Week 4 discussion | American history homework help


Week 4 Objectives: Now that we have learned about the formation of the U.S. Constitution, the three branches of the federal government, and the Bill of Rights, in Week 4, we will learn more about the U.S. Supreme Court. We will focus most of our attention its landmark decisions that protect our rights to free speech and privacy.



Post a total of three substantive responses each week. A substantive reply is:

  • A minimum of 175 words.
  • Notes facts from the materials in the Learning Activities folder with references and citations.
  • Includes your thoughts about those facts.
  • Includes references in APA 7 format.
  • Be nice and don’t talk politics – we’re all on the same side here.
  • Your first post is due Thursday and should be a stand-alone post that starts a discussion thread.
  • Then between Tuesday and Monday, reply at least once to any instructor post and reply at least once to another classmate. 



Choose one topic for your initial main post and then select a different topic for your reply message to a classmate. Your reply to one of my posts can be on any topic (so my response to your initial post or my response to any other classmates’ initial post).

Topic One: Interpreting the Bill of Rights: In Week 2, we discussed the powers of the U.S. Supreme Court, including how it uses judicial review to sustain the constitutional doctrine. It can do this because our legal system is based upon the English Common Law System which means legal doctrine is interpreted by what came before it; this too keeps the courts from straying from their duties/powers and their adherence to constitutional doctrine. Specifically, this practice is known as stare decisis, Latin for “to stand by that which is decided.” Thus, judicial review is meant to ensure that the U.S. Supreme Court ensures that the government behaves constitutionally.  After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 4 Learning Activities Folder, consider the following:

  • How does our common law system and judicial review protect the people or not from government abuse?
  • How does the U.S. Supreme Court interpret the U.S. Bill of Rights?
  • What is your opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s power to interpret the U.S. Bill of Rights? 
  • How does the Fourteenth Amendment expand our civil rights protections / how has it affected the interpretation of the U.S. Bill of Rights?
  • According to the Fourteenth Amendment, who gets protection under the U.S. Constitution and who does not? Consider the issue of international terrorists and illegal immigrants.

Topic Two: The First Amendment: The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.” The First Amendment was designed to install additional checks and balances on governmental power by fostering a marketplace of ideas. An open, free exchange of ideas is necessary to the survival of representative democracy because it can promote peace and stability among diverse groups of people. After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 4 Learning Activities Folder, consider the following:

  • Of the freedoms granted by the First Amendment, discuss which one is most important to you and why?
  • Does the First Amendment limit government or you?
  • Can you think of examples of when there should or could be limits to the First Amendment?
  • Are limits necessary and why or why not? For example, hate speech is constitutional, why is that?

Topic Three: Criminal Protections in the Bill of Rights: The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments protect the rights of suspected or accused persons, criminal defendants, and convicted criminals. The U.S. Supreme Court has applied these protections to state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment. After reviewing the materials in the Learning Activities folder, consider how the 4th Amendment preventing warrantless searches has routinely been limited over time adjusting for new facets of the law (e.g., DNA, civil asset forfeiture), and even more so in light of national security concerns (e.g., the Patriot Act, the Freedom Act, FISA wiretapping warrants). After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 4 Learning Activities Folder, consider the following:

  • What is the state of the Fourth Amendment today? 
  • What is the relationship between the Fourth Amendment and the right to privacy?
  • Does it still protect us from government abuses as the Founders intended?

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