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The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights

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The Bill of Rights

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  1. The Bill of Rights

  2. Why a Bill of Rights?

  3. The Controversy • Constant Interpretation • Evolving Society (Abortion, Gay Rights, Crime, Human Rights, etc.) • Which is more important? *What the writers of the Bill of Rights exactly meant, or what is deemed best for society today?

  4. Jefferson & Constitutions • Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the proceeding age a wisdom more than human, suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well and belonged to it….It deserved well of its country….But I know, also that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered, and manners and opinions change of circumstance, institutions must advanced also, and keep pace with the times.

  5. Madison • Would not a Government so often revised become too mutable to retain those prejudices in its favor which antiquity inspires, and which are perhaps a salutary aid to the most rational Government in the most enlightened age? • Would not such a periodical revision engender pernicious factions that might not otherwise come into existence?

  6. What is the Bill of Rights? • Bill of Rights= The first ten amendments (addition/changes) to the Constitution

  7. Who Determines What the Bill of Rights Means?

  8. Rights of the Individualvs Needs of Society Balancing Act

  9. 5 Rights of the 1st Amendment • Freedom of Speech • Freedom of Religion • Freedom of the Press • Freedom of Assembly • Right to Petition the Government

  10. Freedom of Speech • “Congress shall make no Laws…abridging the freedom of speech”

  11. : Free Speech Allows • Express any political beliefs • Protest within reason • Say things about someone that are true • Say racist and hate slogans

  12. Limits on Free Speech • Threats (blow up airplanes, schools, or harm the president). • Sexual harassment • Cause social chaos (fighting words) • Hate Crimes • Obscenity • Miller Test (next slide) • Offensive language (schools, work) • Depends on state, local laws

  13. Miller Test • Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient (unwholesome) interest, • Whether the work depicts/describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or specifically defined by applicable state law, • Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.


  15. A student comes to a school wearing an anti-war armband. Until the student decided to do this, the school had no specific policy prohibiting armbands. The administration tells the student that they are not allowed to wear the armband and will be suspended if they do. In response the students claim violation of free speech. Who is right & why?

  16. Tinker v. Des Moines

  17. The issues: Banning burning or unpopular speech? Many other parts of the code are ignored Burn the flag?

  18. Freedom of Religion • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” • Two Clauses (parts) 1-Establishment Clause 2-Free Exercise Clause

  19. If a student raises their hand and asks, “Teacher can we say a prayer before we take an exam?” If the teacher says: “Yes”, it looks like establishment of religion. “No”, denies free exercise. The Two Clauses Conflict

  20. Lemon Test • States that in order to be constitutional under the Establishment clause, any practice sponsored within state run schools (or other public, state sponsored activities) must: 1) have a secular (non-religious) purpose 2) must neither advance nor inhibit religion 3) must not result in an excessive entanglement between government and religion.

  21. Establishment Clause-Cans • Teach about religions in school. • Allow voluntary prayer in many examples. • Read religious texts for culture or literary content.

  22. Establishment Clause-Cannots • Set a state religion • Order a prayer • Preach religious doctrine • Pay religious teachers

  23. Free Exercise Clause-Cans • Choose any religion • Lead a prayer most of the time • Ask questions about religions • Worship how you prefer

  24. Free Exercise-Cannots • Break the law on claims of religious belief • Raise children without an education • Deprive children of the basic needs

  25. Freedom of the Press • “Congress shall make no law…abridging… the freedom of the press.”

  26. Freedom of the Press-Cans • Print any political position • Make fun of people in print • Expose wrongs by the government

  27. Freedom of the Press-Cannot • Libel-intentionally harming a person’s reputation with untrue claims. • Most libel cases are civil suits, not criminal (depends on state—Utah does) • Actual Malice is required for public figures =know it is false or reckless in reporting. • Disclose security secrets • Details on weapon building

