Bill of Rights

By: Elise Liegel

First Amendment - Freedom of Religion - Snyder vs. Phelps

The Snyder vs. Phelps is a great example of the First Amendment. It surfaces what you have the right to say or do with the showing of certain limitations, even though Westboro was protected. Westboro Baptist church claims that God is punishing the US for tolerating homosexuality by killing soldiers and causing 9/11. Snyder, who's the dad of the fallen soldier, was seriously offended when they were protesting his son's funeral. The Supreme Court ruled that Westboro Baptist Church were protesting on public issues in a public place. Therefore, they are protected. Even though this was inhumane to a lot of people, they were still protected under the First Amendment, Freedom of Religion. This is extremely important because it shows citizens what they can do to a certain extent. Although you would automatically think that this would be wrong in the eyes of the law, Westboro Baptist Church were innocent due to their expression of their religious beliefs. This is important because it opens the eyes of many and shows how awful a situation can be, but still receive protection under the First Amendment.
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First Amendment - Freedom of Speech/Expression - Bethel School District vs. Fraser

In this case Matthew Fraser made a speech to about 600 of his fellow classmates. The purpose of the speech was to nominate another student to another student for government office. The way in which he presented the speech, he used sexual and explicit language. The reaction of the audience lead to yelling and more explicit language and eventually got out of control. He admitted to making sexual comments and using explicit language which then lead to the administrators expelling Matthew Fraser. His right to speak at graduation was also taken away from him. Matthew decided to take action and sue the school for violating his right that is granted by the First Amendment, freedom of speech and or expression. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school district. Once a student enters a school, his freedom of speech and expression becomes limited in what he can or can't say as well as express himself. The school has the right to expel based on how disruptive the speech was. When a student enters school grounds, their speech and expression is still allowed and granted to them as a right, there are just certain limits as to how you use your right. As long as it is not disruptive and inappropriate, the student is protected. If you are like Matthew Fraser, you will lose the battle. This is important to citizens because it teaches students what they can or can't say as well as how they express what they are saying.
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Second Amendment - Right to Bear Arms - District of Columbia vs. Heller

When a man was refused of being granted a registered gun for his home, it lead to a very historical case that many people will refer to often. During this case, it surfaced what the Second Amendment grants a US citizen to own or do. The Supreme Court originally disagreed and banned the possession, but eventually went in favor of Heller. They reversed their original plan. They agreed with him in that it was a violation of his Second Amendment right when he wasn't granted a registered handgun for his home. This is important for the citizens to recognize because it shows what citizens have the right to involving the Second Amendment. This shows people that they can't have the right of owning a gun taken away from them, allows them to register for any guns and poses them as they please. This case showed citizens what they have the right to do. In this case, it proved that any one citizen has the right to own any handgun they please as long as it is registered for.
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Fourth Amendment - Protection from Unreasonable Searches - Vernonia School District vs. Acton

In the Vernonia School District vs. Acton the students of the school think that they violated the rights of the students by using unreasonable drug searches. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches, in this case, the police had every right. Within the Vernonia School District there were many students abusing drugs and becoming extremely disruptive on school premises. The teachers and staff decided to search the students at random in order to try to put a stop to this. The students felt that this was unreasonable since they were being searched at random. The Supreme Court decided that this was not an unfair and unreasonable search. Since it was on school properties, it was allowed. If the students were acting disruptive and using drugs on school, they have every right to search the students. This is important for the citizen of the US because it shows them what they can and can't do while being on school grounds. If you can't do it anywhere else, you can't get away with it at school. This case started the dog searches, where students bring drugs onto campus, and the police have the right to search them and confiscate their drugs if they come across any. This helps keep schools a safe and healthy environment for all students and staff. This helps keep the students in line, safe and healthy.
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Sixth Amendment - Right to a Prompt Trial - Cunningham vs. California

