Order Code: IIC125DV   
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The concern of the Framers of the Constitution for civil liberties is evident in the adoption of the Bill of Rights. First Amendment freedoms are among the most valuable in the Constitution. Fredom of speech and press are indispensable to the operation of democratic republican government. American courts increasingly protected these rights throughout the 20th century. Not only have the tests of these rights—especially those involving expressions of opinion once thought to threaten national security—become more liberal, but the Court has progressively applied the Bill of Rights not only to the national government but also to the states. The Court has formulated special tests to govern the areas of obscenity, libel, and hate speech.

Learning objectives:

  • Identify the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Appreciate the wide range of freedoms that are guaranteed to American citizens while recognizing that few, if any such rights, are absolute.
  • Understand the central principles that the Supreme Court applies to speech involving potential threats to national security, printed criticisms of governmental officials, obscenity, and symbolic speech.
  • Describe the manner in which the U.S. Supreme Court has applied most of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights to state and local governments as well as to the national government.
  • Explain some of the tensions that sometimes arise between the establishment clause and the free exercise clause.
  • Understand how the Court developed and applied the right to privacy to areas like birth control and abortion while not extending the right to other areas like the right to die.
  • Explain the Supreme Court’s reasoning in striking down provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
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This title is part of the series: FRAMEWORK FOR DEMOCRACY




10 and up


Color and black-and-white

Run Time

26 minutes