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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:
DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS
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:
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:
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:
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