Basic Rights and Freedoms • The Texas Bill of Rights protects the individual liberties of Texans. • Its placement in the front of the Texas Constitution emphasizes its importance. • It begins by saying that Texas is an independent state and it recognizes the U.S. Constitution as the only higher authority.
Basic Rights and Freedoms • Section 2 of the Texas Bill of Rights states that all political power stems from the people. • Sections 3 and 3a declare that Texans have equal rights under the law. This protects against laws that discriminate on the basis of gender, race or national origin.
Basic Rights and Freedoms • Sections 4-7 protect Texans’ freedom of worship. • The government cannot support a religion or interfere with anyone’s decision to practice a religion or not. • These sanctions bar the government from having an official religion or favoring any particular one.
Basic Rights and Freedoms • Section 8 protects freedoms of speech and of the press. • These freedoms are crucial to democracy. • These freedoms are not unlimited. • Slander – a false statement made on purpose that damage another’s reputation is not protected. • Libel - an intentionally false written statement is also not protected
Basic Rights and Freedoms • Freedom of speech does not protect statements that seriously threaten the public’s safety (like yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater) • Section 27 ensures that Texans can freely assemble or gather together. • Texans can also petition, or make a request, for particular government action Fire!!!!
Protection of the Accused • The Texas Constitution includes safeguards that require the government to take certain legal actions before it can seize a person’s property or punish a person. This is called due process. • Section 9 prohibits illegal searches and seizures of Texans’ property. Collin County Search Warrant
Protection of the Accused • Defendants in criminal cases have a number of protections: • All defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty. • A person cannot be charged with a serious crime unless a grand jury decides that there is enough evidence. • The defendant has the right to know the charge and to review the evidence. • The defendant is also entitled to question witness that testify for the government.
Protection of the Accused • Convicted persons are guaranteed to not receive cruel and unusual punishment. • If the person is found to be not guilty, he or she cannot be tried again for the same offense. • The government cannot pass a law punishing someone for conduct that was lawful when committed. Texas Death Chamber
Protection of the Accused • Texas courts cannot set unreasonably high bal, a sum of money that the defendant promises to pay the court. • In exchange the defendant is released from jail. • If a person does not show up for trial, he or she can be arrested. • Persons facing serious criminal charges can be denied bail. • (right) Michael Jackson’s bail bond from April, 2005
Other Rights • Texans benefit from other protections as well. • Eminent domain: taking of land for public use. The property owner must be paid for the property. • Texans cannot be jailed for unpaid debts. • Section 22 defines treason and the rights of persons accused of that charge. Eminent Domain
Other Rights • Under Section 23, Texans have the right to keep and bear arms. • Section 24 places the state’s military forces under the control of the state’s civilian authorities. • The state cannot force Texans to provide housing to soldiers in peacetime.
Other Rights • A citizen cannot be outlawed or banished from the state. • Section 28 limits the power to suspend state law to the legislature. • Section 29 provides that the government cannot change the Texas Bill of Rights and laws that contradict it, will have no effect. • Crime victims are given rights in section 30 and 31, including the right to be notified of court proceedings.