Right Of Petition, the right of the citizen to petition to those in authority for a redress of grievances. In free countries this is usually regarded as a valuable right, and one to which every person is entitled by the constitution. It extends to all legislative and all discretionary executive action. To secure the full value of the right, it is necessary that great freedom be allowed in commenting upon persons and measures, and a petition is therefore regarded as a privileged document, and errors in its statements do not subject the signers to responsibility if they are made without actual malice. But this exemption would not be recognized if the petition were addressed to a person or body having no authority over the subject matter thereof. The right of petition is expressly secured to the citizen by constitutional provisions in the United States, and in legislative bodies the presentation of petitions and their reference to appropriate committees are usually entered on the journal. An exception was at one period made by congress of petitions on the subject of slavery, which were not accorded the courtesy of a reference.