Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Vocabulary and Court Case Study Guide

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Civil Rights and Civil Liberties:

Civil liberties: the legal constitutional protections against government. Although our civil liberties are formally set down in the Bill of Rights, the courts, police, and legislature define their meaning.

Bill of Rights: the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press and guarantee defendants’ rights.

First Amendment: the constitutional amendment that establishes the four great liberties: freedom of press, of speech, of religion, and of assembly.

Barron v. Baltimore: the 1833 Supreme Court decision holding that the Bill of Rights restrained only the national government, not the states and cities.

Gitlow v. New York: the 1925 Supreme Court decision holding that freedoms of press and speech are "fundamental personal rights and liberties protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the states" as well as the federal government. Compare Barron v. Baltimore.

Fourteenth Amendment: the constitutional amendment adopted after the Civil War that states "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." See also due process clause.

Due process clause: part of the 14th Amendment guaranteeing that persons cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property by the United States or state governments without due process of law. See also Giltow v. New York.

Incorporation doctrine: The legal concept under which the Supreme Court has nationalized the Bill of Rights by making most of its provisions applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment.

Establishment clause: Part of the First Amendment stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Free exercise clause: A First Amendment provision that prohibits government from interfering with the practice of religion.

Lemon v. Kaurtzman: the 1971 Supreme Court decision that established that aid to church-related schools must (1) have a secular legislative purpose; (2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) not foster excessive government entanglement with religion.

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris: the 2002 Supreme Court case that upheld a state providing families with vouches that could be used to pay for tuition at religious schools.

Engel v. Vitale: the 1962 Supreme Court decision holding that state officials violated the First Amendment when they wrote a prayer to be recited by New York's schoolchildren.

School Distract of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp: a 1963 Supreme Court decision holding that a Pennsylvania law requiring Bible reading in schools violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Prior restraint: A government preventing material from being published. This is a common method of limiting the press in some nations, but it is usually unconstitutional in the United States, according to the First Amendment and as confirmed in the 1931 Supreme Court case of Near v. Minnesota.

Near v. Minnesota: the 1931 Supreme Court decision holding that the First Amendment protects newspapers from prior restraint.

Schenck v. United States: a 1919 decision upholding the conviction of a socialist who had urged young men to resist the draft during World War I. Justice Holmes declared that government can limit speech if the speech provokes a “clear and present danger” of substantive evils.

Zurcher v. Stanford Daily: a 1978 Supreme Court decision holding that a proper search warrant could be applied to a newspaper as well as to anyone else without necessarily violating the First Amendment rights to freedom of the press.

Roth v. United States: a 1957 Supreme Court...
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