Johnson's AP Government- Unit 1 Vocabulary Words (Chp. 4)

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Chapter 4: Civil Liberties and Public Policy

Civil liberties

The legal constitutional protections against government. Although our's are formally set down in the Bill of Rights, the courts, police, and legislatures define their meaning.

Due process clause

Part of the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing that persons cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property by the United States or state governments without due process of law

Incorporation doctrine

The 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

Establishment clause

Part of the first amendment stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Free exercise clause

A First Amendment provision that prohibits government from interfering with the practice of religion

Prior restraint

A government's preventing material from being published. This is a common method of limiting the press in some nations, but it is usually unconstitutional in the United States, according to the First Amendment and as confirmed in the 1931 Supreme Court case of Near v. Minnesota.

Libel

The publication of false or malicious statements that damage someone's reputation

Symbolic speech

Nonverbal communication, such as burning a flag or wearing an armband. The Supreme Court has accorded some symbolic speech protection under the First Amendment.

Commercial speech

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.

Probable cause

The situation occurring when the police have reason to believe that a person should be arrested. In making the arrest, police are allowed legally to search for and seize incriminating evidence.

Unreasonable searches and seizures

Obtaining evidence in a haphazard or random manner, a practice prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. Both probable cause and a search warrant are required for a legal and proper search for and seizure of incriminating evidence.

Exclusionary rule

The rule that evidence, no matter how incriminating, cannot be introduced into a trial if it was not constitutionally obtained. The rule prohibits use of evidence obtained through unreasonable search and seizure.

Self-incrimination

The situation occurring when an individual accused of a crime is compelled to be a witness against himself or herself in court. The Fifth Amendment forbids this.

Plea bargaining

A bargain struck between the defendant's lawyer and the prosecutor to the effect that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser crime (or fewer crimes) in exchange for the state's promise not to prosecute the defendant for a more serious (or additional) crime

Cruel and unusual punishment

Court sentences prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory death sentences for certain offenses are unconstitutional, it has not held that the death penalty itself constitutes this.

Right to privacy

The right to keep the details of one's life confidential. Protected in the Bill of Rights.

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