Like this study set? Create a free account to save it.

Sign up for an account

Already have a Quizlet account? .

Create an account

Civil Liberties

Provided by constitution against the abuse of govt. power, The legal constitutional protections against government. Although our civil liberties are formally set down in the Bill of Rights, the courts, police, and legislatures define their meaning.


The term associated with Senator Joseph McCarthy who led the search for communists in America during the early 1950s through his leadership in the House un-American Activities Committee.

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

Fourteenth Amendment

the 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."

Equal protection clause

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

Due process clause

14th amendment clause stating that no state may deprive a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law

Selective Incorporation

The process by which provisions of the Bill of Rights are brought within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment and so applied to state and local governments

Preferred freedoms

certain protection in the bill of rights such as free speech and free press that are considered even more important than other freedoms

Establishment Clause

the First Amendment guarantee that the government will not create and support an official state church

Free Exercise Clause

the First Amendment guarantee that citizens may freely engage in the religious activities of their choice

Wall of Separation Principle

An interpretation of the establishment clause embraced by the Supreme Court that allows no government involvement with religion, even on a non preferential basis.

Lemon Test

The three-part test for Establishment Clause cases that a law must pass before it is declared constitutional: it must have a secular purpose; it must neither advance nor inhibit religion; and it must not cause excessive entanglement with religion.

Equal Access Act

passed in 1984, allows public high schools receiving federal funds to permit student religious groups to hold meeting in the school

School Vouchers

movement dating to the 1950s to allow taxpayer dollars to be given to families to use at whatever public, private, or parochial schools they choose.

Freedom of Expression

right of people to speak, publish, and assemble

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Supreme court justice 1902-1930. He viewed the law as a social instrument, rather than a set of abstract principles. Famous decision on preserving freedom of speech except when clear and present danger. (Schenk vs. US)

"Clear and Present Danger"

A test established by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in 1919 to define the point at which speech loses the protection of the First Amendment.

"time, place, and manner" restrictions

rules, when justified by a substantial government interest, that can regulate the time, place and manner of speaking or publishing and the distribution of printed material

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.

"Hate Crime"

a criminal offense committed because of the offender's bias against a race, religion, ethnic group, national origin, or sexual orientation

Prior Restraint

A government 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.


a tort consisting of false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person

"actual malice"

Either knowledge of a defamatory statement's falsity or a reckless disregard for the truth.


Quality or state of a work that taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest in sex by depicting sexual conduct in a patently offensive way and that lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

"Community standards"

The Supreme Court's 1973 ruling that a work is obscene if it is "utterly without redeeming social importance" and, "to the average person, applying contemporary 'community standards,' the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests."

"Prurient interests"

That which incites lascivious or lustful interest in sex. If it is a morbid or shameful (as opposed to a healthy) interest in sex, then it is not within the prurient interests. - Community standard
*All three parts of the obscenity test must be met

Preferred position

An interpretation of the First Amendment that holds that freedom of expression is so essential to democracy that governments should not punish persons for what they say, only for what they do.

Imminent danger

a situation that poses the strong possibility of risk to people nearby

Least-restrictive means

If one right must be restricted to protect another right, the restriction must be as minimal as possible.

John Peter Zenger

Journalist who questioned the policies of the governor of New York in the 1700's. He was jailed; he sued, and this court case was the basis for our freedom of speech and press. He was found not guilty.

Pentagon Papers

secret government documents published In 1971; revealed that the u.s. government had misled Americans about the Vietnam war.


words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another

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.

Right to assemble

The right or legal claim provided for in the First Amendment that allows people to meet to discuss and express their beliefs, ideas, or feelings, especially in a political context.

Right to associate

The freedom to meet with others for political or any other lawful purposes

Search warrant

a warrant authorizing law enforcement officials to search for objects or people involved in the commission of a crime and to produce them in court


a formal document written for a prosecuting attorney charging a person with some offense

Grand Jury

a jury to inquire in accusations of crime and to evaluate the grounds for indictments

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.

Probable cause

(law) evidence sufficient to warrant an arrest or search and seizure

Exclusionary rule

a rule that provides that otherwise admissible evidence cannot be used in a criminal trial if it was the result of illegal police conduct

"fruit of the poison tree"

A legal principle that excludes from introduction at trial any evidence later developed as a result of an illegal search or seizure

"good faith" exception

This rule established by US v. Leon (1984) angered civil liberties groups by allowing exception to the Exclusionary Rule in instances where probably cause may not fully exist.

