Rights and Liberties
Overview, Key Understandings & Questions
Theme Key Understandings
- Civil liberties and civil rights are related but distinct and can be in conflict with each other
- Government documents provide a framework for the protection of civil rights and liberties in a society
- The judicial branch interprets and defines civil liberties and civil rights as they apply in practice
- Civil liberties protect against government overreach
- Civil rights assure equal protection under the law
- The attainment of civil rights is an ongoing process, with different groups achieving parity at different times
- The judicial branch is tasked with finding a balance between the protection of individual liberty and maintaining positive social order
Freedom of Religion
- How have Supreme Court rulings specifically defined Americans' right to freely practice their religion?
- How have Supreme Court rulings defined the relationship between the U.S. government and religious institutions?
Freedom of Speech
- How have Supreme Court rulings defined the categories of speech that are protected for all Americans?
- In what ways is freedom of speech protected that are not related specifically to spoken words? For example, think about symbolic speech and campaign finance.
Freedom of the Press
- Explain why freedom of the press is important to maintaining a functioning democracy.
- What two rules has the Supreme Court established regarding freedom of the press?
Freedom of Assembly
- What kinds of issues are typically addressed in freedom of assembly cases?
- How have the courts limited freedom of assembly? What are the primary reasons they will usually limit it?
The Jury System
- Why was the institution of a jury system so important to the founders of the United States?
- Identify examples from American history that demonstrate the pros and cons of a jury system.
Due Process of Law
- What does it mean to be protected by due process of law?
- Why do you think it is common for American citizens to underestimate the importance of this protection?
- How has American history created a complicated past record of protection for civil rights?
- Do you believe continued progress is still needed in regards to civil rights protections? Why or why not?
- Why are voting rights essential to a functioning American democracy?
- Identify three key ways voting rights have been limited over the course of American history.
- Why is it critical for American citizens to not just enjoy the benefits of their citizenship but to also uphold their responsibilities?
- Should there be penalties for citizens who do not fulfill such responsibilities of citizenship as participating in the democratic process? For example, in some nations citizens must pay a fine if they do not vote. If so, why, and what should those penalties be? If not, why not?
- Birthright citizenship, the process of gaining citizenship to a country because one was born there, has sparked numerous debates about the effects of immigration on the country. Should the United States retain birthright citizenship?
"Living in America: Teaching U.S. Rights & Liberties." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Display/2142496?cid=246. Accessed 6 Dec. 2019.
Entry ID: 2142496