Civil Liberties and Rights

AP Go Po

First Amendment Freedoms

Core Vocabulary:

  • Writ of Habeas Corpus-court order directing the official holding the prisoner to bring him to a court official and explain why they are being held
  • Ex Post Facto Law-retroactive criminal law, increasing punishment after crime committed, lessening the proof necessary to convict for a crime after, or prosecution of a crime after the statute of limitation expired.
  • Bill of Attainder-legislative acts inflicting punishment and deprivation of property without trial

1st Amendment Court Cases Timeline:

Schenk v. USA (1919)

Gitlow v. New York (1925

Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township (1947)

NY Times v. Sullivan (1964)

Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)

Miller v. California (1973)

Stone v. Graham (1980)

Employment Division v. Smith (1990)

Reno v. American Civil Liverties Union (1997)

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002)

Van Orden v. Perry (2005)

McCreary v. ACLU of Kentucky (2005)


Due Process-a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law

Establishment-forbids the extablishment of a state religion

Free Exercise-no government can compel someone to accept any creed or deny the of their rights because of what thy do not believe

Free Speech

How far does it stretch?
  • Speech lies between action and belief, because it is not an absolute right, but not too exposed to government restraint.

Tests to free speech?

  • Bad Tendency Test-does the speech currupt society and lead to crime?
  • Clear and Present Danger-does the speech lead to riots, destruction of property, or coruption of elections?
  • Preferred Position Doctrine-says that the only thing punishable should be actions.

Protected types of free speech?

  • Prior restraint
  • Vague laws
  • Least Drastic Means
  • Content and Viewpoint Neutrality

Unprotected types of free speech?

  • libel, obscenity, fighting words, commercial speech

Limits on obscenity?

  • obscenity- if the average person would find the work appeals to an excessive interest in sex
  • protected if the work, taken as a whole, lacks literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

Fighting words?

  • unprotected because they may inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breech of the peace

Free Press

Do they have a right to know?
  • the press have a constitutional right to know
  • Sunshine Laws-government agencies must have their meetings open to the public.
  • president has a classification system for secret information

Free Press vs. Fair Trails and Due Process?

  • since reporters describe crimes in vivid details, "gag orders" may close the trial to the press in rare cases

Protections of other media

  • Handbills, sound trucks, and billboards
  • its hard for a government to prove that a film is obscene
  • movies, plays, concerts, and revues
  • broadcast and cable receive the 1st amendment protection

The internet?

  • illegal for web sites to make sexually explicit material avaliable for those under 17-very vague

Free Assembly

Public Forums?

  • places where free exercise is accepted

Local Rules on assembly?

  • not protected if the well being of others is threatened
  • not always the "bad guys"

Right to Privacy

Do you have a right to Privacy?

Privacy is ot stated in the constitution, but the Supreme Court gets do decide constitutionality of a law or action.

Supreme Court

  1. Griswold v. Connecticut-the Supreme Court stated that a law that banned the use of contracepteves violated marital privacy.
  2. Stanley v. Georgia-decided that posessession of obsenity is not punishable
  3. Roe v. Wade-state law banning abortions was unconstitutional.
  4. Bowers v. Hardwick-ruled that the constitution does not protect homosexual sodomy
  5. Lawrence v. Texas-state laws banning homosexual sodomy are unconstitutional because of the right to privacy.

"The Four States of Privacy"

  • Solitude-being alone, free from observation of others
  • Intimacy-the right to choose a friend or partner
  • Anonymity-free from identification
  • Reserve-hold back information

Property/Equal Rights

Chapter 16

  • How to you aquire and lose citizenship in the USA?

Acquire-people born in US are citizens, children born of an American citizen abroad are citizens, and to go through Naturalization

Lose-treason, expatriation

  • How does the constitution protect private property? How does the government take it away?

We have the right to own, use, rent, invest in, buy and sell property

Constitution forbids states from making anything excpt gold or silver legal tender to pay debts

contract clause-prevents states from extending the period for debtors to meet their payments

government has eminent domain, or the power to take private property for public use, and regulatory takings, or when the government takes property and claims that it was eminent domain.

  • What is the due process protection of the rights of the accused?

Protection of unreasonable searches and seizures

Limits on the use of deadly force

limits of stop and frisking

Miranda warnings


Chapter 17

  1. Timeline of the quest for equality - changes throughout history of the USA
  2. Voting Rights/Suffrage
  3. Explain the need of equality for the Chicano, Asian American, and Native American movements
  4. Is the a protection in place for equal education for all?
  5. Why is Affirmative Action controversial?