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Civil Liberties - Bill of Rights  

Last Updated: Jan 24, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Getting Started Print Page

Bill of Rights

Click on the image for a transcript of the Bill of Rights.


    Bill of Rights Freedoms

    • Freedon of speech, press, religion, and petition
    • Right to keep and bear arms
    • Conditions for quartering of soldiers
    • Right of search and seizure regulated
    • Providions concerning prosecution
    • Right to a speedy trial, witnesses
    • Right to a trial by jury
    • Excessive bail, cruel punishment
    • Rule of construction of the Constitution
    • Rights of the states under the Constitution


      Rights of Citizens

      When crafting the Constitution, lawmakers were very concerned about any document that would give the government absolute rule over its people. The Bill of Rights was created as a result of that fear. It spells out specific immunities of individual citizens. The result of this debate was the ratificatin of articles 3-12 which are the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.


        Civil Liberty Example

        Missouri v. McNeely

        The  U.S. Supreme Court just heard oral arguments for this case.  What is in question is whether or not a police officer (exigent circumstances) can obtain a blood sample from an individual suspected of driving while intoxicated without a warrant or the driver's consent. Mr. McNeely was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, taken to a hospital and blood was forcibly drawn from him without his consent and without a warrant. It is contended that this was a violation of his 4th Amendment rights.

        Civil Liberties vs. Civil Rights

        "What is the difference between a liberty and a right? Both words appear in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. The distinction between the two has always been blurred, and today the concepts are often used interchangeably. However, they do refer to different kinds of guaranteed protections.

        Civil liberties are protections against government actions. For example, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights guarantees citizens the right to practice whatever religion they please. Government, then, cannot interfere in an individual's freedom of worship. Amendment I gives the individual "liberty" from the actions of the government.

        Civil rights, in contrast, refer to positive actions of government should take to create equal conditions for all Americans. The term "civil rights" is often associated with the protection of minority groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and women. The government counterbalances the "majority rule" tendency in a democracy that often finds minorities outvoted."


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