Azusa Pacific University
Mr. Jonathon Pyles
November 23, 2004
I. Why is America so concerned about "rights" and "liberties"?
A. Founding theory of the purpose of government to secure the natural
rights of all members
B. "We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men..."
II. Issues involving questions of rights and liberties
B. Gay marriage
C. Affirmative action
D. Internet pornography
E. School vouchers
F. U.S.A. Patriot Act
A. Bill of Rights originally protected citizens from the actions of the federal governments
B. 14th Amendment (1868): "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, property, without due process..."
1925, the 14th Amendment ("due process clause" and "equal-protection clause"), as interpreted by the Supreme Court, made the Bill of Rights applicable to the state governments, just as they had always limited the federal government
2. This is "doctrine of incorporation"
A. Freedom of Expression
1. 1st Amendment: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
things that are protected: virtually all forms of political speech;
pornography; nude dancing; burning American flag; Nazi parade through Jewish
neighborhood; political marches
a. Libel – harm another person by statements that defame his or her
b. Illegal actions (such as burning draft card); but burning flag O.K.
c. Cannot directly incite others to commit illegal acts or provoke someone to violent behavior ("fighting words")
d. Obscenity (what is obscenity?)
B. Church & State
1. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
a. Wall of Separation? (Jefferson) Court adopted this idea, but it has
b. Original meaning? Perhaps: that the government may not set up a state religion or "establish" a particular sect
c. One of the main battlegrounds: the public schools
i. Why because children's minds are shaped during this period
ii. Issues: bible reading in school, school prayer, government support of
religious schools (with supplies, teachers, money, etc...), teaching of
evolution/Creationism, reciting the pledge of allegiance
d. Court has had a hard time with this:
i. O.K. to have a nativity scene in a public park, but not a nativity scene
near a courthouse, but a menorah is O.K. since it is next to a Christmas tree
ii. No prayer in schools, but prayer O.K. in Congress to open each session
a. You can pretty much do what you want so long as it does not cause some
serious harm to others
b. But what is a "religion"? Does it have to be organized, or can it be a deeply held personal belief about external things?
c. People refuse the draft on religious grounds: if their "conscience, spurred by the deeply held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs, would give them no rest or peace if they allowed themselves to become part of an instrument of war."