Bill of Rights American Civics

Jen Hildebrant

1st Amendment

"Freedom of Speech"

Case: United States vs. American Library Assn., Inc.


Explanation: Congress, in the year 2000, passed the CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act) to prevent exposing children to sensitive material and potentially harming them. The act applies to public libraries in order to filter the content, but the American Library Association argued that it violates their patron's First Amendment rights. The court of 3 judges unanimously ruled in favor of the American Library Assn., coming to the conclusion that the CIPAfilter does in fact violate First Amendment Rights. It relates to the First Amendment due to the fact that any adults and other library goers have a right to access the internet and express themselves. The argument as a whole is how CIPA violates the freedom of expression. In conclusion, the Supreme Court ruled that libraries use of internet filtering does NOT violate 1st amendment rights and that CIPA does not induce the libraries to violate the Constitution, ruling it a valid utilization of Congressional spending.


"United States v. American Library Assn., Inc.." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 11, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2002/02-361>

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1st Amendment (continued)

"Freedom of Petition"

Case: Doe #1 vs. Reed


Explanation: A Washington federal district promoting the idea: "Preserve Marriage. Protect Children." through a petition. The plaintiffs in this case tried to prevent the petition signer's information from being released, stating that the PRA violates the first amendment because it "narrowly tailored to serve a compelling gov. interest". The question is, should the government be able to disclose that type of information to the public or should it be protected? The court ruled that disclosing this information does not violate the first amendment in a general matter. This is especially important to citizens in our society BECAUSE of the fact that this information can be disclosed, so people need to critically think about what petitions they sign and if they want their information out there open to the general public.


"Doe #1 v. Reed." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 16, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2009/09-559>

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1st Amendment (continued)

"Freedom of Assembly and Association"

Case: Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez


Explanation: The CLS, or Christian Legal Society of California University filed against the University of California for violating their first amendment rights. Due to the fact that CLS isn't recognized as a legitimate student organization, the district court dismissed the case. Because what's defined as a student organization is that any student can participate, become a member of, or seek leadership positions in regardless of their status/beliefs, the CLS is illegitimate due to their inability to follow that simple rule in allowing any student to join and participate, essentially discriminating against anyone that doesn't fit in with their religious beliefs. The court ruled in favor of the University of California, stating that the rule for student organizations is entirely "reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition". Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that while the First Amendment may protect CLS' "discriminatory practices off campus, but it does not require a public university to validate or support such practices".


"Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 16, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2009/08-1371>

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1st Amendment (continued)

"Freedom of Religion"

Case: Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe


Explanation: A school council chaplain delivered multiple prayers over the intercom before various varsity football games. Because the prayer was described as "overtly Christian", a mormon family as well as a catholic family filed suit against them, claiming it violated the first amendment and the separation of church and state. The district ensured a new policy to be put in place, to permit (but not require) a student-lead prayer at all home games but later amended that the prayer must be "nonsectarian and nonproselytizing", meaning that they must not involve or relate to a specific religious sect or political group. The district petitioned that the prayers do not violate the first amendment clause because the football varsity game messages are of private student speech, not public speech. This is important to students today because it's still prevalent in schools around the nation. The court appealed that, even the modified version of the rule by the District, the football prayer policy was in fact invalid. Because the football field is on government property and the school is government sponsored, the court ruled the prayers a violation of the first amendment.


"Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 16, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/1999/99-62>

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1st Amendment (continued)

"Freedom of Press"

Case: Tory vs. Cochran (2005)


Explanation: Cochran sued a former client Ulysses Tory for making statements against him in order to ruin his reputation; i.e. Tory slandered Cochran, and tried to force Cochran to pay him money in exchange for ceasing to publish his words. A judge heard Ulysses Tory, Tory claiming that the judge's ruling of never publishing a word of Cochran again violated his first amendment rights. Cochran died one week after the oral argument. The court ruled that the death of Cochran diminished the judge's order, essentially leading to an overly broad restraint on speech. Though this case is unique, it's important to our society today because there are a lot of illegal words being published every day to tear down a public figure's reputation.


"Tory v. Cochran." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 16, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2004/03-1488>

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2nd Amendment

"Right to Bear Arms"

Case: District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)


Explanation: Due to the District of Columbia passing the legislation barring the registration of handguns as well as requiring licensing and regulating guns and ammunition in general, several private gun owners filed suit claiming that the new law violated their second amendment right to bear arms. The D.C. federal court did not grant the plaintiff's relief, stating that the second amendment only applies to militias such as the National Guard and NOT private gun ownership. The supreme court ruled that yes, the law does violate the second amendment in relation to private gun ownership and an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected to service in a militia. Still, in many Justice's views, the laws in question were not inappropriate and/or outrageous in any way, Justice Breyer and Stevens stating that the only way to truly violate the second amendment is through an outrageous and inappropriate law. In our society today, gun control and the second amendment is an extremely controversial topic, as it should be. It's important to take into account all the evidence, but ultimately leave it up to the government to decide the strictness of their gun laws.


"District of Columbia v. Heller." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 16, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2007/07-290>

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4th Amendment

"Search and Seizure"

Case: Board of Education of Independent School District #92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls (2002)


Explanation: Oklahoma School District in Tecumseh adopted a new policy called the Student Activities Drug Testing Policy which is self explanatory, essentially stating that all high school and middle school students must participate in drug tests and urinalysis in order to participate in any extracurricular activities. Two families of high school students that attend this school district in Oklahoma filed suit, claiming that this violates their 4th amendment rights against unwarranted search and seizure. The court concluded that before any drug tests were administered, they would have to provide evidence of an identifiable drug problem in their schools, which the District failed to demonstrate and supply. The supreme court ruling, though, concluded that yes, the Drug Testing Policy was in fact consistent with the 4th amendment in that it reasonably serves the School District's interest in preventing drug use among their student body. This is especially important to Americans today because they need to be aware of the things that the government can and cannot do constitutionally, especially searches and seizures and unwarranted drug testing, etc.




"Board of Ed. of Independent School Dist. No. 92 of Pottawatomie Cty. v. Earls." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 17, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2001/01-332>

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8th Amendment

"Cruel and Unusual Punishment"

Case: Roper v. Simmons (2005)


Explanation: In 1993, 17 year old Christopher Simmons was sentenced to death. After a case in 2002 dealing with executing the mentally ill and after the Supreme court decided that executing the mentally ill violated the 8th and 14th amendments, the Missouri court decided to reconsider Simmons's case. The Missouri court decided, looking back on a case from 1989 dealing with the execution of minors being constitutional, decided that that was no longer valid. Now that the American majority on the issue has changed since '89, the court has now ruled that executing a minor as unconstitutional. The supreme court concluded that the execution of minors and the mentally ill is in fact unconstitutional and that the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for minors. This is important to our society today because it shows how much our legal system has changed and how the rights of people (especially minors in this case) are being protected under the 8th Amendment.


"Roper v. Simmons." Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Nov 17, 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2004/03-633>

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