  28. Situation • A high school student reacted to the taunts and harassment of his classmates by creating a Web site and posting a home page laced with obscenities and vulgar accusations about the principal, teachers, other school staff and various students. As a result, Lake spent seven days in juvenile detention — after having been arrested and having his computer confiscated. • •

  29. Cans 1-Protest 2-Parade with a permit 3-Groups can congregate in public. Cannots 1-Protest by causing destruction 2-Loiter Freedom of Assembly

  30. Some Assembly Examples #1 Virginia v. Hicks, the city of Richmond made the streets and sidewalks of a housing project off-limits to unauthorized people to curb drugs and other crime in the area. Kevin Hicks, a visitor who was arrested, claimed his rights of association and free speech were violated. #2=Chicago’s Gang Congregation Ordinance prohibit[ed] "criminal street gang members" from loitering in public places. Under the ordinance, if a police officer observes a person whom he reasonably believes to be a gang member loitering in a public place with one or more persons, he shall order them to disperse. Anyone who does not promptly obey such an order has violated the ordinance.. -Chicago vs Morales • On Private Property? • Curfews? –End Bell Work •

  31. Petition the Government =Your right to present issues/ requests to the government without punishment(letters, emails, protests, signature campaigns). =You may sue the government. =You cannot be punished for exposing the government.

  32. 2nd Amendment • “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.”

  33. The Issues • What the 2nd Amendment means? • “Bear Arms”=Militia vs. Firearms? • Upholding the 2nd Amendment while keeping guns from criminals. • What types of weapons are we entitled to under the 2nd Amendment?

  34. Third Amendment • The government cannot force you to shelter soldiers in your home in times of war or peace.

  35. Amendments 4-8, The Rights of the Accused

  36. 4th Amendment “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 the oath or affirmation , and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person and things to be seized.”

  37. 4th Amendment- In order to conduct a search or a seizure, the police are required to have probable cause in order to obtain a warrant.

  38. Levels of Suspicion 1-Reasonable Suspicion-some facts lead to possibility that criminal act occurred. • Allows for brief detention by police & search if weapon is thought to be possessed. 2-Probable Cause-significant reason to believe a crime has been committed. • Allows for search and seizure. 3-Conviction-enough evidence to prove guilty in court of law

  39. The Big Questions • What constitutes a search? -Ex: Frisks Police may stop a person if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed or is about to commit a crime, and may frisk the suspect for weapons if they have reasonable suspicion that the suspect is armed and dangerous, without violating the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

  40. The Big Questions • What constitutes a seizure? Ex: Questioning, Citizen’s Arrest, Recent Cases: Drug Dogs, GPS devices on cars, Intrusive Drug Searches.

  41. Exceptions to a Warrant • Plain View • Open Area (but not area around a home) • Vehicle Exception • Public Schools • Related to Arrest

  42. 5th Amendment • No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

  43. Fifth Amendment • A Grand Jury hears evidence in serious cases before a trial. • You cannot be tried for the same crime twice-DoubleJeopardy. • You do not have to testify against yourself (Self-incrimination). • You are guaranteed due process of the law. • The government cannot take your land without payment.

  44. 6th Amendment • In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense

  45. Sixth Amendment • Right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury=not favoring either side • You must be told of charges. • Accusers have to testify. • You must be provided with a lawyer if you cannot afford one. • Self-representation

  46. No excessive bail No cruel and unusual punishment Debate (Death Penalty): -Mentally Retardation (ruled unconstitutional 2002) -Mentally Ill -Juveniles (ruled unconstitutional in 2005) Eighth Amendment

  47. The Other Amendments • The Seventh Amendment: • The right to trial by jury if sued. • Ninth Amendment: • A right cannot be taken just because it is not mentioned in the Constitution. • 10th Amendment: • Powers not given to federal gov’t belong to the states and the people.

  48. Beyond the Bill of Rights • 27 total amendments • 14th-All citizens are guaranteed equal protection under the law & citizenship by birth. • 16th-income tax • 13th and 19th-Right to vote for all • 22nd-limits presidential terms to two