Miranda rights

A list of rights that police in the United States must read to suspects in custody before questioning them, pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona.


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 self-incrimination.

Patriot Act

A controversial law overwhelmingly passed by Congress in October 2001, after the terrorist attacks of September 11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It greatly expanded the power of federal law enforcement authorities to move against suspected terrorists.

Civil Rights

right or rights belonging to a person 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

Suspect classifications

classifications of people on the basis of their race or ethnicity

Strict Scrutiny

a Supreme Court test to see if a law denies equal protection because it does not serve a compelling state interest and is not narrowly tailored to achieve that goal

rationality standard

used by the courts if determination based on gender was valid.

Jim Crow laws

The "separate but equal" segregation laws state and local laws enacted in the Southern and border states of the United States and enforced between 1876 and 1965

"equal protections of the laws"

the right of all persons to have the same access to the law and courts, and to be treated equally by the law and courts, both in procedures and in the substance of the law. It is akin to the right to due process of law, but in particular applies to equal treatment as an element of fundamental fairness.

"separate but equal"

Principle upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public facilities was legal.

"with all deliberate speed"

Supreme Court decision of Brown case, states should end segregation with all deliberate speed


the action of incorporating a racial or religious group into a community


the action of incorporating a racial or religious group into a community

de jure segregation

segregation that is imposed by law

de facto segregation

segregation (especially in schools) that happens in fact although not required by law

Civil disobedience

a group's refusal to obey a law because they believe the law is immoral (as in protest against discrimination)

Civil Rights Act of 1957

The Civil Rights Act of 1957, primarily a voting rights bill, was the first civil rights legislation enacted in the United States since Reconstruction. It was proposed by Congress to President Dwight Eisenhower.

Equal Pay Act of 1963

An amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, this act requires equal pay for men and women doing equal work.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

the law that made racial discrimination against any group in hotels, motels, and restaurants illegal and forbade many forms of job discrimination

Voting Rights Act of 1965

federal law that increased government supervision of local election practices, suspended the use of literacy tests to prevent people (usually African Americans) from voting, and expanded government efforts to register voters.

Open Housing Act of 1968

Prevents people selling or renting homes from using certain forms of discrimination

Higher Education Act of 1972

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in educational program using federal funding

Voting Rights Act of 1982

requires states to create congressional districts with minority majorities in order to increase minority representation in the House of Representatives

Civil Rights Act of 1988

increased potency of Title IX by allowing the government to cut off all funding to schools that violate the law; Restored the Civil Rights Act of 1964; recipients of federal funds must comply with civil rights law in all areas

American with Disabilities Act of 1990

a law passed in 1990 that requires employers and public facilities to make "reasonable accommodations" for people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination against these individuals in employment

Sexual harassment

unwelcome sexual behavior by a supervisor toward an employee

Equal Employment Opportunities Commission

EEOC: Enforces laws to prevent unfair treatment on the job due to sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, or age.

Equal Rights Amendment

Supported by the National Organization for Women, this amendment would prevent all gender-based discrimination practices. However, it never passed the ratification process.

Right to privacy

right to be free of unsanctioned intrusion

Affirmative Action

a policy designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities

Reverse discrimination

The assertion that affirmative action programs that require preferential treatment for minorities discriminate against those who have no minority status.

Quotas and preferences

established limits by governments on the number of immigrants who can enter a country each year

Compensatory action

Helping disadvantaged people catch up, usually by giving them extra education, training, or services.

"compelling government interest"

The demonstration of necessity that the government must provide to justify interference with fundamental rights- the central element of a strict scrutiny standard for examining the existence of rights violations

"narrowly tailored"

-Constitution requires specificity in regulations (terms defined etc.). Must be narrow in scope and not impact expression unnecessarily

"comparable worth"

the issue raised when women who hold traditionally female jobs are paid less than men for working at jobs requiring comparable skill

Barron v. Baltimore (1833)

The guarantee in the 5th Amendment that private property shall not be taken "for public use, without just compensation" is not applicable to state governments as well as the federal government.

Gitlow v. New York (1925)

established selective incorporation of the Bill of rights; states cannot deny freedom of speech; protected through the 14th amendment

Near v. Minnesota (1931)

Supreme Court decision holding that the First Amendment protects newspapers from prior restraint

Palko v. Connecticut (1937)

Provided test for determining which parts of Bill of Rights should be federalized - those which are implicitly or explicitly necessary for liberty to exist.

