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Government - Unit 4, Chapter 19: Civil Liberties: First Amendment Freedoms
Transcript of Government - Unit 4, Chapter 19: Civil Liberties: First Amendment Freedoms
Civil Liberties: First Amendment Freedoms
Section 1: The Unalienable Rights
These are all of your First Amendment Rights
Section 4: Freedom of Assembly and Petition
Section 2: Freedom of Religion
Section 3: Freedom of Speech and Press
As all of you know, the United States was established with a commitment to freedom. The Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution) help outline some of those freedoms.
The Constitution guarantees rights and liberties to the American people. Civil liberties are protections against government (freedom of religion, speech, press, fair trial). Civil rights are reserved for the positive acts of government that seek to make constitutional guarantees a reality for all people.
It is very important to remember that your rights are RELATIVE, they are not ABSOLUTE! Rights are guaranteed to you as a citizen but that does not mean you have the right to do whatever you want!
In fact, non-citizens are given many of the same rights in the United States as citizens. Why?
Also, some of your rights can come into conflict with one another so the courts often have to take this into account...
The Bill of Rights only applied to the National government (not the states) until the passage of the 14th Amendment which stated that "no state shall...deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." This is also known as the Due Process clause.
There are two guarantees of religious freedom...
These guarantees prohibit an "establishment of religion" (the Establishment Clause).
And any arbitrary interference by government in "the free exercise" of religion (the Free Exercise Clause).
The Establishment Clause sets up, in Thomas Jefferson's words, "a wall of separation between church and state."
However, this does not mean that they are enemies or even strangers to one another.
Nearly all property of and contributions to religious sects are free from federal, State, and local taxation. Most public officials take an oath of office in the name of God.
One important factor to remember is that the Establishment Clause cannot be pinned down to precise terms...
The Supreme Court has ruled on seasonal displays such as nativity scenes that were on public property and set up by the local government.
In 1984, the Court held that the city of Pawtucket was allowed to include the Christian nativity scene in its holiday display, which also featured nonreligious objects such as candy canes and Santa's sleigh and reindeer.
However, in 1989 the Court did not allow a city to display a large display celebrating the birth of Jesus on the grand stairway in the county courthouse, with a banner proclaiming "Glory to God in the Highest" because the display "endorsed Christian doctrine."
The second part of religious freedom set up in the Constitution is the Free Exercise Clause, which guarantees to each person the right to believe whatever he or she chooses to believe in matters of religion.
However, no person has an absolute right to act as he or she chooses. The Free Exercise Clause does not give anyone the right to violate criminal laws, offend public morals, or otherwise threaten the safety of the community.
The guarantees of free speech and press in the 1st and 14th amendments serve two important purposes:
Guarantee each person a right of free expression in a variety of forms
Guarantee to all persons a full, wide-ranging discussion of public affairs
The American system of government depends on the ability of people to make sound, reasoned judgments on matters of public opinion.
The guarantees of free speech and press are intended to protect the expression of unpopular views. Why?
"Freedom for the thought that we hate."
But again, no one has the right to say anything they want. No person has the right to libel (print false and malicious words) or slander (speak false and malicious words) another or use obscene words...etc...etc...
Seditious speech is an example of speech that is not protected by the constitution. Seditious speech is the urging or advocating of the overthrow of the government by force or to disrupt its lawful activities.
As I mentioned the other day, the Constitution does NOT allow for prior restraint on spoken or written words. Except in extreme circumstances government cannot stop you from expressing something.
The Constitution also protects symbolic speech.
People can communicate ideas by conduct, by the way they do a particular thing.
A person can "say" something with a facial expression or a shrug of the shoulders, or by carrying a sign or wearing an armband. This expression by conduct is known as symbolic speech.
Picketing is an example of symbolic speech. Picketing involves patrolling of a business site by workers who are on strike. The picketers are trying to inform the public of the controversy, and to persuade others to dissociate with the business.
Another example to think back to is the Texas v. Johnson case...
The Constitution protects "the right of the people to peaceably assemble" or gather with one another to express their views on public matters.
There are three restrictions on assembly:
However, the government must have CONTENT NEUTRAL rules when it comes to regulating assembly.
What do you think that means?
Also, remember that the right to assemble is the right to assemble on public property not private property.
The guarantees of freedom of assembly and petition include a right of association.
That is, those guarantees include the right to associate with others to promote political, economic, and other social causes.