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1. What are “civil liberties” and where are these found in the U.S. Constitution? What is meant by the “nationalization” of the Bill of Rights and how did this come about?

2. Examine the 15 civil liberties listed on pages 118-119. Is it appropriate that the federal courts have imposed a single standard for all 15 of these liberties on the fifty states? Or, should some of the 15 have been left to state courts to define? Explain your reasoning.

3. At first glance, the freedoms clarified in the First and Second Amendments seem straightforward. However, the application of these rights has always been controversial. Relate how and why each of these freedoms has been the subject of considerable debate.

 (a) First Amendment: religion

 (b) First Amendment: speech

 (c) First Amendment: press

 (d) Second Amendment: bearing arms

4. Find one controversial civil liberty that is currently being debated from the many described in this section and indicate where you stand and why.

5. The basic freedoms guaranteed to the criminally accused in the Bill of Rights also seem straightforward, but these too have been controversial. Identify the rights guaranteed in each Amendment, and then relate controversies surrounding them in our criminal justice system.

  (a) Fourth Amendment

  (b) Fifth Amendment

  (c) Sixth Amendment

  (d) Eighth Amendment

6. Find one controversial civil liberty that is currently being debated from the many described in this section and indicate where you stand and why.

7. Where is the “right to privacy” found in the Constitution and how has the interpretation of this civil liberty expanded over the past 90 years? Explain how and why this civil liberty has been extremely controversial in each expansion. Do you feel we that our country has gone too far in asserting this right, or not far enough? Discuss recent controversies as you express your opinion.

8. Civil Liberties and Your Future:

Advances in technology are allowing unprecedented levels of surveillance of American citizens by government agencies. Given the rapid pace of technological developments, we can assume that this capacity will continue to expand into the future. Are you concerned about the increased use of electronic surveillance on private citizens? The ACLU views this as a significant invasion of our privacy. Or, do you see this as a positive development for your future? The Heritage Foundation defends ‘metadata’ as a vital anti-terrorism tool. Explain your position, making reference to both of these sources in your reply.

Nationalization of the Bill of Rights and Its Origin

Civil liberties rights retained by citizens of the United States as mandated by the constitution and interpreted by the highest court (Supreme Court). They are defined as an individual’s legal and constitutional protections from entities and sections more powerful than an individual. The liberties when clearly defined make up the bill of rights. These rights are found in the constitution of the United States.

Nationalization of the bill of rights referred to as total incorporation of the bill of rights full into state legislation. The nationalization of the bill of rights came about as a result of the fourteenth amendment which contained a clause that was used to make most of the bill of rights applicable to the states and championed for the recognition of substantive and procedural rights. Nationalization of the bill of rights can also be referred to as total incorporation.

Imposing the single standards was the ideal situation. This is ideal for acting as a standard basis and an agent of exercising equality, this is also due to the fact that almost all of the fifteen freedoms cut across all the fifty states, and none is directed to a particular state. Having a different standard for each and every state will result in a constitutional crisis since the same freedoms applicable in all the fifty states will have different interpretation and standards in each state and this will lead to a state of confusion among the people and the systems.

Religion is a straightforward issue in the bill of rights, regardless of what this has been the subject of heated debates on its applicability and which religions are to be considered as acceptable in the states although each and every individual has a right to be a member of any religious group of his choice. This heated argument comes up as a result of different individual opinions and state believes. Many individuals have different perspectives as to what religion is considered acceptable. The leadership of the states also constitutes a greater percentage on the direction which the debates take, this is due to the fact that the state leaders have a great impact on the opinions of their followers and some followers consider them as always being right.

Freedom of speech is very essential in each and every republic or state. Each and every individual has a right to express his or her views whenever deemed convenient. This has been subject to heated debate and controversies in the current times since the definition of what is really acceptable in regards to speech is not clearly given and various individuals have different opinions as to what is considered right. The amendment on speech is also quite tricky in its interpretation since speech can be interpreted differently depending on the times and context and hence making it a subject of controversies.

The press is quite an important tool in each and every state. They play a very critical role in society and hence their freedom is quite essential for economic social and political development of a nation or state. This freedom has been quite controversial in the recent past as dissemination of information has taken different twists. The press is not afraid to air their views on various platforms. The controversies have been as a result of the fact that no clear explanation is given as to what information is considered malicious or inciting. Articles and journal published in newspapers and magazines are at times misinterpreted to give a different picture from what was intended by the writer.

