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Chapter 4. Civil Liberties. Civil Liberties/Civil Rights. Civil liberties Restraining government’s action against individuals Limits on government power outlined in the Bill of Rights , the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, 384-385 What government can’t do… Civil rights

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Chapter 4

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chapter 4

Chapter 4

Civil Liberties

civil liberties civil rights
Civil Liberties/Civil Rights
  • Civil liberties
    • Restraining government’s action against individuals
    • Limits on government power outlined in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, 384-385
    • What government can’t do…
  • Civil rights
    • Rights individuals share as provided for in the 14th amendment, which guarantees due process and equal protection under the law, 386
    • What government must do…(e.g., protect individuals from discrimination; unequal treatment, etc.)
liberties rights and the courts
Liberties/Rights and the Courts
  • Judicial interpretations shape nature of civil liberties and civil rights
    • Change over time depending on interpretations
    • Not “set in stone”
  • Hence, importance of judicial appointments and numerous references to court cases
incorporation theory
Incorporation Theory
  • Bill of Rights
    • Initially aimed at protecting citizens against encroachments by the national government
    • Grew out of fear of tyranny
    • Part of constitutional compromise aimed at limiting federal government’s power
  • Incorporation theory
    • View that protections of Bill of Rights apply to state governments through 14th Amendment’s (ratified in 1868) due process clause; see page 68
discussion question
Discussion Question
  • Why is the Fourteenth Amendment so important to civil liberties?
freedom of religion
Freedom of Religion
  • Separation of Church and State
  • First amendment, 384; two parts
    • Establishment clause; Jefferson’s “wall of separation”
      • State churches were the rule (9 colonies had official churches)
      • See text, 68-69 for the meaning of the establishment clause
    • Free exercise Clause
      • no type of religious practice can be prohibited and restricted by the government unless there is a compelling reason
freedom of religion8
Freedom of Religion
  • Contemporary conflicts
    • State aid to church-related schools
    • School voucher programs
    • Officially organized prayer in schools
    • Posting the Ten Commandments (“Hanging Ten”)
    • Pledge of Allegiance (“…under God…”)
    • Teaching evolution
    • Religious speech
    • Free exercise
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • Is it possible for the state to be truly neutral when it comes to religion?
  • Should the state give funding to church schools?
  • Should prayer be allowed in public schools?
  • Should public institutions be allowed to “Hang Ten”?
  • Is the pledge of allegiance a violation of church and state?
  • Should creationism be given equal time with evolution?
  • Should any and all religious practice be OK?
freedom of speech expression
Freedom of Speech/Expression
  • No prior restraint
    • Courts generally disfavor restraining, censoring an action/speech/expression before it has occurred
  • Protected speech
    • Symbolic speech (e.g., burning a U.S. flag)
    • Commercial speech (e.g., advertising)
  • Permitted restrictions
    • Speech that presents a “clear and present danger”to public order
    • Speech that might lead to some “evil” (the bad- tendency rule)
freedom of speech expression11
Freedom of Speech/Expression
  • Unprotected speech
    • Obscenity (based on community standards of indecency)
      • Child pornography
      • Obscenity and child pornography on the Internet
    • Slander
      • Public uttering of false statement that harms the good reputation of another; false, defamatory statements
    • Campus speech codes
      • Hate speech = abusive speech attacking persons on the basis of their ethnicity, race, or other criteria
        • Often considered unconstitutional restriction on free speech
freedom of the press
Freedom of the Press
  • Special instance of free speech
  • Press has some protection from libel charges
    • Libel (defamation in writing) must be accompanied by actual malice (knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth)
  • Press is now protected from gag orders during trials, except in unusual circumstances
  • Films subject to local obscenity laws; regulated through rating system
  • Radio and TV have much more limited 1st amendment protections
    • Regulated by FCC
right to assemble and petition the government
Right to Assemble and Petition the Government
  • Ability to communicate ideas on public issues
  • Can be limited by municipalities’ right to offer permits for marches, parades, sound trucks, demonstrations (to control traffic or prevent riots)
  • Can be denied when groups are likely to engage in fighting words
  • Tested by anti-loitering ordinances aimed at reducing congregation of gangs
privacy rights and abortion
Privacy Rights and Abortion
  • No explicit right to privacy in Constitution
    • unlike California State Constitution
  • Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
    • Supreme Court rules that privacy rights exist
      • comes from the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 9th Amendments
      • “right to be left alone”; “zone of privacy”
  • Unique challenges posed by information age
  • Roe v. Wade (1973) court rules that privacy rights include abortion rights
    • More recently Court taken a more restrictive view of rights outlined in Roe
other privacy rights
Other Privacy Rights
  • Right to die
  • “living wills”
  • Physician-assisted suicide (only legal in Oregon)
  • Security issues after 9/11/01
    • How much are we willing to sacrifice privacy rights for security?
    • Erosion of 4th amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures given roving wiretaps of suspected persons
rights of accused vs rights of society
Rights of Accused vs. Rights of Society
  • The Great Balancing Act
  • Why give criminal suspects rights?
    • Avoid convicting innocent people
    • All suspects have right to due process and fair treatment
  • Found primarily in 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments
rights of the accused
Rights of the Accused
  • Limits on Conduct of Police Officers and Prosecutors
    • No unreasonable or unwarranted searches or seizures (4th)
      • exclusionary rule = cannot use illegally seized evidence without warrant based on probable, just cause (mitigated by “good faith” clause)
    • Probable cause for arrest (4th)
    • No coerced confessions or illegal interrogation (5th)
    • No entrapment
    • Informed of rights, including silence
      • Miranda warnings = “You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you.”
rights of the accused18
Rights of the Accused
  • Defendant’s Pre-trial rights
    • Writ of habeus corpus(Article 1, Section 9, clause 2, 377)
      • requires jailers to bring a person before a court or judge and explain why the person is being held
    • Prompt arraignment (6th)
    • Legal counsel (6th)
    • Reasonable bail (8th)
    • Informed of charges (6th)
    • Remain silent (5th)
rights of the accused19
Rights of the Accused
  • Trial rights
    • Speedy, public trial before a jury (6th)
    • Impartial jury representative of community (6th)
    • Trial atmosphere free of prejudice, fear, and outside interference
    • No compulsory self-incrimination (5th)
    • Adequate counsel (6th)
    • No cruel or unusual punishment (8th)
      • What about the Death Penalty?
    • Right to appeal convictions (5th)
    • No double jeopardy (5th)
states that don t allow death penalty



Rhode Island

W. Virginia





North Dakota



States that Don’t Allow Death Penalty
discussion questions22
Discussion Questions
  • Have the courts done too much to protect the rights of the accused?
  • Are protections necessary to ensure that no innocent person is convicted of a crime?
  • Do criminal suspects deserve fair treatment?
  • Is capital punishment cruel and unusual?
hot links to selected internet resources
Hot Links to Selected Internet Resources:
  • Book’s Companion Site:
  • Wadsworth’s Political Science Site:
  • American Civil Liberties Union:
  • Project Vote Smart:
  • EPIC Archive – Privacy: