Chapter 13: Constitutional Freedoms
The Constitution guarantees all
citizens of the United States certain rights. These rights
include such liberties as freedom of speech and freedom of
religion. Chapter 13 explores these rights as well as others,
and discusses how they are protected under the Constitution.
Section 1 deals with the
Bill of Rights and the constitutional freedoms and protections
that it provides. The Constitution is often called a living
document because through amendments and interpretation, the
Constitution changes along with society. Key terms such as
human rights and incorporation are introduced and explain
how people are protected from all levels of government.
Section 2 discusses freedom
of religion and how interpretation of this freedom has sparked
many debates. In the middle of these debates stand two clausesthe
establishment clause and the free exercise clause. Landmark
cases such as Everson v. Board of Education
and the flag salute cases helped shape policy through court
interpretation of the law.
Section 3 introduces freedom
of speech and what this means to United States citizens. As
citizens we often take this right for granted. Many people
believe in freedom of speech until alternate ideas differ
from popular opinion. The First Amendment protects this right
and allows for diversity of opinion.
Section 4 deals with freedom
of the press and the debate over this First Amendment right.
Freedom of the press is considered to be similar to freedom
of speech and oftentimes is protected as the same. However,
a few cases throughout history have challenged this notion.
Key terms such as prior restraint, gag order, and shield laws
put this debate in perspective.
Section 5 introduces freedom
of assembly and explains how it is protected under the Constitution.
Without freedom of assembly there could be no political parties
or special interest groups to influence government. Freedom
of assembly allows United States citizens to peaceably assemble
and make views public to government officials. Assembly could
include petitions, letters, lobbying, and marching with signs.