Civics Questions Essay, Research Paper
1. How is government authority in the United States limited? Give one example.
The government can not interfere with those rights granted to the people through the Constitution
or the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court is there to protect our individual rights and freedoms.
2.What is the difference between absolute rights and relative rights?
No person has an absolute freedom of speach; they are not free to say whatever they like. We do
have a relative freedom of speech though, we may say whatever we like as long as it does not interfere with
the rights of others.
3. Do all of the rights guarented by the Constitution apply to all people in the United States? Explain.
Most rights in the constitution are for all people in the United States, aliens as well as citizens.
But not for all rights. For instance, the right to travel freely does not always apply to aliens, especially
during times of war.
4. What is the Bill of Rights? When and why was it added to the Constitution?
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the constitution, gauranteeing many rights to the
people of the United States. It was added to the constitution in 1791 to meet one of the major objections in
the ratification of the Constitution.
5.What effect has the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause had on the Bill of Rights?
The Bill of Rights on it’s own applies only to the national government, not the states. The 14th
amendment “nationalized” the Bill of Rights applying most of it’s restrictions to the states also.
6. Why are the rights set out in the 1st amendment called “fundamental freedoms”?
These rights, the right to have freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition, are
fundamental freedoms because the are the basis of American government. Our system would not work
without these basic freedoms.
7. What is the excessive entanglement standard? Why is it important?
A state’s school aid law must meet theses requirements: (1) the purpose of the aid must be clearly
secular, not religous, (2) its primary effect must neither advance nor inhibit religion, and (3) it must avoid
an excessive entanglement of government with religion. It is important to prevent three main “evils”;
sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement of the sovereign in religous activities.
8. The Free Exercise Clause protects an absolute right to what? A relative right to what?
It provides an absolute right to believe whatever a person wants to believe in the matters of
religion. But it only applies a relative right to act as in matters of religion.
9. What are the two fundamental purposes of the 1st and 14th Amendments’ protections of free speech,
free press, petition, and assembly?
(1) To gaurantee to each person a right of free expression – in the spoken and the written word, and
by all other means of comunication as well; and
(2) To ensure to all persons a full, wide-ranging discussion of public affairs.
10. List two examples of types of speech or expression that are not protected by the Constitution. Explain
why these actions are not protected.
Slander-Because it infringes on the rights of others.
Obscenity- is also not allowed because it infringes on other’s rights.
11. What is prior restraint? Is it constitutional?
Prior restraint is to curb ideas before they are expressed, and no it is not constitutional.
12. What kinds of assembly are not protected by the Constitution? Why?
Those in which the participants trespass on private property, and those that inhibit the running of
public service places like schools and court houses.
13. Why has the Supreme Court often upheld state and local laws that require advance notice and permits
for demonstrations in public places?
Because the authority of a municipality to maintain safety supercedes the right for demonstrations.
14. What is the Smith Act? The Mccarran Act? What has been the effect of Supreme Court decisions
involving these laws?
Smith act-it is unlawful to teach or advocate the violent overthrow of the United States
McCarran- All Communist-Action and Comunist-Front’s must register with the Attorney General.
They have both been sharply limited, leaving them as hollow shells.