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Civil liberties

-Something the government cannot do.
-Originally only limited the power of the national government.
-There were no guarantees that the rights would be protected by all states.


Bill of Rights

-First 10 amendments of constitution
-Created because of a fear of tyrannical government.
-Did not protect people from state's actions.


Freedom of Religion

-First Amendment
-Establishment and free exercise of religion
-Must have separation of church and state
-Government should not endorse or attack any religion.


Establishment clause

Prohibits government from establishing and supporting a church\religion, thus separating church and state.


Free exercise Clause

Government cannot stop anyone from practicing the religion of their choice.


Writ of habeas corpus

A court order in which a jailer brings in a prisoner and explains why the person is imprisoned. If the judge finds the imprisonment unlawful, he or she will order the jailer to change the situation.


Bill of attainder

A law that inflicts punishment without a trial.


Ex post facto law

A law that inflicts punishment for an act that was not illegal at the time it was committed.


Incorporation theory

Bill of Rights is incorporated in the 14th Amendment's protection against state government actions.


Lemon vs. Kurtman

Supreme Court ruled that direct state aid could not be used to fund religious instruction.


School Vouchers

Vouchers were state-issued funds used by people to buy education, and was declared in court that it did not violate establishment clause.


Engel vs. Vitale

School prayer. Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools.


Prior restraint

Restraining an activity before it has actually occurred. E.g. censorship
Supreme Court justices are against prior restraints on expression.


New York Times vs. United States (Pentagon Papers case)

Court ruled that Times and Washington Post have the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, a secret history of the U. S. government's involvement in the Vietnam War.


Symbolic Speech

Nonverbal forms of expression like hats, clothes, flag-burning, etc
Protected by 1st Amendment


Tinker vs. Des Moines School District

Court ruled that the wearing of black armbands by students in protest against the Vietnam War was a form of speech protected by the 1st Amendment.


Commercial speech

Advertisements; was once unprotected, but now given more protection under 1st Amendment.


Gitlow Case

A radical anarchist distributed pamphlets urging the violent overthrow of the government. Technically, free speech is protected by 1st Amendment but the bad tendency rule punished him because his speech could lead to "evil."


Defamation of character

Wrongfully hurting another person's good reputation through slander or libel.



Making false, defamatory statements about someone.



Written slander.


Roe vs. Wade

Court ruled that anti-abortion laws violated Jane Roe's right to privacy.


In re Quinlan and Cruzan vs. Director, Missouri Department of Health

Supreme Court ruled that patient has right to refuse treatment and "right to die".


Case of Terri Schiavo

A woman who was incapable of being physically active and relied on a feeding tube to keep herself alive told her husband to allow her to die. Her parents fought this in court, but lost on the ground that a spouse, not a parent, is the appropriate legal guardian for a married person.


Physician-assisted Suicide

Courts have outlawed physician-assisted suicide until 1996, when Court decided this issue should be left to the states.


Osborn vs. Ohio

Ban on private possession of child pornograpy


Griswold vs Connecticut

People have a right to government records


Webster case

Allowed states to ban the use of public hospitals for abortion.


14th Amendment

No unreasonable search or seizure


5th Amendment

No coerced confessions, no compulsory self-incrimination.