The Importance of Rights
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The Importance of Rights. What have we learned?. Kurt Van Deren. In 1787, delegates of the thirteen States met in Philadelphia and drafted a remarkable document—the Constitution.

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The Importance of Rights

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The Importance of Rights

What have we learned?

Kurt Van Deren

In 1787, delegates of the thirteen States met in Philadelphia and drafted a remarkable document—the Constitution.

But while the Constitution outlined what the new government could do, it did not define what the government could not do.

Kurt Van Deren

Having a distrust of government after having been a part of an oppressive government in England, citizens of the thirteen States wanted a more limited government.

The solution was a “bill of rights” limiting the power of the federal government.

Anti-Federalists thought a list of specific rights was unnecessary, but Federalists refused to agree to the Constitution without such a list.

Kurt Van Deren

Those specific rights, which make up the first ten amendments to the Constitution, are known as the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights was introduced in the first United States Congress in 1789 by James Madison.

The Bill of Rights took effect on December 15, 1791, after being approved by three-fourths of the States.

Kurt Van Deren

What rights does the Bill of Rights protect?

(1) Congress will make no law establishing or prohibiting a religion, or preventing free speech, freedom of the press, or free assembly.

(2) Recognizing the need for a well-armed militia, you have the right to keep and bear arms.

(3) You have the right to refuse to allow soldiers to stay in your home unless instructed to do so during war time.

(4) You have the right not to be searched unreasonably, and warrants must only be issued based on probable cause.

(5) You can’t be tried for a serious crime without being charged by a Grand Jury, you can’t be tried twice for the same crime, and the government can’t take your property without due process of law.

Kurt Van Deren

What rights does the Bill of Rights protect?

(6) In criminal cases, you have the right to a speedy trial in front of an impartial jury, to be told of the charges you face, and to be represented by an attorney.

(7) You have the right to a jury in certain civil cases (cases involving disagreements between two people, instead of cases involving crimes).

(8) You can’t be required to pay too much bail or be subject to cruel and unusual punishment for a crime.

(9) You have other rights, besides those listed in the Constitution.

(10) The powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution are left to the States and to individuals.

Kurt Van Deren

Now that you’ve learned about First Amendment rights, lets look at how a journalist puts together an article, leading to an informed public.

For accurate, unbiased reporting…

  • Leave your opinion out of the story. Include only cited facts and details and quotes from sources.

  • Sources must be identified in the article and quotes must be word for word.

  • Don’t rely on one source. Talk to multiple people to get all sides of the story.

  • Double check your facts. If you aren’t sure, call your source back.


The Five W’s, one H








The inverted pyramid

  • Hard news stories (ie- breaking news, crime) often follows an inverted pyramid structure


Start with…..

  • A summary lead, which summarizes in the first sentence what the story is about. It gets directly to the point.

    Follow with…

  • A nut graph, or the focus graph, a paragraph that explains the point of the story. It usually follows the lead, but if a lead has that information, a nut graph isn’t always necessary.


  • Add supporting points in descending order of importance. Start with the “who, what, where, when, and why” and follow the information with details, and gradually less important information until the whole story is told.

  • Incorporate quotes throughout the story.

  • Be sure to cite your sources!


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  • --Religion

  • --Speech

  • --Press

  • --Assembly

  • --Petitition

The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights

Matt Kowalski

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

The school paper is censored by the principal

The student editors believe their First Amendment rights were violated

-- Censorship of the press infringes on First Amendment rights

-- The two removed pages contained articles besides the ones in question

-- The principal offered the students no chance to revise the paper for another publication

-- The students names were changed to protect their privacy in the two articles about teen pregnancy and the impacts of divorce on students

-- Students need to report all sides of the story

-- Issues like birth control, divorce, sexual activity, and teen pregnancy are not appropriate a high school newspaper

-- It is within the rights of a school official to censor material that can disrupt the school environment or infringe on any student’s right to privacy

Matt Kowalski

The Press Serves as a Government Watchdog

  • The press informs the public of the inner workings of government and the effects of laws that they pass

  • Through investigative reporting, journalists have uncovered stories like the Watergate Scandal and the human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay


Matt Kowalski

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

  • The Hazelwood School district argued that the paper was funded by the school and therefore they had a right to edit the paper as they saw fit.

  • The students argued that the paper was a public forum and it was their right and duty to inform readers on topics that affect their lives.

  • The students believed that these two articles would not disrupt the school.

  • The case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court and on Jan. 13, 1985 the Court delivered a split a 5-3 split decision in favor of the Hazelwood School District. The decision overruled a Court of Appeals reversal the original District Court ruling.

Matt Kowalski

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