Civil Liberties are Constitutional Protections Against the Government

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We know people support rights in theory but their support may waiver when it comes time to put those rights into practice. Civil liberties are legal constitutional protections against the government, and basically, tell the government what it cannot do. Judicial interpretations shape the nature of civil liberties, and as these interpretations change over time, so do our rights. To understand the civil liberties and freedoms we have, and how they have changed, we must examine several key Supreme Court decisions. One of the most common controversies addressed by the court is should the Bill of Rights apply to state governments. In 1833 in Barron v. Baltimore, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights only applies to the national government and does not include protections against state governments. Barron sought redress under the just compensation clause of the Fifth Amendment. Justice John Marshall said the United States Constitution cannot be applied to state laws. This ruling was a major boost for states’ rights. (pg. A107-111) The Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868 states that anyone born or naturalized in the United States are considered citizens. With the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court begin to apply the Bill of Rights to the states. States were no longer allowed to pass laws that violated the civil liberties of United States as laid out in the Bill of Rights. (pg. 81) Due process is a clause present in the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights and is reiterated in Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The fact that it is mentioned twice in the Constitution speaks to its importance. Due process upholds the standard that guilt must be proven and not merely assumed. Overtime most libertie... ... middle of paper ... ...ific charge. Can only be suspended in times of emergency such as war or rebellion. Bills of attainders are laws that declares someone is guilty of a crime, usually treason, without giving that person the right to a trial. An ex post facto law declares an act to be a crime after it has been committed. These types of laws are forbidden under the constitution. (pg. 77) Today, we take such freedoms as the right to privacy and freedom of speech for granted. Our freedoms are not absolute, without limitations. Thus, when it comes to these freedoms, it is up to the Supreme Court to determine what the government can and cannot regulate. Because courts continually rule on what actions are constitutional and what is not, judicial interpretation shapes the nature of civil liberties. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Voltaire)
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