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American Civil Liberties
Transcript of American Civil Liberties
What are the roots for American Civil Liberties?
In an attempt not rehash the entire Constitutional Convention debates, the roots of American Civil Liberties at the Constitutional Convention are grounded in the following:
The Anti-federalist push for the addition/necessity of the Bill of Rights, which includes individual rights
The Ninth and Tenth Amendments were big "wins" for the Anti-federalists
After the addition of the Bill of Rights, the roots of civil liberties include the following:
What individual freedoms are found in the U.S. Constitution?
Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942)
1st Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion
prohibiting the free exercise thereof
; or abridging the
freedom of speech
, or of
; or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government
for a redress of grievances."
What is protected and unprotected by the constitution?
The Supreme Court never ruled on the constitutionality regarding free speech clause until the 20th century
Schenck v. United States (1919)
Unspoken Speech/Symbolic Speech
Stromberg v. California (1931)
Court ruled 6-3 that a 1919 California statute banning red flags was unconstitutional because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment. This decision is considered a landmark in the history of First Amendment constitutional law, as it was the first case where the Court extended the Fourteenth Amendment to include a protection of the substance of the First Amendment, in this case symbolic speech, from state infringement.
The Supreme Court upheld flying of red flag (symbol of opposition to U.S. government)
Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)
Texas v. Johnson
"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country."
Almighty Buddha, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country."
Engel v. Vitale (1962) http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1961/1961_468/
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
NEW YORK TIMES v. SULLIVAN http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_39
NEW YORK TIMES v. UNITED STATES
R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_90_7675
4th Amendment-"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, and the persons or things to be seized."
MAPP v. OHIO
Dollree Mapp was convicted of possessing obscene materials after an admittedly illegal police search of her home for a fugitive. She appealed her conviction on the basis of freedom of expression.
Were the confiscated materials protected by the First Amendment? (May evidence obtained through a search in violation of the Fourth Amendment be admitted in a state criminal proceeding?)
The Court brushed aside the First Amendment issue and declared that "all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by [the Fourth Amendment], inadmissible in a state court." Mapp had been convicted on the basis of illegally obtained evidence. This was an historic -- and controversial -- decision. It placed the requirement of excluding illegally obtained evidence from court at all levels of the government. The decision launched the Court on a troubled course of determining how and when to apply the exclusionary rule.
Weeks v. United States
Police entered the home of Fremont Weeks and seized papers which were used to convict him of transporting lottery tickets through the mail. This was done without a search warrant. Weeks took action against the police and petitioned for the return of his private possessions.
Did the search and seizure of Weeks' home violate the Fourth Amendment?
In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the seizure of items from Weeks' residence directly violated his constitutional rights. The Court also held that the government's refusal to return Weeks' possessions violated the Fourth Amendment. To allow private documents to be seized and then held as evidence against citizens would have meant that the protection of the Fourth Amendment declaring the right to be secure against such searches and seizures would be of no value whatsoever. This was the first application of what eventually became known as the "exclusionary rule."
8th Amendment-Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Furman v. Georgia (1972)
Furman was burglarizing a private home when a family member discovered him. He attempted to flee, and in doing so tripped and fell. The gun that he was carrying went off and killed a resident of the home. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death (Two other death penalty cases were decided along with Furman: Jackson v. Georgia and Branch v. Texas. These cases concern the constitutionality of the death sentence for rape and murder convictions, respectively).
Does the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?
Yes. The Court's one-page per curiam opinion held that the imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution. In over two hundred pages of concurrence and dissents, the justices articulated their views on this controversial subject. Only Justices Brennan and Marshall believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional in all instances. Other concurrences focused on the arbitrary nature with which death sentences have been imposed, often indicating a racial bias against black defendants. The Court's decision forced states and the national legislature to rethink their statutes for capital offenses to assure that the death penalty would not be administered in a capricious or discriminatory manner.
A jury found Gregg guilty of armed robbery and murder and sentenced him to death. On appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence except as to its imposition for the robbery conviction. Gregg challenged his remaining death sentence for murder, claiming that his capital sentence was a "cruel and unusual" punishment that violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Is the imposition of the death sentence prohibited under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments as "cruel and unusual" punishment?
No. In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that a punishment of death did not violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments under all circumstances. In extreme criminal cases, such as when a defendant has been convicted of deliberately killing another, the careful and judicious use of the death penalty may be appropriate if carefully employed.
Gregg v. Georgia (1976)
What is the judicial doctrine of the "right to privacy"?
GRISWOLD v. CONNECTICUT
Griswold was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Both she and the Medical Director for the League gave information, instruction, and other medical advice to married couples concerning birth control. Griswold and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized the provision of counselling, and other medical treatment, to married persons for purposes of preventing conception.
Does the Constitution protect the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on a couple's ability to be counseled in the use of contraceptives?
Though the Constitution does not explicitly protect a general right to privacy, the various guarantees within the Bill of Rights create penumbras, or zones, that establish a right to privacy. Together, the First, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments, create a new constitutional right, the right to privacy in marital relations. The Connecticut statute conflicts with the exercise of this right and is therefore null and void.
ROE v. WADE (1971)
Roe, a Texas resident, sought to terminate her pregnancy by abortion. Texas law prohibited abortions except to save the pregnant woman's life.
Does the Constitution embrace a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy by abortion?
The Court held that a woman's right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy (recognized in Griswold v. Connecticut) protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision gave a woman total autonomy over the pregnancy during the first trimester and defined different levels of state interest for the second and third trimesters.
The right of privacy and homosexuality
BOWERS v. HARDWICK (1985)
Michael Hardwick was observed by a Georgia police officer while engaging in the act of consensual homosexual sodomy with another adult in the bedroom of his home. After being charged with violating a Georgia statute that criminalized sodomy, Hardwick challenged the statute's constitutionality in Federal District Court.
Does the Constitution confer a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in consensual sodomy, thereby invalidating the laws of many states which make such conduct illegal?
No. The divided Court found that there was no constitutional protection for acts of sodomy, and that states could outlaw those practices.
Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
Responding to a reported weapons disturbance in a private residence, Houston police entered John Lawrence's apartment and saw him and another adult man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a private, consensual sexual act. Lawrence and Garner were arrested and convicted of deviate sexual intercourse in violation of a Texas statute forbidding two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct.
Do the criminal convictions of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner under the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law, which criminalizes sexual intimacy by same-sex couples, but not identical behavior by different-sex couples, violate the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of laws? Do their criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in the home violate their vital interests in liberty and privacy protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? Should Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), be overruled?
No, yes, and yes. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Court held that the Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the Due Process Clause. After explaining what it deemed the doubtful and overstated premises of Bowers, the Court reasoned that the case turned on whether Lawrence and Garner were free as adults to engage in the private conduct in the exercise of their liberty under the Due Process Clause. "Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government," wrote Justice Kennedy. "The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual," continued Justice Kennedy. Accordingly, the Court overruled Bowers.
ROMER v. EVANS (1996)
Colorado voters adopted Amendment 2 to their State Constitution precluding any judicial, legislative, or executive action designed to protect persons from discrimination based on their "homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships."
Does Amendment 2 of Colorado's State Constitution, forbidding the extension of official protections to those who suffer discrimination due to their sexual orientation, violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause?
Yes. In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that Amendment 2 of the Colorado State Constitution violated the equal protection clause. Amendment 2 singled out homosexual and bisexual persons, imposing on them a broad disability by denying them the right to seek and receive specific legal protection from discrimination.