According to the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to process of trial by jury, speedy trial, which just means the right to a fair trial. In this case, John Cunningham's rights were taken away. He had was charged with sexual abuse to his young son, but the judge had sentenced him to the maximum penalty, which in this case was 16 years. However, he came to this decision disregarding the jury. He made the decision on his own based off of his opinions. That is not a fair trial, John Cunningham took action. His appeal was denied at first, but the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. They then agreed with Cunningham in that California's sentencing system circumvented the process of trial by jury. This is a very important case to recognize because it shows the rights you have when it comes to court. It's good to be aware of what your rights are in case you go to trial or sit in as a part of the jury. The citizens of the US should always be aware of what their rights are, especially what rights they have when it comes to court. This case is significant because it brings awareness to any unfair trials. It makes it known of what rights you have and how you can have, or be a part of a fair trial.
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Fifth Amendment - Rights to Life, Liberty and Property - Kansas vs. Cheever

Cheever had claimed that methamphetamine intoxication reserved his ability to commit murder. The court then decided Cheever had to submit a psychiatric evaluation. The report surfaced that Cheever committed murder due to his 'antisocial personality.' He was then sentenced to the death penalty. Cheever then tried to say that the forcing of a psychiatric evaluation was in violation of his fifth amendment rights in not having to testify against yourself. The Supreme Court denied the request and remained with the original sentence, which was the death penalty. This is important because it shows citizens that they can't try to get out of a sentence by pleading mentally ill but then change it around when they find that you are not. You fifth amendment rights are not in violation if the court has you evaluated in certain ways. If the court does and they find the person mentally ill, they can't be sentenced to death. In this case, he was just fine and tried to turn it around. Citizens need to understand that they're fifth amendment rights protect them in many ways, but people need to be smart. If you are guilty, you deserve what you're sentenced.
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Eighth Amendment - No Cruel or Unusual Punishment - Roper vs. Simmons

Christopher Simmons was sentenced to the death penalty at the age of seventeen in 1993. The case reopened in 2002 when it was ruled as cruel and unusual punishment when sentencing mentally ill to the death penalty. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Simmons in that seeking out the death penalty at age seventeen is cruel and unusual punishment. Five versus four of the Supreme Court decided that the death penalty for children under the age of eighteen was ruled as cruel and unusual punishment. This case had a severe impact on our court system and how children versus adults receive their punishments in court. Due to this case, it prevents children from being sentenced to the death penalty. Only if they are tried in juvenil court. If they are tried as adults, they could receive the death penalty. This case is important for US citizens to understand because it teaches people that they can't be sentenced to death unless they are tried as adults or over the age of eighteen. This case changed the way we deal with children's court cases. This is important because it helps to better figure out what the best punishment is for children under the age of eighteen.
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Seventh Amendment - Right to Jury - Feltner vs. Columbia Pictured Television Inc.

Feltner's shows were terminated, but Feltner decided to broadcast them as copyright. When this went to court and he was charged for copyright, he claimed his seventh amendment was in violation. Columbia sued Feltner after he continued to broadcast the programs for copyright infringement. After the had won partial summary, (judgement as to liability on its copyright infringement), Columbia tried to recover statutory damages of the Copyright Act. The District Court denied Feltner's request for a jury trial and awarded Columbia statutory damages. Then followed a bench trial, the Court of Appeals didn't hold the Seventh Amendment providing a right to a jury on statutory damages. Feltner was refused his appeal in saying his rights were taken away. The Supreme Court decided that Feltner had no rights violated whatsoever. This is important for citizens to realize that, just because you think you didn't do anything wrong doesn't mean that you can appeal to one of your rights being taken away. This shows that if you commit a crime, you must own up to it and accept your punishment without trying to find a way out of it by picking at little things. This teaches citizens what the Seventh Amendment is, and when you are not cut short of these rights.
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Bibliography

"Kansas v. Cheever: Supreme Court Issues Key Fifth Amendment Decision." Constitutional Law Reporter. N.p., 26 Dec. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. <http://scarinciattorney.com/kansas-v-cheever-supreme-court-issues-key-fifth-amendment-decision/>.

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"{{meta.fullTitle}}." {{meta.fullTitle}}. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2007/07-290>.

"Snyder vs. Phelps." United States Courts. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2015. <http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-snyder-v-phelps>.

"Your 1st Amendment Rights." The Judicial Learning Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. <http://judiciallearningcenter.org/your-1st-amendment-rights/>.

"Your 4th Amendment Rights." The Judicial Learning Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. <http://judiciallearningcenter.org/your-4th-amendment-rights/>.