Rights, Liberties, and Privacy

Thomas Webb

Entry 1

Protections in the Constitution

writ of habeas corpus- court order requiring police officials to produce an individual held in custody and show sufficient cause for that person's detention

ex post facto law- law that would allow a person to be punished for an action that was not against the law when it was committed

bill of attainder- law that punishes a person accused of a crime without a trial or a fair hearing in court

Timeline of Court Cases that Protect 1st Amendment Rights

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Explanations of Clauses

due process- clause contained in the 5th and 14th Amendments, over the years, it has been construed to guarantee to individuals a variety of rights ranging from economic liberty to criminal procedural rights to protection from arbitrary governmental action

establishment- clause in the 1st Amendment that states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, the Supreme Court has interpreted this to forbid governmental support to any or all religions

free exercise- clause in the 1st Amendment that states that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion

Free Speech: How far does it stretch?

Tests to Free Speech

bad tendency test- permitted legislatures to forbid speech encouraging people to engage in illegal action

clear and present danger test- government cannot interfere with speech unless it presents a clear and present danger that it will lead to evil or illegal acts

miller test- rule used by the courts in which the definition of obscenity must be based on local standards

Protected Types of Free Speech: all speech is protected unless it falls into a category of libel, obscenity, fighting words, or comerrcial speech

Limits on Obscenity: work is considered legally obscene if:

-average persons finds that it appeals to a prurient interest in sex

-the work depicts patently offensive sexual conduct

-the work lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

fighting words- words that by their very nature inflict injury upon those to whom they are addressed or cause acts of violence by them

hate speech- speech made to offend someone

Free Press: Do they have a right to know?

Free Press vs. Fair Trials and Due Process

In the US, free comment is protected. The Supreme Court cannot restrain reporters from talking about an ongoing trial. While federal rules of criminal procedure forbid radio and photographic coverage of criminal cases in federal courts, most states still permit televising courtroom proceedings.

Protections of Other Media

-the mails, handbills, sound trucks, billboards, motion pictures, plays, broadcasts, and cable communications all have various degrees of protection under the 1st amendment

The Internet

-Reno v. ACLU struck down provisions that made it illegal to send obscene messages to anyone under the age of 18

-in 2004, the Supreme Court held that the Child Online Protection Act of 1998 was unenforceable and struck down the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996

Freedom of Assembly

public forums- government owned property that is open to public expression and assembly, such as streets, sidewalks, parks, etc.

-local rules on assembly allow local governments to classify if an assembly is a form of civil disobedience

Entry 2

Do you have a right to privacy?

-the constitution is silent about privacy rights, but Supreme Court rulings have drawn aspects of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 14th to amendments to recognize that personal privacy is protected by the constitution in the ways of:

-the right to be free from government surveillance or intrusion

-the right to not have private affairs be made public by the government

-the right to be free in thought and belief from governmental regulations

Supreme Court Rulings

griswold v. connecticut- 1965 decision that the Constitution implicitly guarantees citizens' right to privacy

stanley v. georgia- 1969 decision that people do have the right to possess obscene materials, just not to sell them

roe v. wade- 1973 decision that decriminalized abortion

bowers v. hardwick- 1986 decision that ruled the constitution did not protect the practice of sodomy between homosexuals, and that the states could ban sodomy

lawrence v. texas- 2003 decision that overturned Bowers v. Hardwick and declared a state law banning sodomy to be an unconstitutional intrusion on the right to privacy

The Four States of Privacy

solitude

anonymity

reserve

intimacy

Entry 3

How do you acquire and lose citizenship in the US?

-the 14th amendment states that all children born in the US (including territories) or born to an American citizen outside of the US is an American citizen. Citizenship can also be acquired through naturalization

-citizenship cannot be taken for committing crimes; citizenship can only be lost if the citizenship was secured by deception during the process of naturalization or if one renounces their own citizenship through the right of expatriation


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

-the constitution protects private property through the contract clause, which prohibits states from modifying property contracts between individuals and for a brief time prohibited state goverments from taking actions that adversely affected property rights

-the government can take away private property by using its power of eminent domain, which allows the government to take private property for public use as long as the owner of the property is fairly compensated

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

-due process protects the rights of the accused by ensuring that all people are treated equally under the law, prohibiting unlawful searches and seizures, double jeopardy, and self-incrimination, guaranteeing them the right to trial and counsel, and no cruel and unusual punishments under the law

Timeline of the Quest for Equality

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Voting Rights/Suffrage

15th amendment- gave black men the right to vote

19th amendment- gave women the right to vote

24th amendment- outlawed the poll tax

26th amendment- lowered the voting age to 18

-white primaries, racial gerrymandering, poll taxes, and literacies tests made illegal

-Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed to ensure no person would be denied the right to vote because of race

Need for Equality

Chicano Movement:

Many hispanics have been americans for generations, but because many speak Spanish as their first language over English, it has made it very difficult for them to establish themselves in the US. This inequality has also been overlooked due to the fact that many hispanics are not registered to vote, and thus the chicano movement is seeking equality to fix the injustices the hispanic people have faced.

Asian American Movement:

Many asian americans have faced much discrimination over the years, especially Japanese-Americans due to Japan's bombing on Pearl Harbor in WWII. Japanese-Americans were even sent into interment camps during this time, and repercussions of those events are still prevalent to this day. While some asian americans have begin to make their way into the mainstream of american society, there are still many who face discrimination and the asian american movement seeks equality in order to end these prejudices.

Native American Movement:

Native Americans used to inhabit all of what is now the US, but have had basically the entirety of their land taken from them by Americans and been forced to lived on reservations that are tiny fractions of what their land used to be. Native Americans make up only a tiny portion of the US population, and many reservations suffer from high unemployment and lack sufficient health care, education, and housing centers. The Native American movement needs to equality to ensure that their people are treated correctly by the US and to help right the wrongs they have faced over hundreds of years.

Is there a protection in place for equal education of all?

-while Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and made segregation illegal, it did not guarantee a protection for the equal education for all. The process of integration was made difficult due to the fact that most black and white people already lived in separate communities, and many schools continued to make the process of integration more difficult by refusing to integrate. After many years, this issued has faded away for the most part but its effects have lasted and contributed to the problem that not everyone is born with the equal opportunity for education

Why is Affirmative Action Controversial?

-affirmative action is controversial because its opponents consider it as reverse discrimination. Proponents claim that minority groups need additional assistance of many years after being held down and discriminated against, while opponents claim affirmative action programs are only used to discriminate against white people and protest their enactment. The Supreme Court Case, The University of California Regents v. Bakke, highlights the controversy of affirmative action as a white male, Bakke, was denied admission to the university while minority students with lower grades were admitted instead