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Civil liberties

constitutional freedoms (speech, assembly, religion). guaranteed to all citizens.

Civil rights

positive acts of government designed to prevent discrimination and provide equality before the law

Clear and present danger doctrine

judicial interpretation of Amendment 1 that govt. may not ban speech unless such speech poses an imminent threat to society

De facto segregation

segregation "by fact"

De jure segregation

segregation by law

Double jeopardy

being prosecuted twice for the same offense. Banned by Amendment 5

Due process clause

prohibits the national government (5th Amendment) and states (14th Amendment) from denying life, liberty, or property without due process of law

Equal protection clause

14th amendment clause that prohibits states from denying equal protection under the law, and has been used to combat discrimination

Eminent domain

the right of government to take private property for the public good. Fair compensation must be paid to the owner of such property.

Establishment clause

Provision of Amendment 1 that prohibits Congress from est. an official state religion. Basis for separation of church and state.

Exclusionary rule

Supreme Court guideline that excludes the use of illegally obtained evidence in a criminal trial

Free exercise clause

Provision of Amendment 1 stating that Congress may prohibit the free exercise of religion

Grandfather clause

Southern laws that excluded blacks from exercising suffrage by restricting the right to vote only to those whose grandfathers had voted before 1865.

Grand jury

determines whether or not to bring criminal charges against a suspect


applying the Bill of Rights to the states.

Total Incorporation

states must obey all provisions of the Bill of Rights because of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment

Selective Incorporation

Bill of Rights is to be applied to the states in a more gradual manner on a case by case basis, also via the due process clause of the 14th Amendment


Grand jury order that a suspect must stand trial for a criminal offense

Jim Crow Laws

Southern laws that required racial segregation in places of public accommodation


Written untruths that damage a reputation

Literacy test

Southern method of excluding blacks from exercising suffrage by requiring that voters prove their ability to read and write

Miranda Warnings

Warnings that must be read to suspects prior to questioning. Suspects must be advised that they have the rights of silence and counsel

Plea bargain

Arrangement in which a suspect pleads guilty to a lesser offense in order to avoid a trial. The manner in which most cases are disposed of.

Police powers

Powers that allow states to pass laws protecting the health, welfare, safety, and morals of their residents

Poll tax

Southern method of excluding blacks from exercising suffrage by requiring payment of a tax prior to voting

Prior restraint

When a court stops expression before it is made. Presumed to be unconstitutional.

Racial gerrymandering

Drawing of legislative boundaries to give electoral advantages to a particular racial group. "Majority-minority" districts include large numbers of racial minorities in order to ensure minority representation in legislatures.


Advocacy of the overthrow of the govt.

Separate but equal

Supreme Court doctrine est. in the case of Plessy v Ferguson. Allowed state-required racial segregation in places of public accommodation as long as the facilities were equal

Shield Laws

State laws that protect journalists from having to reveal their sources


Spoken untruths that damage a reputation

Strict scrutiny

Supreme Court guidelines for determining if a govt. can make racial distinctions. Such distinctions are highly suspect and are allowed only if they are narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.

White Primary

Primary election in which Southern states allowed only whites to vote

Writ of habeas corpus

a court order requiring that the govt. show cause for detaining someone and charge him/her with a crime

Ex post facto law

a law that declares something illegal after it has been done

Bill of Attainder

a bill passed by the legislature that declares a person guilty of a crime

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