Fiorina Chapter 16

Fiorina Chapter 16 - Fiorina Chapter 16: Civil Liberties...

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Fiorina Chapter 16: Civil Liberties Origins of Civil Liberties in the United States The meaning of civil liberties in the United States has been shaped by the Supreme Court, political debates, and election outcomes. It reflects the basic values shared by most citizens. Civil liberties are the fundamental freedoms that together preserve the rights of a free people. Origins of the Bill of Rights In spite of the fervor over individual rights during the American Revolution , the framers of the Constitution did not include a Bill of Rights. During ratification, the Federalists promised to add a Bill of Rights later. Few Civil Liberties before the Civil War Prior to the Civil War, the rights listed in the Bill of Rights did not play a significant role in American politics. Except, ironically, the Fifth Amendment due process clause was used to support those owning slaves. This was due to the wording of the First Amendment, which specified that “Congress shall make no law” abridging speech or religion, and the 1833 case of Barron v. Baltimore , which indicated that all of the rights in the Bill of Rights limited only the powers of the federal government and not those of the states. It would have been difficult for Chief Justice John Marshall to apply the Bill of Rights to the states, because doing so would have forced the country to confront the slavery issue. Applying the Bill of Rights to State Governments The Civil War amendments extended greatly the protection of civil rights. The 13 th , 14 th and 15 th amendments abolished slavery, redefined civil rights and liberties, and guaranteed the right to vote to all adult male citizens. The Fourteenth Amendment has been particularly important in that it contained a “ due process” clause that was explicitly directed at state governments. (“No state shall…deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”) The expansion of rights did not happen all at once. Relying on selective incorporation, the Supreme Court has applied most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states through the 14th Amendment’s due process clause (one notable exception being the Second Amendment right to bear arms). Freedom of Speech, Press, and Assembly
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The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble…” These three or closely intertwined: for free speech to be effective, it must be communicated through a free press. Unless an audience can be assembled to listen, free speech has no effect. Free Speech and Majoritarian Democracy: Free speech is vital to democracy because it allows debate of issues including the official line espoused by those in government. Even if the official line is backed by a majority, the minority still has the right to speak out. Majorities can be just as dictatorial as one despot - this is what Madison cited as the
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Fiorina Chapter 16 - Fiorina Chapter 16: Civil Liberties...

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