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Political Science
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Community College / Lower Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • American Government
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    Civil Liberties: Course Map & Recommended Resources


    Civil Liberties

    The resources included here are intended to map to the following learning objectives for an American Government Course:

    1. Define the concept of civil liberties
    2. Explain the difference between civil liberties and civil rights including identifying issues that overlap both concepts
    3. Discuss those civil liberties considered essential to a constitutional democracy
    4. Identify the civil liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution
    5. Describe the constitutional rights of individuals accused of a crime
    6. Explain the historical evolution of civil liberties in American society
    7. Describe the role of the federal courts in interpreting and applying civil liberties

    Recommended Textbooks

    Discussion Questions and Key Concepts

    Discussion Questions

    1. Did the Bill of Rights (1791) create rights or simply recognize rights that already existed? Explain. What constitutionally-protected rights do you have that are not listed in the Bill of Rights?
    2. Distinguish between civil liberties and civil or equal rights. Provide an example of each.
    3. According to the Supreme Court is obscenity constitutionally protected speech? What are some of the key issues revolving around obscenity?
    4. Describe the USA Patriot Act with regards to wiretapping and terrorist activity. Discuss how the USA Patriot Act is consistent or inconsistent with Locke’s conception of the role of government.
    5. Discuss the two main ways that the Second Amendment has been interpreted. Some have suggested that the Second Amendment should be repealed. Do you agree? Why or why not?
    6. Many have suggested that our individual rights are defined by those at the extreme. In other words, if extreme speech is protected, then ordinary speech is protected. Do you agree with this approach? Provide an example of a recent Supreme Court case that illustrates this approach. Is there any speech that you think that is clearly not protected speech?

    Key terms or concepts (define):

    1. Due process
    2. Establishment clause
    3. Free exercise clause
    4. Sedition and Alien Acts of 1798
    5. Clear and present danger test
    6. Exclusionary rule
    7. Cruel and unusual punishment
    8. Evolving standards of decency, with respect to the 8th Amendment

    Supreme Court Cases

    1. Near v. Minnesota (1931)
    2. Schenck v. United States (1919)
    3. Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
    4. New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)
    5. Miller v. California (1973)
    6. Engel v. Vitale (1962)
    7. Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
    8. DC v. Heller (2008)
    9. Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
    10. Roe v. Wade (1973)
    11.  Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989)
    12. Gonzales v. Carbart (2007)
    13. Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
    14. Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
    15. Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
    16. Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
    17. Herring v. United States (2008)
    18. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006)
    19. Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018)
    20. Atkins v. Virginia (2002)
    21. Roper v. Simmons (2005)

    See insructor description (above)