UNIT_3_CHAPTER_8.pdf - UNIT 3 CHAPTER 8 CIVIL LIBERTIES AND CIVIL RIGHTS Most Americans believe the terms \u201ccivil liberties\u201d and \u201ccivil rights\u201d

UNIT_3_CHAPTER_8.pdf - UNIT 3 CHAPTER 8 CIVIL LIBERTIES AND...

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UNIT 3 CHAPTER 8 CIVIL LIBERTIES AND CIVIL RIGHTS Most Americans believe the terms “civil liberties” and “civil rights” to be interchangeable. However, the two are quite different. Our war for independence was waged for liberty, to free ourselves from British rule perceived to be oppressive, intrusive and tyrannical. The catalyst for war was “ taxation without representation ” and the justification for war was Britain’s perceived violation of our civil liberties. Having defeated the British, we sought to create a government that would respect and safeguard our civil liberties – keep the government a safe distance from “we the people.” We established a government which existed to accomplish two basic goals: preserve the lives of the people and to protect the peoples’ property . Little more was expected of the new national government and little else was desired. We wished to be free, especially free of a national government which might seek to restrict our individual freedoms. Liberty or, personal freedom, became indoctrinated within American culture. Liberty is associated with civil liberties and equality is linked to civil rights. Liberty (personal freedom), not equality was the reason for going to war. Liberty (personal freedom), not equality was an original piece of American culture. Civil liberties are protections Americans have against the powers of their own governments: federal, state and local. Though a right to a fair trial, habeas corpus and protections against bills of attainder are included in our Constitution , there were no inclusions regarding freedom of speech, religion or protections against cruel and unusual punishments in the original document. To assuage the fears of the Antifederalists , the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments) were added to the Constitution as protections against the new federal government’s powers. As feared by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Sam Adams and John Hancock, each leading Antifederalists, the Constitution could empower the federal government to undermine the sovereignty of the state governments and to trample the personal liberties of “we the people.” Later, the “ due process” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment complimented the liberties granted by the Bill of Rights. Collectively, the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment insured “we the people” our freedoms of religion, speech and press and criminal rights. The protections found in the Bill of Rights form the basis for civil liberties . The First Congress was charged with creating a bill of rights as well as the construction of our judicial system ( Judiciary Act of 1789 ). Written primarily by James Madison , the Bill of Rights, as approved by the First Congress, consisted of ten liberties or protections against a too powerful federal government. The initial eight amendments deal with specific protections of individual rights, the ninth offers the potential of later protections, and the tenth is confined to states’ rights. Interestingly, the Bill of Rights was constructed to protect “we the people” from an abusive federal government.
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