Bill of Rights Project

Caitlyn Tilley

The First Amendment: Freedom of Religion

Student Loses Case Involving Religious Message In Speech

A middle school student in Craryville, N.Y., took her school to the supreme court when they told her she could not include a religious message at the end of her speech to the school. When she showed her written speech to a teacher and counselor for review, they advised her to either take out, or check with the principal on a religious part of the speech. The principal told her she could not say that part in the speech. Although the student was upset, she left it out, but she then tried to sue the school district. The student lost the case because the assembly was paid for by the school. The school provided the microphone and stage for the assembly, giving them the right to not allow her to bring in any religious aspects to the speech. This relates to the first amendment, freedom of speech, because the student thought she had a right to say something religious in her speech. This is important to individuals of the US because even though we have the right to freedom of speech, there are limitations.

Hudson Jr., David L. "First Amendment Center." First Amendment Center. First Amendment Center, 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
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The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech

Supreme Court Case Tests the Limits of Free Speech on Facebook and Other Social Media

Anthony Elonis began posting a series of seemingly possible threats on facebook when his wife left, taking their kids with. Besides the threats towards his wife, he also posted threats to his work place and to nearby elementary schools. Although some of these threats were very serious, serious enough to have an FBI agent knocking on his door, there is question on weather he was serious or not. His idol, rapper Eminem, often raps about violent things towards his ex-wife. These songs are not taken seriously. Elonis says he was just "relieving stress and getting some emotions out, nothing serious." Elonis sat in jail for a while as a consequence. This relates to the first amendment, Freedom of Speech because although we have the right to Freedom of Speech, we can not threaten people. It is very important for citizens to know about cases like this one because almost everyone uses and posts on social media these days.

Barnes, Robert. "Were Anthony Elonis's Facebook Postings Harmless Rants or Real Threats? The Supreme Court Must Decide." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2014. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
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The Second Amendment: The Right to Bear Arms

District of Columbia V Heller

The district of Columbia v Heller was the first Supreme Court case to decide weather the second amendment protects an individual's rights to keep and bear arms for self defense. After the district of Columbia passed legislation allowing the registration of handguns, requiring a license for all pistols, along with a few other rules, a group of private gun owners came forward to claim that these new laws violated the second amendment. The court refused to grant the plaintiff relief, saying that the amendment only applies to militias, not private gun ownership. Then another court voted that it does protect private gun owners. In conclusion, the court declared that the second amendment did indeed protect individual rights to possess firearms and that it would be "unreasonable or inappropriate" to violate the second amendment. This is significant to American society because gun control is a major issue today. Many Americans own guns, and it is important for everyone to be educated on the laws concerning gun control.

In 2008, the supreme court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the second amendment protects an individuals rights to possess a firearm for lawful purposes such as self-defense within their home.

"District of Columbia V. Heller." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

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The 4th Amendment: The Right Against Unreasonably Searches and Seizures

Supreme Court Settles Latest Fourth Amendment Dog-Sniff Case

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her majority opinion that officers need a search warrant to conduct a dog sniff. During a traffic stop, after the driver, Rodriguez, was given the traffic violation ticket, the officer kept him there until a drug dog arrived and sniffed the car. Ginsburg believes that without reasonable suspicion, police extension of a traffic stop to wait for a dog to sniff the car violates the Constitutional Rights given to people against unreasonable searches and seizures. Rodriguez wants the drugs found to be thrown out because extending the stop for the dog sniff violates the 4th amendment. The judge ruled that there was probable cause, but the case is not over because a few other questions arose. The 4th amendment is clearly a huge part of this case because it was an unreasonable search/seizure. This case is important to US citizens because anyone can be pulled over at any time. People need to know their rights so they can defend themselves in cases like this one. Rodriguez should not have had to wait, after he was given the ticket for the traffic stop, for the dog to sniff his car.

"Supreme Court Settles Latest Fourth Amendment Dog-sniff Case." Constitution Daily. Constitution Daily, 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
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The 5th Amendment: The Right to Remain Silent

You Don't Have The Right To Remain Silent

Salinas was called into the police station the day after he attended a house party. Two other people who lived in that house were killed. Salinas was called to the police station for informal questioning. After two hours of informal questioning without being read his miranda rights, Salinas supposedly stopped talking when asked if his gun shells would match the ones at the crime scene. However, this questioning was informal an not taped. In court, police said he acted guilty when they asked this question. This relates to the fifth amendment and your miranda rights. Salinas was not read his Miranda rights because he was not arrested. This is important for everyone to know about because during informal questioning, or before someone is arrested, you do not have the right to remain silent and this can be used against you in court.

Garrett, Brandon L. "The Supreme Court Just Took Away Your Right to Remain Silent." Slate. N.p., 19 June 2013. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
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The 6th Amendment: The Right To Be Confronted With The Witnesses Against Him

A Murder Case Highlights an Odd Exception to the 6th Amendment

In 2008, Mark Jensen was convicted of first degree intentional homicide of his wife, Julie Jensen. During his trial, a letter was found, written by Julie before she died, saying that if she was found dead it was not suicide. She wrote that she thought her husband was planning to kill her. The court ruled that the letter written was allowed to be used as evidence during the trial because it was written by her, not just hearsay. The 6th amendment prevents hearsay from being used as real evidence in courts, but because it was written, it was allowed. It is important for US citizens to know about this because we need to know how the courts work and ways around the amendments. There are flaws and loopholes in the amendments that not everyone thinks about.

Colb, Sherry F. "A Murder Case Highlights an Odd Exception to the Sixth Amendment." Verdict. N.p., 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
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The 8th Amendment: The Right Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Roper v. Simmons

In 1993, 17 year old Christopher Simmons made a plan to kill a girl, Shirley Crook. The plan was to break and enter, get the girl, tie her up, and throw her off a bridge. At the trial, SImmons confessed to pre planning and killing the girl. Despite his age and clean record, he was found guilty, with the jury recommending a death sentence. The case was argued in 2004, saying it was cruel and unusual punishment to sentence juveniles to death. In the end, he was sentenced to death. This relates to the 8th amendment because there were questions about weather this was cruel and unusual punishment or not. It is important to individuals in the US today because it was fairly recent. There are also similar cases to this one today such as the two 12 year olds who stabbed their friend. Many question if they should be tried as juveniles or adults, and how long their sentence should be.

"Roper V. Simmons." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 2005. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
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The 10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.

10th Amendment Case Heads to the Supreme Court

Carol Anne Bond was excited to hear about her best friends pregnancy, until she found out that the father was Carol's husband. She was furios, looking for revenge. Carol was a trained microbiologist. She tried to poison her "bestfriend" with a toxic cocktail of rare chemicals countless times. Because the "bestfriends" injuries were minor, local government refused to step in, so she went to the federal government. There was a lot of confusion and disagreements, debating how Bond should be sentences. The local/state laws were different than the federal laws. Bond's attorny argues that under Pennsyvalnias aggravated assult laws, her punishment would have been 3 to 25 months, but because they went through the federal government, she was sentenced to 6 years in prison, 5 years of supervised probation, a $2,000 fines and $10,000 in restitution fees. Some said that the federal government violated the 10th amendment by over stepping its bounds. This is related to the 10th amendment because there is still some question on who had the responsibility and right to sentence Bond. This is important for US citizens to know about because it is something that could happen to anyone.

Rahn, Will. "10th Amendment Case Heads to Supreme Court." Daily Caller. N.p., 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
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