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civil liberties

The personal guarantees and freedoms that the federal government cannot abridge by laws, constitution, or judicial interpretation.

civil rights

The government-protected rights of individuals against arbitrary or discriminatory treatment.

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which largely guarantee specific rights and liberties.

Ninth Amendment

Part of the Bill of Rights that reads "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Tenth Amendment

Part of the Bill of Rights that reiterates that powers not delegated to the national government are reserved to the state or to the people.

due process clause

Clause contained int he Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Over the years, it has been construed to guarantee to individuals a variety of rights ranging from economic liberty to criminal procedural rights to protection from arbitrary governmental action.

substantive due process

Judicial interpretation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments' due process clauses that protects citizens from arbitrary or unjust laws.

incorporation doctrine

An interpretation of the Constitution that holds that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that state and local governments also guarantee those rights.

selective incorporation

A judicial doctrine whereby most but not all of the protections found int he Bill of Rights are made applicable to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment

fundamental freedoms

Those rights defined by the Court to be essential to order, liberty, and justice and therefore entitled to the highest standard for review, strict scrutiny.

First Amendment

Part of the Bill of Rights that imposes a number of restriction on the federal government with respect to the civil liberties of the people, including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.

establishment clause

The first clause in the First Amendment; it prohibits the national government from establishing a national religion.

free exercise clause

The second clause of the First Amendment; it prohibits the U.S. government from interfering with a citizen's right to practice his or her religion.

prior restraint

Constitutional doctrine that prevents the government from prohibiting speech or publication before the fact; generally held to be in violation oft he FIrst Amendment.

clear and present danger test

Test articulated by the Supreme Court in Schenck v. U.S (1919) to draw the line between protected and unprotected speech; the Court looks to see "whether the words used" could "create a clear and present danger that they will bring about substantive evils" that Congress seeks "to prevent."

direct incitement test

Test articulated by the Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) that holds that advocacy of illegal action is protected by the First Amendment unless imminent lawless action is intended and likely to occur.

symbolic speech

Symbols, signs, and other methods of expression generally also considered to be protected by the First Amendment.

libel

False written statement or a written statement tending to call someone's reputation into disrepute.

slander

Untrue spoken statements that defame the character of a person.

New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)

The Supreme Court concluded that "actual malice" must be proved to support a finding of libel against a public figure.

fighting words

Words that, "by their utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of peace." Fighting words are not subject to the restrictions of the the First Amendment.

writs of habeas corpus

Court orders in which a judge requires authorities to prove that a prisoner is being held lawfully and that allows the prisoner to be fred if the judge is not persuaded by the government's case. Habeas corpus rights imply that prisoners have a right to know what charges are being made against them.

ex post facto law

From the Latin for "after the fact," a law that applies to actions committed before the law was passed. Prohibited by the Constitution.

bill of attainder

A legislative act that inflicts punishment on individuals without any kind of judicial action. Prohibited by the Consitution.

Fourth Amendment

Part of the Bill of Rights that reads: "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 Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, the persons or things to be seized."

Fifth Amendment

Part of the Bill of Rights that imposes a number of restrictions on the federal government with respect to eh rights of persons suspected of committing a crime. It provides for indictment by a grand jury and protection against self-incrimination, and prevents the national government from denying a person life, liberty, or property without the due process of law. It also prevents the national government from taking property without just compensation.

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

A landmark Supreme Court ruling that held the FIfth Amendment requires that individuals arrested for a crime must be advised of their right to remain silent and to have counsel present.

Miranda rights

Statements that must be made by the police informing a suspect of his or her constitutional rights protected by the Fifth Amendment, including the right to an attorney provided by the court if the suspect cannot afford one.

double jeopardy clause

Part of the Fifth Amendment that protects individuals from being tried twice fort he same offense.

exclusionary rule

Judicially created rule that prohibits police from using illegally seized evidence at trial.

Sixth Amendment

Part of the Bill of Rights that sets out the basic requirements of procedural due process for federal courts to follow in criminal trials. These include speedy and public trials, impartial juries, trials in the state where the crime was committed, notice of the charges, the right to confront and obtain favorable witnesses, and the right to counsel.

Eight Amendment

Part of the Bill of RIghts that states; "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

right to privacy

The right to be left alone; a judicially created principle encompassing a variety of individual actions protected by the penumbras or shadows cast by several constitutional amendments, including the FIrst, Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

The Supreme Court found that a woman's right to an abortion was protected by the right to privacy that could be implied form specific guarantees found int he Bill of Rights applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

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