Single Standards for All 15 Liberties or Left to State Courts?

The right of owning a legally registered gun has been subject to many controversies. The second amendment basing on the case of McDonald v Chicago, an individual is not supposed to own or use a gun within city limits as this is considered as a violation of the second amendment. This makes up the topic of debate and controversies are the city limits clearly defined and if so how then is one supposed to protect him when within the city limits are there any other alternatives to arms.

The freedom of the press has been under serious scrutiny in the recent years. This is due to the fact that the media has not been left to do its duty as the eye of the people by the political elephants. The media has the right to inform the public of any information they deem appropriate without any external intervention from the political, social or financial classes except for the purpose of information dissemination to various individuals and sectors of the economy. Media gagging should be a thing of the past in the 21st century.

Right to Unreasonable search and seizure.

This right is based on the supreme court’s decision on Wolf v. Colorado (1949) exclusion of unlawfully seized evidence was incorporated against the states in Mapp v. Ohio (1961)

This right has been subject to many controversies since the clear definition is not given on what is to be termed as lawfully obtained evidence.

Protection against jeopardy and protection against self-incrimination

This rights and freedom have been very controversial in the recent years. This is due to the fact that this right has been on most occasions infringed due to different perceptions on the definition of as to when one is forced to give evidence that is self-incriminating.

An individual is not supposed to be on trial twice for the same case. An opposite of the same is an infringement on his rights and freedoms.

Right to remain silent

Each and every individual has a right to remain silent and this right should be respected. Any state of cohesion on the individual to say anything is purported to be an infringement on his rights and freedoms. This forms the basis of heated debates and controversies since individuals are forced to make self-incriminating statements.

Eminent domain

An individual has a right to eminent domain as far as his or her property is concerned. This individual has to be compensated whenever a particular event that is tied to this property is executed. This has been subject to heated debates since most individuals whose properties are compromised are not compensated for the same.

Right to counsel in any criminal trial.

Each and every individual has a right to fair representation in a court of law. This is the essence of an individual being assigned a public lawyer for the same. Failure for this to happen is considered an infringement on an individual’s rights. Many people have been denied access to state lawyers on baseless reasons and this leads to heated debates and controversies.

Eighth amendment

Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

Each and every individual is entitled to a free and fair trial constituting of fair punishments. Punishments are offered in reference to the offenses committed. These rights are subject to heated discussions on the basis of the punishments offered. Some punishments offered are overboard, that is they are not equivalent to the crime committed.

The right to privacy is found in the bill of rights in the American constitution. Over the past 90 years, the right to privacy has greatly developed with the changes in the social, political, social, economic and technological sectors. These sectorial changes have made this right quite controversial due to the additional information that always pops up with each change and expansion.

The origins of the right to privacy are can be traced back to the 19th century as a common law right. This right was embraced by the US Supreme Court as a constitutional right.  This right does not protect all forms of conduct pursued behind closed doors.

This right has been quite controversial due to the fact that so many privacy issues are emerging with the changing and emerging trends such as technology. An individual’s information is supposed to remain private and is not to be disclosed by any individual. Currently, this right has been fringed since individuals can access other people’s information illegally using technology. Currently, there has been a heated debate on how this right can be protected and the definition of private information is still a critical issue among various individuals. With each expansion or economic growth and development is it social, political or economic. Various issues arise that can be considered as private and hence this requires consistent development and review of private information.

With the increase in the use of technology among the American citizens and government, Information that is considered private has increased and as a result in the advancement in technology many privacy issues arise. Individuals are able to access individual information without their consent. The government too is monitoring activities of their citizens through surveillance a situation considered to be an infringement of the right to privacy (ACLU) although surveillance is a development towards the future the American government should develop alternate ways for surveillance without infringing the right to privacy. The use of metadata can be a vital antiterrorism tool. (Heritage)

Reference:

The Bill of Rights: A Brief History

Janda, Kenneth; Berry, Jeffrey M; Goldman, Jerry (2008). The challenge of Democracy; government in America

Gordon, Jesse. Civil liberties vs, Civil Rights

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