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American Government and Politics Today

American Government and Politics Today

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American Government and Politics Today

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  1. American Government and Politics Today Chapter 4 Civil Liberties

  2. The Bill of Rights • Origins - colonists’ fear of a tyrannical government • Federalists agreed to amend the Constitution to include a Bill of Rights after ratification • This placed limitations on the government and thus protected citizens’ civil liberties

  3. The Bill of Rights and State Governments • The original Bill of Rights did not apply to state governments • The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) imposed, step-by-step, most Constitutional protections of civil liberties upon state governments • Incorporation theory: the view that most protections of the Bill of Rights apply to state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause

  4. Freedom of Religion: The Establishment Clause • Setting up “a wall of separation of Church and State” • Aid to church-related schools • School vouchers • School prayer—Engel v. Vitale • Prayer outside the classroom • The Ten Commandments • The teaching of evolution • Religious speech

  5. Freedom of Religion: The Free Exercise Clause • Guarantees the free exercise of religion, and is restrained when religious practices interfere with public policy • Examples: the ability of school districts to select texts for students; the requirement of vaccinations for school enrollment • The Religious Freedom Restoration Act • Free exercise in public schools

  6. Freedom of Expression • No prior restraint • Protection of symbolic speech • Protection of commercial speech • Permitted restrictions on expression • Clear and present danger • Modifications: the bad-tendency rule, the grave and probable rule

  7. Freedom of Expression (continued) • Unprotected Speech • Obscenity • Slander • Pornography and Internet pornography • Campus speech • Hate speech on the Internet

  8. Freedom of the Press • Libel: a written defamation of character • Public figures must meet higher standards than ordinary people to win a libel suit • A free press versus a fair trial • Gag order: the right of a defendant to a fair trial supersedes the right of the public to “attend” the trial • Film, radio, and television • This freedom is no longer limited to print media, though broadcast media do not receive the same protection as print media

  9. The Right to Assemble and Petition the Government • The Supreme Court has held that state and local governments cannot bar individuals from assembling • However, they can require permits for assembly so that order can be maintained, though they cannot be selective as to who receives permits • Street gangs • Online assembly

  10. Matters of Privacy • There is no explicit Constitutional right to privacy – it is an interpretation by the Supreme Court drawn from the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments • The right was established in 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut • Privacy rights in an information age

  11. Privacy Rights and Abortion • In Roe v. Wade (1973) the court held that governments could not prohibit abortions, as this would violate a woman’s right to privacy • The Supreme Court has issued many decisions on the boundaries of state regulations concerning abortion • The controversy continues

  12. Privacy Rights and the Right to Die • Cruzanv. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1997): a patient’s life support could be withdrawn at the request of a family member if there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the patient did not want the treatment • This has led to the popularity of advance health directives, commonly called living wills • What if there is no living will?

  13. Privacy Rights and the Right to Die (continued) • Physician-assisted suicide - the Court has stated that the Constitution does not imply a right to commit suicide • This decision has given states much leeway to legislate on this issue • Only Oregon has legalized physician-assisted suicide

  14. Privacy Rights versus Security Issues • Privacy rights have taken on particular importance since September 11, 2001 • Rules such as the proposed “roving” wiretap legislation may violate the Fourth Amendment • The USA Patriot Act • Concerns about civil liberties

  15. The Rights of the Accused versus the Rights of Society • Fourth Amendment • No unreasonable or unwarranted search or seizure • No arrest except on probable cause • Fifth Amendment • No coerced confession • No compulsory self-incrimination

  16. The Rights of the Accused (continued) • Sixth Amendment • Legal counsel • Informed of charges • Speedy and public jury trial • Impartial jury of one’s peers • Eighth Amendment • Reasonable bail • No cruel or unusual punishment

  17. Extending the Rights of the Accused • Miranda v. Arizona (1966):requires police to inform suspects of their rights • A “public safety” exception to Miranda says that illegal confessions need not bar a conviction if other evidence is strong, and that suspects must claim their rights unequivocally

  18. Extending the Rights of the Accused (continued) • In the future, a procedure such as video recording of interrogations might satisfy Fifth Amendment requirements • The exclusionary rule: prohibits the admission of illegally seized evidence

  19. The Death Penalty • Is the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment? • Or is it a useful method for dealing with the worst criminals?

  20. The Death Penalty Today • The death penalty is allowed in 37 states • Time limits for death row appeals • The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 limits appeals from death row • DNA testing has freed about 100 death row inmates who were wrongly convicted, casting more doubt on the use of capital punishment

  21. Questions for Critical Thinking • What do you think is the historical basis for civil liberties? Are Americans as concerned today about the protection of their civil liberties as were our founders? • Do you think the libel laws restrict a free press? Should the press be allowed to publish anything it wants about a person? Should the press have to prove that everything published is absolutely true?

  22. Questions for Critical Thinking • Why are the rights of the accused so important? Is there any way to strike a balance between the rights of the victims and the rights of the accused?