those making the request, that is addressed to a person or group of persons in authority or power, soliciting some favor, right, mercy, or other benefit: a petition for clemency; a petition for the repeal of an unfair law.
- a request made for something desired, especially a respectful or humble request, as to a superior or to one of those in authority; a supplication or prayer: a petition for aid; a petition to God for courage and strength
- something that is sought by request or entreaty: to receive one’s full petition
- an application for a court order or for some judicial action.
verb (used with object)
- to beg for or request (something).
- to address a formal petition to (a sovereign, a legislative body, etc.): He received everything for which he had petitioned the king.
- to ask by petition for (something).
verb (used without object)
- to present a petition.
- to address or present a formal petition.
- to request or solicit, as by a petition: to petition for redress of grievances.
History of the Petition
We use the word petition in all forms. Most importantly, however, is when we use it as a noun: a formally drawn request, often bearing the names of a number of those making the request, that is addressed to a person or group of persons in authority or power. Throughout history, the right to petition one’s government has been protected by government-defining documents such as the English Magna Carta (1215) and Petition of Right (1628). Before the Revolutionary War, the founding fathers were encouraged to petition King George III rather than separate from England. The Declaration of Independence states, “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.” After the war, the founders wrote the Right to Petition into the First Amendment to ensure the voice of the people could be heard.
Petitions That Succeeded
In February 2015, Congress passed legislation to address the veteran suicide rate as a result of petitions like the “Pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act.”
On February 9, 2015, an innocent man wrongfully incarcerated for 21 years had his record cleared.
Head to sites like Change.org to witness Petitions in action, including the victories.
Petitions are still viewed as a method of individual efficacy. Americans sign petitions every day in order to communicate their feeling on certain topics to their government. This process is mostly done electronically, and can be on topics as varied as the censorship of American History (43,450 signatures as of 2/27/2015) or the deportment of Justin Bieber (273,968 signatures before reply from White House). In 2011, the White House set up a website (We the People link) on which petitions can be set up, hosted, and signed. The current requirements for consideration by the White House are 100,000 signatures gained within 30 days. The White House promises to answer each petition that meets those requirements.
Follow My Vote and Petitions
Change.org is a petition hosting website and a great resource to witness the petition process from start to finish. Follow My Vote recently launched their own petition to implement a modern voting system to improve the voting process for generations to come.