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Vocabulary for Chapter 4

Civil Liberties

The protections of citizens from improper governmental actions.

Civil Rights

The legal or moral claims that citizens are entitled to make on the government.

Miranda Rule

The convention derived from the Supreme Court's 1966 ruling in the case of Miranda v. Arizona where by persons under arrest must be informed of their legal rights, including their right to counsel, before undergoing police interrogation.

Establishment Clause

Clause in the First Amendment that says the government may not establish an official religion. Also separates church and state.

Lemon Test

Arose from the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in which any funds given to religious school cannot be used for religious purposes.

Free Exercise Clause

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

Strict Scrutiny

Used by the Supreme Court in racial discrimination cases and other cases involving civil liberties and civil rights, which places the burden of proof on the government rather than on the challengers to show that the law in question is constitutional

Clear and Present Danger

Phrase used in the Supreme Court decision, Schenck v. United States (1919). It refers to the idea that the government has the right to punish individuals who engage in speech or actions which can be shown to present a serious and immediate danger to the nation or the interests of the government. Schenck had been convicted for having distributed leaflets urging people not to register for the draft during World War I. Although such "speech" would have been within his rights in peacetime, the Supreme Court ruled that the fact that he engaged in that activity in a time of war made his actions pose a "clear and present danger" to the nation.

Speech Plus

In Johnson v. Texas (1989), the Supreme Court ruled that burning the flag in a manner that does not pose a threat to people or property is allowed as this type of freedom of speech.

Prior Restraint

Censorship imposed on a speech before it published in a newspaper; usually unconstitutional


Written statement that is made in disregard of the truth that causes damages to a victim because it is malicious, scandalous, and defamatory.


Spoken statement that is made in disregard of the truth that causes damages to a victim because it is malicious, scandalous, and defamatory.

Fighting words

Speech that directly incites damaging conduct.

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.

Grand Jury

A jury that see the evidence in a case to see if there is enough to conduct a trial. They do not decide innocence or guilt.

Double Jeopardy

5th amendment right banning the trying of someone for the same crime twice.

Eminent domain

The right of government to take private property for public use

Right to Privacy

The right to a private personal life free from the intrusion of government.

Equal Protection Clause

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

"Separate but Equal" rule

The doctrine that public accommodations could be segregated by race but still equal; Court Case of Plessy vs Ferguson

de jure segregation

Segregation imposed by law.

de facto segregation

Segregation resulting from economic or social conditions or personal choice.

Intermediate Scrutiny

A legal test falling between ordinary and strict scrutiny relevant to issues of gender; under this test, the Supreme Court will allow gender classifications in laws if they are substantially related to an important government objective

Affirmative Action

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

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