The first federal copyright law was passed in the First Congress in 1790
and predated the ratification of the First Amendment. Its purpose was to
Laws and Proposed Laws, Pre-First Amendment
Before the First Amendment was adopted, Maryland passed the Toleration Act
of 1649, which was meant to ensure religious freedom for Christian settlers
of diverse persuasions.
The Old Deluder Satan Act of 1647, laid the basis for public schools in
America and also future First Amendment conflicts regarding religious acts
in public schools.
The Constitution framers were familiar with press licensing controls such
as England’s Printing Ordinance of 1643 when they decided to protect press
freedom in the First Amendment.
The speech and debate clause of the Constitution is more limited than the
First Amendment. Only legislative speech by Congress members is protected
from lawsuits under the clause.