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American Government and Politics Today

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Presentation on theme: "American Government and Politics Today"— Presentation transcript:

1 American Government and Politics Today
Chapter 4 Civil Liberties

2 The Bill of Rights Origins - colonists’ fear of a tyrannical government Federalists agreed to amend the Constitution to include a Bill of Rights after ratification This placed limitations on the government and thus protected citizens’ civil liberties

3 The Bill of Rights and State Governments
The original Bill of Rights did not apply to state governments The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) imposed, step-by-step, most Constitutional protections of civil liberties upon state governments Incorporation theory: the view that most protections of the Bill of Rights apply to state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause

4 Freedom of Religion: The Establishment Clause
Setting up “a wall of separation of Church and State” Aid to church-related schools School vouchers School prayer—Engel v. Vitale Prayer outside the classroom The Ten Commandments The teaching of evolution Religious speech

5 Freedom of Religion: The Free Exercise Clause
Guarantees the free exercise of religion, and is restrained when religious practices interfere with public policy Examples: the ability of school districts to select texts for students; the requirement of vaccinations for school enrollment The Religious Freedom Restoration Act Free exercise in public schools

6 Freedom of Expression No prior restraint Protection of symbolic speech
Protection of commercial speech Permitted restrictions on expression Clear and present danger Modifications: the bad-tendency rule, the grave and probable rule

7 Freedom of Expression (continued)
Unprotected Speech Obscenity Slander Pornography and Internet pornography Campus speech Hate speech on the Internet

8 Freedom of the Press Libel: a written defamation of character
Public figures must meet higher standards than ordinary people to win a libel suit A free press versus a fair trial Gag order: the right of a defendant to a fair trial supersedes the right of the public to “attend” the trial Film, radio, and television This freedom is no longer limited to print media, though broadcast media do not receive the same protection as print media

9 The Right to Assemble and Petition the Government
The Supreme Court has held that state and local governments cannot bar individuals from assembling However, they can require permits for assembly so that order can be maintained, though they cannot be selective as to who receives permits Street gangs Online assembly

10 Matters of Privacy There is no explicit Constitutional right to privacy – it is an interpretation by the Supreme Court drawn from the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments The right was established in in Griswold v. Connecticut Privacy rights in an information age

11 Privacy Rights and Abortion
In Roe v. Wade (1973) the court held that governments could not prohibit abortions, as this would violate a woman’s right to privacy The Supreme Court has issued many decisions on the boundaries of state regulations concerning abortion The controversy continues

12 Privacy Rights and the Right to Die
Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1997): a patient’s life support could be withdrawn at the request of a family member if there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the patient did not want the treatment This has led to the popularity of advance health directives, commonly called living wills What if there is no living will?

13 Privacy Rights and the Right to Die (continued)
Physician-assisted suicide - the Court has stated that the Constitution does not imply a right to commit suicide This decision has given states much leeway to legislate on this issue Only Oregon has legalized physician-assisted suicide

14 Privacy Rights versus Security Issues
Privacy rights have taken on particular importance since September 11, 2001 Rules such as the proposed “roving” wiretap legislation may violate the Fourth Amendment The USA Patriot Act Concerns about civil liberties

15 The Rights of the Accused versus the Rights of Society
Fourth Amendment No unreasonable or unwarranted search or seizure No arrest except on probable cause Fifth Amendment No coerced confession No compulsory self-incrimination

16 The Rights of the Accused (continued)
Sixth Amendment Legal counsel Informed of charges Speedy and public jury trial Impartial jury of one’s peers Eighth Amendment Reasonable bail No cruel or unusual punishment

17 Extending the Rights of the Accused
Miranda v. Arizona (1966): requires police to inform suspects of their rights A “public safety” exception to Miranda says that illegal confessions need not bar a conviction if other evidence is strong, and that suspects must claim their rights unequivocally

18 Extending the Rights of the Accused (continued)
In the future, a procedure such as video recording of interrogations might satisfy Fifth Amendment requirements The exclusionary rule: prohibits the admission of illegally seized evidence

19 The Death Penalty Is the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment?
Or is it a useful method for dealing with the worst criminals?


21 The Death Penalty Today
The death penalty is allowed in 37 states Time limits for death row appeals The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 limits appeals from death row DNA testing has freed about 100 death row inmates who were wrongly convicted, casting more doubt on the use of capital punishment

22 Questions for Critical Thinking
What do you think is the historical basis for civil liberties? Are Americans as concerned today about the protection of their civil liberties as were our founders? Do you think the libel laws restrict a free press? Should the press be allowed to publish anything it wants about a person? Should the press have to prove that everything published is absolutely true?

23 Questions for Critical Thinking
Why are the rights of the accused so important? Is there any way to strike a balance between the rights of the victims and the rights of the accused?

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