Guarantees of individual safety of persons, opinions, and property from the arbitrary acts of government, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Rights belonging to a person or groups of people by reason of citizenship including especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th amendments and subsequent acts of Congress including the right to legal and social and economic equality
Constitutional amendment that establishes the four great liberties: freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, and of assembly.
Constitutional amendment adopted after the Civil War that states, "no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
First Amendment guarantee that the government will not create or support an official state church.
Free exercise clause
First Amendment guarantee that citizens may freely engage in the religious activities of their choice.
Censorship of printed material before it is published. Unconstitutional in the United States, according to the First Amendment and as confirmed in the 1931 Supreme Court case of Near v. Minnesota.
A tort (civil act of wrongdoing) consisting of false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person.
Nonverbal communication, such as burning a flag or wearing an armband. The Supreme Court has accorded some symbolic speech protection under the First Amendment; e.g. wearing armbands in school as a form of protest (Tinker v. DesMoines - 1969); flag burning (Texas v. Johnson - 1989).
Legal concept under which the Supreme Court has nationalized the Bill of Rights by making most of its provisions applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
Substantive due process
Constitutional requirement that governments act reasonably and that the substance of the laws themselves be fair and reasonable; limits what a government may do.
Procedural due process
Constitutional requirement that governments proceed by proper methods; limits how government may exercise power.
Communication in the form of advertising. It can be restricted more than many other types of speech but has been receiving increased protection from the Supreme Court.
Evidence sufficient to justify an arrest, issuance of a search warrant, or a seizure.
Unreasonable search and seizure
Obtaining evidence in a haphazard or random manner, without justification; prohibited by the 4th amendment.
Document approved by a judicial authority authorizing law enforcement officials to search for objects or people involved in the commission of a crime and to produce them in court.
Due process rule that evidence, no matter how incriminating, cannot be introduced into a trial if it was not constitutionally (legally) obtained. The rule prohibits use of evidence obtained through unreasonable search and seizure; established by the Supreme Court in the Mapp v. Ohio decision (Warren Court)
Constitutional amendment designed to protect the rights of persons accused of crimes, including protection against double jeopardy, self-incrimination, and punishment without the due process of law.
When an individual accused of a crime is compelled to be a witness against himself or herself in court. The Fifth Amendment forbids self-incrimination.
Constitutional amendment designed to protect individuals accused of crimes. It includes the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to a speedy and public trial.
Negotiation in which the defendant agrees to enter a plea of guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutor agrees to drop a more serious charge; most cases in American criminal courts are settled via such a negotiation.
Constitutional protection from imposition of excessive bail or excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments.
Cruel and unusual punishment
Court sentences prohibited by the eighth amendment. In Furman v. Georgia (1972) the death penalty in some cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment due to the arbitrary way in which death sentences were imposed, often indicating a racial bias against black defendants.
Right to privacy
Right to a private personal life free from the intrusion of government; recognized as a constitutional right by the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) which invalidated a Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraceptives as a "violation of marital privacy".
Roe v. Wade
1973 Supreme Court decision that stuck down 46 state laws restricting a woman's access to abortion; established national abortion trimester guidelines; Griswold v. Connecticut decision cited as precedent. (Burger Court)
Gregg v. Georgia
Overturned Furman v. Georgia (1972) which stated that capital punishment was unconstitutional as it was being applied; Gregg decision established death penalty guidelines; (1) sentencing must meet objective criteria and must go through appellate review to ensure the criteria has been met; (2) must allow judge or jury to take the character and record of defendant into account (mitigating circumstances)
Clear and present danger rule
States that words can be outlawed, and those who utter them can be punished when the words they use trigger an immediate danger, states that words can be outlawed, and those who utter them can be punished when the words they use trigger an immediate danger that criminal acts will follow (Schenck v. United States)
Miller v. California
A 1973 Supreme Court decision that avoided defining obscenity by holding that community standards be used to determine whether material is obscene in terms of appealing to a "prurient interest" and being "patently offensive" and lacking in value.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey
1992 case in which the Supreme Court loosened its standard for evaluating restrictions on abortion from one of "strict scrutiny" of any restraints on a "fundamental right" to one of "undue burden" on the mother that permits considerably more regulation; i.e. parental consent for procedures performed on girls under the age of 18
Engel v. Vitale
1962 Supreme Court decision holding that state officials violated the First Amendment when they wrote a prayer to be recited by New York's schoolchildren; violation of the Establishment Clause
Lemon v. Kurtzman
1971 Supreme Court decision that established that aid to church-related schools must (1) have a secular legislative purpose; (2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) not foster excessive government entanglement with religion ("Lemon test")
Fruit of the poisoned tree
An extension of the exclusionary rule; evidence acquired via an illegal search is inadmissible in court; e.g. a key to a train station locker is obtained through an illegal search of a home, and evidence of a crime is found in the locker; the key is tainted evidence and thus the evidence in the locker is tainted.
Abington v. Schempp
1963 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled that students cannot be required to read the bible at school for religious purposes; violation of the Establishment Clause.
New York Times v. Sullivan
1964; established guidelines for determining whether public officials and public figures could win damage suits for libel. The Court's decision set a higher standard for libel related to public figures. Individuals must prove that defamatory statements were made w/ "actual malice" and reckless disregard for the truth.
Miranda v. Arizona
1966 landmark Supreme Court ruling which held that criminal suspects must be informed of their right to consult with an attorney and of their right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police. (Warren Court)
Gideon v. Wainwright
1963 landmark Supreme Court ruling which held that under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution the state is required to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford their own attorneys. (Warren Court)
Equal protection clause
14th amendment clause that prohibits states from denying equal protection under the law; has been the basis of anti-discrimination lawsuits.
Due process clause
14th amendment clause stating that no state may deprive a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Congressional legislation that made racial, religious, and sex discrimination by employers illegal and gave the government the power to enforce all laws governing civil rights, including desegregation of schools and public places.
One of the means used to discourage African-American voting that permitted political parties in the heavily Democratic South to exclude African Americans from primary elections, thus depriving them of a voice in the real contests. The Supreme Court declared White primaries unconstitutional in 1944.
Small taxes levied on the right to vote that often fell due at a time of year when poor African-American sharecroppers had the least cash on hand. Used by most Southern states to exclude African Americans from voting. Prohibited by the Twenty-fourth Amendment in 1964.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
1965; invalidated the use of any test or device to deny the vote and authorized federal examiners to register voters in states that had disenfranchised blacks.
Policies designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities.
Brown v. Board of Education
1954 class-action lawsuit brought by the NAACP challenging segregation in public schools. The Court overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, declared that racially segregated facilities are inherently unequal, and ordered all public schools desegregated "with all deliberate speed".
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
1978 challenge to affirmative action policies applied to college admittance. The Supreme Court's decision held that a state university could not admit less qualified individuals solely because of their race.
Reed v. Reed
Landmark case in 1971 in which the Supreme Court for the first time upheld a claim of gender discrimination; The Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protected women's rights.