Entry #1 - Chapter 15 (4/22)

Caitlyn McDonnell

Core Vocabulary for Protections in the Constitution

Writ of habeas corpus: a court order requiring explanation to a judge why a prisoner is being held in custody.

Ex post facto law: laws applied to acts committed beore passage of the laws are unconstitutional.

Bill of attainder: prohibits a person being found guilty of a crime without a trial.

Timeline of Court Cases that Protect 1st Amendment Rights

Stone v. Graham (1980) - Court held unconstitutional a Kentucky statute requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments in public school rooms.

Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (2004) - denied Michael A. Newdow, an atheist, to sue on behalf of his daughter because he was not her legal guardian.

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) - found Ohio's program to be neutral and permissible; addressed the constitutionality of voucher programs.

Cutter v. Wilkinson (2005) - upheld it as a permissible governmental accommodation of religious practices.

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Explanation 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: the first clause of the 1st Amendment; it prohibits the national government from establishing a national religion.

Free Exercise Clause: the second clause of the 1st Amendment; it prohibits the U.S. government from interfering with a citizen's right to practice his or her religion.

Free Speech: How far does it stretch?

There is ideally no limits on free speech, but the U.S. applied limits. For example, yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater; this could cause harm in the panic when there is actually no fire. Offensive speech is not limited, someone may get offended, but another may not.

Free Press: Do they have a right to know?

The Supreme Court refuses to acknowledge that the press has a constitutional right to know, but it did concede that the press, has a 1st Amendment right to be present at criminal trials.

Free Press v. Fair Trails and Due Process? Free comment is protected. Judges can impose "gag orders" on attorneys and jurors but NOT on the press.

Protections of other Media: when the 1st Amendment was written, the "freedom of press" referred to leaflets, newspapers, and books. Now, the amendment protects the mails, motion pictures, billboards, radio, tv, cable, phones, fax machines, and the internet.

Freedom of Assembly

The Constitution gives the right to speak, but doesn't give people the right to communicate their views to everyone, in every place, at every time they wish. No one has the right to block traffic or to hold parades or make speeches in public streets or on public sidewalks whenever he or she wishes.

Public Forums: are public places historically associated with the free exercise of expressive activities, such as streets, sidewalks, and parks.

Local Rules on Assembly?

Entry #2 - Right to Privacy (4/25)

Do You Have a Right to Privacy?

- The Constitution does not mention the right to privacy.

- In Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Supreme Court pulled together elements of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 14th Amendments to recognize that personal privacy is one of the rights the Constitution protects.

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

1. Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) - the Supreme Court pulled together elements of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 14th Amendments to recognize that personal privacy is one of the rights the Constitution protects.

2. Stanley v. Georgia (1969) - the Supreme Court held that states cannot prohibit a citizen from having obscene material for personal use.

3. Roe v. Wade (1973) - Supreme Court established national abortion guidelines; trimester guidelines; no state interference in 1st; state may regulate to protect health of mother in 2nd; state may regulate to protect health of unborn child in 3rd. Inferred from right of privacy established in Griswold v. Connecticut.

4. Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) - Supreme Court refused to extend such protection to private relations between homosexuals.

5. Lawrence v. Texas (2003) - Supreme Court struck down Texas's law making homosexual sodomy a crime.

The Four States of Privacy

1. Solitude: as close to being aone as one can get; free from obsesrvation of others

2. Intimacy: this is when a person has the right to choose their friend or partner, without concern of what others will think.

3. Anonymity: free from identification and supervision.

4. Reserve: free to hold back information that we wish to keep to ourselves; not forced to disclose information unless a person chooses to.

Entry #3 - Chapter 16 (4/26)

How do you acquire and lose citizenship in the USA?

How to acquire citizenship: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." -14th Amendment. Naturalization is a legal act conferring citizenship on an alien.

How to lose citizenship: Right of expatriation (the right to renounce one's citizenship).

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

How does the Constitution protect private property? The property itself does not have rights, but the people have the right to own, use, rent, invest in, buy, and sell property. The contract clause (Article 1, Section 10) is originally intended to prohibit state governments from modifying contracts made between individuals; for a while interpreted as prohibiting state governments from taking actions that adversely affect property rights; no longer interpreted so broadly and no longer constrains state governments from exercising their police powers.

How does the government take it away? Both national and state governments have the power of eminent domain (the power to take private property for public use, but the owner must be fairly compensated).

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

- need to have a valid search warrant

- 14th Amendment states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and teh persons or things to be seized."

Entry #3 - Chapter 17 (4/26)

Timeline of the quest for equality - changes throughout history of the USA?

- Racial Equality: the Civil War (1861-1865), the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were passed.

- 1860s-1870s: Congress passed civil rights laws to implement these amendments.

- 1930s: African Americans were challenging the doctrine of segregation in the courts.

- 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: prohibited racially segregated public schools and subsequently struck down most of the devices that state andlocal authorities had used to keep African Americans from voting.

- 1940s-1950s: Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower used their executive authority to fight segregation in the armed services and the federal bureaucracy.

- MLK, the 1960s

Voting Rights/Suffrage

1919: the 19th Amendment passed. This granted women and African Americans the right to vote.

Explain the need of equality for the Chicano, Asian Americans, and Native American movements

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

- Plessy v. Ferguson (1896): the Supreme Court endorsed the view that government-imposed racial segregaton in public transportation, and presumably in public education, did not necessarily constitute discrimination if "equal" accommodations were provided for the members of both races.

- Brown v. Board of Education (1954): the Court finally held that the Plessy doctrine did not apply to public schools by ruling that "seperate but equal" is a contradiction in terms.

- The Court ordered school boards to proceed with "all deliberate speed to desgregate public schools at the earliest practical date."

Why is Affirmative Action controversial?

It results in "reverse discrimination," meaning discrimination against white people (mainly white men)