Civil Liberties and Rights

Civil Liberties and Rights - The Bill of Rights: A Charter...

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The Bill of Rights: A Charter of Liberties A bill of rights had been proposed during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but there was considerable disagreement regarding the need for such protections. Antifederalists, such as James Madison, believed that the great object of the Constitution was to preserve popular government while protecting individuals from "unjust" majorities. Federalists, like Alexander Hamilton, believed that a bill of rights was unnecessary. The states ratified ten of the amendments in 1791. I. How does the Bill of Rights provide for individual liberties? The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to limit governmental power over the individual, placing personal liberty beyond the reach of government. Each individual's rights to life, liberty, and property, due process of law, and equal protection under the law are not subject to majority rule. II. What are the differences between substantive and procedural liberties? Substantive liberties are restraints limiting what the government shall have the power to do, such as restricting freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or freedom of the press. Procedural liberties are restraints on how the government can act. For example, citizens are guaranteed due process of law when they are charged with a crime. Nationalizing the Bill of Rights I. Does the Bill of Rights limit only the national government or does it limit the states as well? The Bill of Rights states that "Congress shall make no law . . .," thus only the powers of the national government are directly limited. In 1833, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights should not apply to state actions. II. How and when did the Supreme Court nationalize the Bill of Rights? The U.S. Supreme Court began applying the Bill of Rights to state actions in 1897 by using the Fourteenth Amendment to prohibit states from taking private property for public use without just compensation. Not until 1925 did the Supreme Court apply the Bill of Rights to states by ruling that freedom of speech is protected at the state level. In 1937, the Supreme Court decided on "selective incorporation," meaning that only some of the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights applied to states and that each right would be considered individually. The First Amendment: Freedom of Religion I. How does the First Amendment guarantee the nonestablishment and
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free exercise of religion? The establishment clause provides that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. This has created a "wall of separation" between church and state The Supreme Court has outlawed school prayer and Bible readings in public schools. The free exercise clause protects an individual's right to believe
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This note was uploaded on 10/26/2009 for the course POLISCI 50830 taught by Professor Stevens during the Spring '09 term at MATC Madison.

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Civil Liberties and Rights - The Bill of Rights: A Charter...

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