The First Amendment

AP Gov Stuff

Entry #1

Core vocabulary for protections in the Constitution:

Writ of habeas corpus- court order directing an official to deliver a prisoner to a court official and explain his imprisonment.

Ex post facto law- retroactive criminal law, increases punishment after the crime is committed.

Bill of attainder- legislative acts inflicting punishment.

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Timeline of court cases that protect first amendment rights:

Due Process- all citizens are entitled to life, liberty, and property.

Establishment- forbids the establishment of a state religion.

Free Exercise- government can't force citizens to accept any religion.


Free Speech: How far does it stretch? covers all forms of speech except libel, obscenity, fighting words, and commercial speech.

Tests to free speech? action, such as fighting is a test to the freedom of speech.

Protected types of free speech? any type of speech that does not put anyone in danger and does not corrupt society.

Limits on obscenity? citizens have the right to see it on their own will, but can't be put in public

Fighting Words? is not protected because it could cause harm

Hate speech? cannot be propaganda

Free Press: Do they have a right to know? yes, but they must obtain it legally.

Free Press vs. Fair Trials and Due Process? information can be falsified, or obtained illegally

Protections of other media? handouts, movies, and commercials are protected

The Internet? cannot make obscene content available to anyone under 17

Freedom of Assembly:

Public Forums? are protected because citizens have the freedom of speech and assembly

Local Rules on assembly? must be on streets and sidewalks, must abide by the restrictions on freedom of speech

Entry #2

Do you have a right to Privacy? The Constitution does not implacably guarantee American Citizens any rights to privacy, but BY GAWD imma have me some privacy!

What does the Constitution say about it? How has the Supreme Court ruled in the past?

  1. Griswold v. Connecticut- states cannot ban the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy. Overturned a presiding Connecticut law banning instruments to prevent conception.
  2. Stanley v. Georgia- Possession of obscenity cannot be punished because the Constitution does not say it is a punishable act. No precedents were set for this case.
  3. Roe v. Wade- Made abortion, within the first trimester, legal. This decision overturned many state laws, especially Texas, because Texans thump the Bible a little harder than everyone else because they're better than everyone else.
  4. Bowers v. Hardwick- states that gay adults can't engage in private, consensual sodomy. The ruling in this case upheld the existing Georgia Sodomy Statute.
  5. Lawrence v. Texas- Ruled that state laws banning homosexual sodomy were unconstitutional and violated citizens right to privacy. This overturned the previous Bowers v. Hardwick ruling.

"The Four States of Privacy"

-Solitude- free from observation of others

-Intimacy- freely choose partner

-Anonymity- being anonymous

-Reserve- not forced to tell anything

Entry #3

Property Rights/Equal Rights

Chapter 16

  1. How do you acquire and lose citizenship in the USA? You can become a citizen through the Naturalization process or being born here. You can lose your citizenship through the right of expatriation.
  2. How does the constitution protect private property? How does the government take it away? Through the fifth amendment, the Constitution protects citizens from eminent domain. The government can take private land, but must compensate the owner for the land.
  3. What is the due process protection of the rights of the accused? Substantive Due process stating that "unreasonable" law is not law.

Chapter 17

  1. Timeline of the quest for equality - changes throughout history of the USA -Seneca Falls Convention-1848- Woman Suffrage was discussed for the first time -Civil War- the first major equality advancement -1920- 19th amendment ratified -WW2- the military was desegregated -Civil Rights movement- 1955- was a major push for race equality
  2. Voting Rights/Suffrage- The voting rights amendments are 15, 19, 23, 24, 26. These amendments allow for every race and genders that are 18 years or older are able to vote and not have to pay to vote.
  3. Explain the need of equality for the Chicano, Asian American, and Native American movements- To truly live free, everyone needs equality. This question is worded oddly, because the need for equality is the essence of life. The push for Civil Rights in the 1960s was mainly focused on the denial of African American rights, causing Americans to overlook the needs of all other races.
  4. Is there a protection in place for equal education for all? Yes, there is a guarantee of education for all children in the United States.
  5. Why is Affirmative Action controversial? Affirmative action is controversial because it is essentially levels the playing field. Some citizens feel that, for example, in colleges the playing field shouldn't be leveled. Colleges allow on the creme of the crop students and this allows the school to give its students the best of educations. By allowing lower level students into these schools, the schools and higher end students will be suffering. Others who support Affirmative Action feel that it is a necessity to better the lives of other races, that are deprived of quality educations.
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