10chapter11

10chapter11 - 11 Civil Liberties Civil liberties are the...

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Unformatted text preview: 11 Civil Liberties Civil liberties are the basic individual freedoms from government interference that are crucial to sustaining a democratic government. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids congressional restrictions on the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, petition, and religion, and over time the Fourteenth Amendment has been held by the U.S. Supreme Court to apply most of these protections to the statesa process known as incorporation . The states all have similar constitutional guarantees, suggesting agreement that these rights are of fundamental importance, but this has not precluded disagreement about how these freedoms were to be protected. C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C 11 Civil Liberties The meaning of any political guarantee must be fought over, and in the South, especially, the political culture has been slow to grant individual freedoms to African Americans and Mexican Americans. In the past two decades, however, the Texas judiciary has opened up and become more active in this area. Because there are always politicians and private citizens who do not understand or value civil liberties, there are constant battles, sometimes in the legislature, but more often in the courts. C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C 11 Civil Liberties Freedom of Expression Although "freedom of speech and press" seems to be an unambiguous phrase, there have been many problems of interpretation. In 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Gitlow v. New York , ruled for the first time that the freedom of speech and press guarantees of the First Amendment were binding on state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. The Court's interpretation of the First Amendment has evolved to the point that nonspeech acts intended to convey a political message are now protected. C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C 11 Civil Liberties For example, at the 1984 Republican national convention in Dallas, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag in protest and was arrested for violating a Texas law against flag desecration. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Texas v. Johnson that flag burning was "symbolic speech" protected by the First Amendment. A large majority of Americans showed, by their opposition to this decision, that they failed to understand that the importance of the First Amendment lies in protecting unpopular, minority opinions. In response to public opinion, the U.S. Congress passed the Flag Protection Act of 1989, but a federal court quickly struck down this law for the same reason that the Supreme Court had invalidated the Texas statute. Protestors against the Iraq War during the spring of 2003 in Austin claimed that they were exercising their right to civil disobedience by blocking traffic but the Austin police arrested some protesters to protect the citys residents from disruption of their lives....
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10chapter11 - 11 Civil Liberties Civil liberties are the...

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