Civil Liberties – American Government

Civil Liberties – American Government

The framers of the Constitution believed they were creating a national government of strictly limited powers. Therefore, they felt that it should not be necessary to make a special list of those things the government could do regarding speech or press. However, they suspected—rightly, as it turned out—that the government might well try to act in ways it was not expressly authorized to act, and they insisted that a list of things that government should not do become part of the constitution. Hence, the Bill of Rights was added shortly after the Constitution was ratified. These rights, originally intended only for federal application and enforcement, have since been broadened to apply to more and more state cases regarding civil liberties. When you read this chapter, keep in mind the importance of the Bill of Rights and the impact it has had on today’s American society. Consider what our government and society would be like without the Bill of Rights.

Essay Questions. Answer the following questions thoroughly. These questions must be submitted for grading. Take your time and completely answer each one. Remember: Do not copy your answers from the textbook. Each answer should be one to two pages long.

1.    Over the years, the Supreme Court has identified three different kinds of speech protected by the First Amendment. Identify and define each of these kinds of speech.

2.    Explain the meaning of “due process” and identify the rights associated with it.

3.    The “right to privacy” is an area the court is just beginning to explore. What are the legal bases for this as a civil liberty? What notable rulings has the court made on this issue?

4.    Briefly define civil liberties and then identify the bases in law of these liberties. Choose one of the three major categories of civil liberties examined in this chapter (e.g., freedom of expression, rights of criminal defendants, and the right to privacy) and then discuss some of the court rulings that have established their current interpretations.