The United States of America is and has always been very close to realizing democracy’s ideal of a country where there is “liberty and justice for all”, though a number of factors have conspired to move the country away from them in the past, and threaten to do so in our immediate future. Though their outcomes have varied considerably over the years, the main factors causing the U.S to stray from its ideals of freedom and equality have always been one or both of the following factors—discrimination and war. These factors are perennial, affecting every nation that has ever existed and probably every nation that will exist, and our nation’s reaction to them has been on par with that of every other nation in a similar position. From America’s flirtations with imperialism to slavery and civil rights, there have always instances in our nation’s history where we have lost sight of our nation’s founding principles. Although our country has had times where it has lost sight of the democratic ideals it was founded upon, it still is and has always been very close to realizing the ideal of a nation “with liberty and justice for all.”
A conspicuous example of the freedom our country provides us can be found in our freedom of expression. Any American can say anything they want about anyone or anything, and they cannot be punished for it, provided it doesn’t cause harm to others (Gerstenfeld, 45). For example, the Westboro Baptist Church (henceforth referred to as WBC) has for years offended many people through
their offensive yet nonviolent protests against homosexuals, the military, and the government itself, among others (Gerstenfeld, 125). Yet the Westboro Baptist Church cannot be punished for its offensive speech (Constitutional Convention, 21). In fact, the government has even defended the right of the WBC to express itself freely, even if it causes offense and emotional pain to others in the Supreme Court case Snyder v. Phelps (TIME). This Supreme Court ruling supports the ruling the Supreme Court made in the 1989 Texas v. Johnson case, where the Court ruled that even burning an American flag is protected by the first Amendment (Lively, 212). President Barack Obama himself once stated in a speech addressing the U.N, “…as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.” (The Wall Street Journal) The American people enjoy a substantial amount of freedom of expression, and this freedom is a testament to our nation’s respect for the democratic ideals of freedom and justice for all.
Yet another conspicuous example of the freedom our country provides us is our country’s faithful provision of equal justice under the law, regardless of ethnic or class background. In the Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, the Court ruled that state courts are obligated to provide legal counsel in criminal cases if the defendant cannot afford a lawyer (Vile, 356). This case demonstrates the
willingness of the government to go out of its way to defend the rights of its financially disadvantaged citizens. The Supreme Court ruling in Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States forced one of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the history of the world to end its abusive corporate practices—practices that the Court knew would not be in the best interest of the average American (Vile, 40). Furthermore, in the Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled that every person in custody must be informed of his or her 5th Amendment rights (Lively, 294). Perhaps even more telling is the fact that the son of poor Mexican immigrants with a criminal record could confront the government in a court of law and win. Our country’s judicial history is full of examples that show our country’s willingness to provide equal justice to all its citizens, further demonstrating the United States’...
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Due: November 28th, 2012
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