The Bill of Rights Explained

The Bill of Rights Explained
1st Amendment – (RAPPS) – Right to religion, assembly, petition, press and speech
The Zenger case 1735 – John Peter Zenger was accused of libel (printing false statements) against the
colonial governor of New York. Zenger was found not guilty because what he said was the truth.
Schenck v. US (1919) – Charles Schenck handed out pamphlets during WW1 encouraging people to
avoid the draft because it was equivalent to “involuntary servitude,” or slavery. Schenck’s speech
presented a “clear and present danger.” Free speech can be limited during war.
NY Times v. Nixon (1971) – President Nixon tried to prevent the NY Times from publishing the Pentagon
Papers (documents that showed that former President Johnson misled the American people about
Vietnam). Decision: Documents could be published because they did not threaten national security.
Tinker v. Des Moines- John and Mary Tinker went to school wearing black armbands in protest against
the Vietnam War. The Administration sent them home because they felt the symbolic protest would be
disruptive. Students’ rights do not stop at the “school house gate”
Engle v. Vitale – The New York State Board of Regents had students recite a prayer before school each
day. "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us,
our parents, our teachers and our Country." Decision: school can’t force you to pray.
Assembly – Civil Rights Marches; Martin Luther King’s famous March on Washington for Jobs and
Freedom in 1963. “I have a dream speech.”
Petition- Lobbying, letter-writing, e-mail campaigns, testifying before tribunals, filing lawsuits,
supporting referenda, collecting signatures for ballot initiatives, peaceful protests and picketing: all
public articulation of issues, complaints and interests designed to spur government action qualifies
under the petition clause
2nd Amendment- Right to bear arms
Fear – individuals feared that they would be defenseless against a standing army. They wanted a society
of citizen soldiers to be prepared to defend themselves.
3rd Amendment – No Quartering of Troops
Britain made it a practice to have colonists’ house soldiers.
4th Amendment – Law enforcement must have a warrant to search or seize; standard is
“probable cause”
Mapp v. Ohio 1961 – the police were searching for a fugitive and thought Mapp was hiding the
individual in her house. The police entered her house without a warrant, did not find the fugitive, but
found “pornographic” material. Decision: evidence found without a warrant must be excluded.
“exclusionary rule”
The Bill of Rights Explained
New Jersey v. TLO – a teacher brought a girl who was caught smoking in the bathroom to the Vice
Principal’s office. The Vice Principal went through the girl’s purse looking for cigarettes. He found
cigarettes, cigarette rolling papers, marijuana, a pipe, plastic bags, a substantial amount of money, a list
with students who owed her money, and two letters implicating her in drug dealing. Decision: The
search by the VP was not reasonable since smoking was legal in the school and TLO said she did not
smoke. However, schools officials may search students with “reasonable suspicion” which is a lower
standard than “probable cause.”
5th Amendment – due process rights
“Take the 5th” – right to remain silent, right against self-incrimination
double jeopardy- you may not be tried twice for the same crime
“takings clause” – you must be compensated for property taken for public use
Miranda v. Arizona –Under police questioning, Ernesto Miranda admitted to kidnapping and raping an
18 year old woman. However, his attorney argued that his confession must be thrown out because his
attorney was not present during the questioning. Decision: confession was thrown out.
6th Amendment- right to a fair and speedy trial
Gideon v. Wainwright – Earl Gideon was accused of breaking into a pool hall. He was arrested and
jailed. When his case went to trial he could not afford an attorney, so he had to defend himself. He
wrote a letter from jail to the Supreme Court to hear his case. The Supreme Court stated that
defendants in criminal cases must be provided an attorney if they cannot afford one.
7th Amendment-right to a trial by jury
8th Amendment –freedom from cruel and unusual punishment
9th Amendment- rights not listed in the constitution are still guaranteed
Is there a right to privacy? This is controversial.
Roe v. Wade- “Jane Roe” argued that a Texas anti-abortion law violated her right to privacy. Decision:
The Supreme Court agreed that the law was a violation of her constitutional right and made abortion
legal in the US. The court further defined when a woman could have an abortion.
10th Amendment –Reserved powers are guaranteed to the states
States have the power to grant licenses, control gambling, establish speed limits, a drinking age, etc.
States control education