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Civil liberties of the United States are certain inalienable rights retained by (as opposed to privileges granted to) citizens of the United States under the Constitution of the United States, as interpreted and clarified by the Supreme Court of the United States and lower federal courts.[1] Civil liberties can be simply defined as individual legal and constitutional protections against the government. The civil liberties that are spelled out in the Constitution are those such as, the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right of regulated search and seizure, and so on. These amendments make up the Bill of Rights. There are also many liberties of people that are not stated in the Constitution, as stated in the 9th Amendment. Civil liberties organizations such as the ACLU lobby for the protection of civil liberties, particularly free speech.

Contents

Freedom of speech

Main article: Freedom of speech in the United States

Freedom of speech, protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, allows people the freedom to express themselves and enjoy the expressions of others without the interference of the government. It states that, Congress can not make laws that interfere with religion, the freedom of speech, press, assemble, or petition.[2] Proponents say freedom of speech also promotes political discourse necessary for a healthy and engaged electorate.

Students are guaranteed certain rights of expression in public schools even when the government asserts its interest in keeping the peace. (Tinker v. Des Moines). Manner of dress is a form of expression (ibid.).

Although corporations are not people, in the United States, they too possess the same rights to free speech as an individual person.

Freedom of speech in the U.S. follows a graduated system, with different types of regulations subject to different levels of scrutiny in court challenges based on the First Amendment, often depending on the type of speech.

Right to bear arms

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is assured by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The United States Supreme Court has upheld that "[t]he Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home" -District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (2008).[3]

This civil liberty can be approached philosophically as well as lawfully. What does the word "arms" exactly mean? What does the word "bear" mean in this specific statement? The word "bear" means, to carry, or to hold. The word "arms" means, weapons, or firearms, specifically. When these words are used together, "bear arms" could most likely be interpreted by some, as an excuse to carry firearms outside of one's home. The topic of whether firearms were or were not able to be carried outside the home was not addressed in the District of Columbia v. Heller court case.

"The lawyer who won the Columbia v Heller court case to allow residents to keep handguns in their homes is now fighting to allow residents and visitors to carry their weapons in public." [4] Even though it is legal to carry a concealed firearm in other states, does not mean that it is legal to carry that firearm in the District of Columbia. The laws in the District are different, mainly because of the fact that there are so many government buildings.

Sexual freedom

Sexual freedoms include the freedom to have an abortion (Roe v. Wade) and the freedom to have private consensual homosexual sex (Lawrence v. Texas).

Equal protection

Main article: Equal Protection Clause

Equal protection prevents the government from creating laws that are discriminatory in application or effect.

See also

References

1. Absolute Astronomy. "Freedom of Speech." Civil Liberties in the United States. Absolute Astronomy, 2009. Web. 29 Sept. 2009. <http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Civil_liberties_of_the_United_States>.

2. Alexander, Keith L. "Lawsuit Seeks Right to Carry Concealed Weapons in the District." Www.washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2009. Web. 29 Sept. 2009. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/07/AR2009080702997.html>.

3. American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU.org. n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <http://www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/index.html>.

4. FindLaw. "First Amendment - Religion and Expression." FindLaw for Legal Professionals. FindLaw, 2009. Web. 29 Sept. 2009. <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/>.

5. Gordon, Jesse. "Civil Liberties vs. Civil Rights." OnTheIssues.org. Ed. Jesse Gordon. Jesse Gordon, 3 Aug. 2000. Web. 29 Sept. 2009. <http://www.ontheissues.org/askme/civil_liberties.htm>.

6. Scalia, Antonin. "District of Columbia v. Heller." Oyez.org. The US Supreme Court Media, June 2008. Web. 29 Sept. 2009. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2007/2007_07_290/>.








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