Everson v. Board of Education (1942)

This decision ruled a state law that paid for the busing of children in private schools constitutional. It applied the Establishment Clause to the states through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)

Created a 3-part "Test." Laws which aid religion must 1) have a "secular purpose", 2) neither advance nor inhibit religion, 3) avoid "excessive government entanglement with religion."

Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)

The Court overturned a state law setting aside time for "voluntary prayer" in public schools. It concerned an Alabama law that authorized a one-minute period of silence in all public schools for meditation or voluntary prayer and whether it encouraged a religious activity in violation of the establishment clause.

Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990)

Schools cannot deny groups from meeting based on content of their speech.

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000)

Student-led, student-initiated prayer at high school football games violated the establishment clause.

Van Orden v. Perry (2005)

A Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of a state capitol building does not violate the First Amendment's establishment clause because "simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the establishment clause."

Reynolds v. United States (1879)

The Court upheld the federal law that prohibited polygamy even though X, a Mormon from Utah, claimed that the law limited his religious freedom.

Sherbert v. Verner (1963)

dealt with the Sherbert Test (when a law violates the free exercise clause) it took formal form in this case, it focused on whether workers could apply for unemployment benefits if they gave up work because it fell on a holy day

Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (1990)

States can fire employees for the use of Peyote. States are not required to accommodate illegal religious practices, although they may do so if they choose

Church of the Lukuani Babalu Ave., v. City of Hialeah (1993)

City cannot specifically target certain activity or certain religious behavior

Schenck v. United States (1919)

declared that government can limit speech if the speech provokes a "clear and present danger" of substantive evils.

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan

the supreme court concluded that "actual malice" must be proved to support a finding of libel against a public figure

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

The court ruled that high school students had the right to wear black armbands protesting the Vietnam War on school grounds (1969): School Speech

New York Times Co. v. U.S.

Supreme Court case protecting the freedom of the press by allowing the New York Times to publish the "Pentagon Papers" despite the Justice Department's order to restrict it

Miller v. California (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

Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986)

A case about free speech at public schools. It placed a limit on the scope of expression and prohibited certain styles of expression that are sexually vulgar.

Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988)

The Court ruled in favor of school district censorship of student newspapers as long as censorship is related to legitimate concerns.

Texas v. Johnson (1989)

Flag-burning is symbolic speech with a political purpose and is protected by 1st Amendment.

Morse v. Frederick (2007)

Upholds the authority of public school administrators to suspend students for promoting illegal drugs at a school event ("Bong Hits for Jesus").

NAACP v. Alabama (1958)

The Supreme Court protected the right to assemble peaceably in this case when it decided the NAACP did not have to reveal its membership list and thus subject its members to harassment.

District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)

held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes , such as self-defense within the home.

Mapp v. Ohio (1961)

Established the exclusionary rule was applicable to the states (evidence seized illegally cannot be used in court)

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that a defendant in a felony trial must be provided a lawyer free of charge if the defendant cannot afford one.

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Supreme Court 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.

Furman v. Georgia (1972)

State death penalties (as then applied) are arbitrary and violate equal protection of 14th Amendment.

Gregg v. Georgia (1976)

made capital punishment constitutional; overturned a previous decision which stated that capital punishment was unconstitutional

New Jersey v. T.L.O (1985)

Supreme court case in which it was decided that a student may be searched if there is "reasonable ground" for doing so.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Separate but equal facilities based upon race is constitutional

Korematsu v. United States (1944)

Supreme Court decision that upheld as constitutional the internment of more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent in encampments during World War II

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)

Segregated schools were inherently unequal and did not uphold the 13th or 14th Amendments, because they deprived children of equal protection under the laws

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)

Banned the use of race-based quotas for college admissions but allowed race to be considered as a fairly weighed element in the selection process.

Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

Overturned Bowers v. Hardwick and declared a state law banning sodomy to be an unconstitutional intrusion on the right to privacy.

Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)

Race can be used as a factor for admission into a public law school as long as the policy is "narrowly tailored"

Roe v. Wade (1973)

The court legalized abortion by ruling that state laws could not restrict it during the first three months of pregnancy. Based on 4th Amendment rights of a person to be secure in their persons.

Reed v. Reed (1971)

Gender discrimination violates the equal protection clause of the constitution

Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)

Struck down use of "bonus points" for race in undergrad admissions at University of Michigan.

Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989)

States can place restrictions on abortions (viability tests, no use of public facilities for abortions, no counseling to have abortions)

Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

states can regulate abortion but not with regulations that impose an "undue burden" on women.

Gonzales v. Carhart (2007)

Upheld Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions and try again


Reload the page to try again!


Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

Voice Recording