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Politics of the United States
4-1: The Constitutional Basis for Our Civil Liberties
Terms in this set (25)
Civil Liberties vs Civil Rights
- Individual rights protected by the Constitution against the powers of the government.
- legal and constitutional rights that protect citizens from government actions.
- limitations on government action, setting forth what the government cannot do
- Ex. Military-style rifles
- specify what the government must do
- Ex. ensure equal protection under the law for all Americans.
Constitution & Bill of Rights
founders believed that the constitutions of the individual states contained ample provisions to protect citizens from government action
the founders did not include many references to individual civil liberties in the original version of the Constitution
liberties were added by the Bill of Rights
the original Constitution did include some safeguards to protect citizens against an overly powerful government.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
An order that requires an official to bring a specified prisoner into court and explain to the judge why the person is being held in jail.
Article I, Section 9
"produce the body"
will be available to all citizens except in times of rebellion or national invasion
If the court finds that the imprisonment is unlawful, it orders the prisoner to be released.
If our country did not have such a constitutional provision, political leaders could jail their opponents without giving them the opportunity to plead their cases before a judge.
Without this opportunity, many opponents might conveniently be left to rot away in prison.
Bill of Attainder
A legislative act that inflicts punishment on particular persons or groups without granting them the right to a trial.
directly punishes a specifically named individual (or a group or class of individuals) without a trial
Ex. no legislature can pass a law that punishes a named Hollywood celebrity for unpatriotic statements.
Ex Post Facto Law
A criminal law that punishes individuals for committing an act that was legal when the act was committed.
"after the fact."
Bill of Rights
debate over ratification of the Constitution was the lack of protections for citizens from government actions
many state constitutions provided such protections, the Anti-Federalists wanted more.
the addition of a bill of rights to the Constitution ensured its ratification.
ratified by the states and became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791
The first eight amendments grant the people specific rights and liberties.
The remaining two amendments reserve certain rights and powers to the people and to the states.
in a democracy, government policy tends to reflect the view of the majority
Function: protect the rights of those in the minority against the will of the majority
Supreme Court steps in when there is disagreement over how to interpret the Bill of Rights
SC has the final say as to how the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, should be interpreted
civil liberties have all been shaped over time by Supreme Court decisions.
Ex. it is the Supreme Court that determines where freedom of speech ends and the right of society to be protected from certain forms of speech begins.
courts assumed that the Bill of Rights limited only the actions of the national government, not the actions of state or local governments.
if a state or local law was contrary to a basic freedom, such as the freedom of speech or the right to due process of law, the federal Bill of Rights did not come into play.
The founders believed that the states, being closer to the people, would be less likely to violate their own citizens' liberties.
State constitutions, most of which contain bills of rights, protect citizens against state government actions.
The United States Supreme Court upheld this view when it decided, in Barron v. Baltimore (1833), that the Bill of Rights did not apply to state laws.
The Right to Due Process
1868 - 3 years after civil war = 14th amendment added to constitution
Due Process Clause
constitutional guarantee, set out in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, that the government will not illegally or arbitrarily deprive a person of life, liberty, or property.
of this amendment requires that state governments protect their citizens' rights. (A similar requirement, binding on the federal government, was provided by the Fifth Amendment.
No State shall ... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
Due Process of Law
The requirement that the government use fair, reasonable, and standard procedures whenever it takes any legal action against an individual; required by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
the right to be treated fairly under the legal system
That system and its officers must follow "rules of fair play" in making decisions, in determining guilt or innocence, and in punishing those who have been found guilty.
Procedural Due Process
requires that any governmental decision to take life, liberty, or property be made equitably
Fair procedure: requiring that the person have at least an opportunity to object to a proposed action before an impartial, neutral decision maker (who need not be a judge).
Ex. the government must use "fair procedures" in determining whether a person will be subjected to punishment or have some burden imposed on him or her.
Substantive Due Process
focuses on the content, or substance, of legislation.
If a law or other governmental action limits a fundamental right, it will be held to violate substantive due process, unless it promotes a compelling or overriding state interest.
All First Amendment rights plus the rights to interstate travel, privacy, and voting are considered fundamental.
Compelling state interests could include, for example, the public's safety.
states that no state "shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."
the Supreme Court considered the "privileges and immunities" referred to in the amendment to be those conferred by state laws or constitutions, not the federal Bill of Rights.
Due Process Clause
Supreme Court gradually began using the due process clause to say that states could not abridge a civil liberty that the national government could not abridge.
In other words, the Court incorporated the protections guaranteed by the national Bill of Rights into the liberties protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Liberties Still not Incorporated
right to a grand jury hearing.
The right to refuse to quarter soldiers has been affirmed by a U.S. appeals court, but not by the Supreme Court, and so that liberty is fully guaranteed in only a few states.
The right to bear arms described in the Second Amendment was incorporated only in 2010.
Congress may not create an official church or enact laws limiting the freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and petition.
These guarantees, like the others in the Bill or Rights (the first 10 amendments), are not absolute-each right may be exercised only with regard to the rights of other persons
Each state has the right to maintain a volunteer armed force.
Although individuals have the right to bear arms, states and the federal government may regulate the possession and use of firearms by individuals.
Before the Revolutionary War, it had been common British practice to quarter soldiers in colonists' homes.
Military troops do not have the power to take over private houses during peacetime.
Here, the word warrant refers to a document issued by a magistrate or judge indicating the name address, and possible offense committed.
Anyone asking for a warrant, such as a police officer, must be able to convince the magistrate or judge that an offense probably has been committed.
There are two types of juries.
A grand jury considers physical evidence and testimony of witnesses and decides whether there is sufficient reason to bring a case to trial.
A petit jury hears the case at trial and decides it.
"For the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb" means to be tried twice for the same crime.
A person may not be tried twice for the same crime or forced to give evidence against herself/himself.
No person's right to life, liberty, or property may be taken away except by lawful means, called the due process of law.
Private property taken for public purposes must be paid for by the government.
Any person accused of a crime has the right to a fair and public trial by a jury in the state in which the crime took place.
The charges against that person must be made clear.
Any accused person has the right to a lawyer to defend him or her and to question those who testify against him or her, as well as the right to call people to speak in his or her favor at trial.
A jury trial may be requested by either party in a dispute in any case involving more that $20.
If both parties agree to a trial by a judge without a jury, the right to a jury may be put aside.
Bail is that amount of money that a person accused of a crime may be required to deposit with the court as guarantee that she or he will appear at court when requested.
The amount of bail required or the fine imposed as punishment for a crime must be reasonable compared with the seriousness of the crime involved.
Any punishment judged to be too harsh or too severe for a crime shall be prohibited.
Many civil rights that are not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution are still held by the people
Those powers not delegated by the Constitution to the federal government or expressly denied to the states belong to the states and to the people.
This clause in essence allows the states to pass laws under their "police powers"
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United States Government: Our Democracy
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United States Government: Our Democracy
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