DOC

A Study of the First Amendment Rights in the Bill of Rights

By Randy Carpenter,2014-07-26 14:30
9 views 0
A Study of the First Amendment Rights in the Bill of Rights

    A Study of the First Amendment Rights in the Bill of Rights

Kathryn Orler

    Fort Smith, Arkansas

    89062

    ABSTRACT: This lesson plan is to focus on the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. The following activities are designed to help students become aware of the basic liberties of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition through study of Supreme Court cases.

AUDIENCE: Upper elementary

TOPIC I: FREEDOM OF SPEECH

TIME TO COMPLETE: Two class periods

    RATIONALE: To familiarize students with the basic liberties of the Constitution as protected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

    GOAL: To demonstrate an understanding of freedom of speech through a study of an actual Supreme Court case.

MATERIALS:

    1. A copy of the Bill of Rights for each student.

    2. A summary of Tinker v. Des Moines for each student.

    3. Materials to construct a bulletin board entitled: THE FIRST AMENDMENT GUARANTEES:

    PROCEDURE:

    1. Distribute a copy of the Bill of Rights to each student. 2. Students will read the First Amendment.

    3. Identify what rights the First Amendment protects.

    4. Hand out summary of Tinker v. Des Moines.

    5. Students will read and discuss Tinker v. Des Moines and how the First Amendment was interpreted to decide the case.

    EVALUATION:

    1. What is the major conflict in Tinker v. Des Moines?

    2. What is the legal issue in this case?

    3. What Constitutional issue is raised in this case?

    4. If you were to rule on this case, what would your decision be? Explain your decision.

TOPIC II: FREEDOM OF RELIGION

    TIME TO COMPLETE: Two class periods

    RATIONALE: To familiarize students with the basic liberties of the Constitution as protected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

    GOAL: To demonstrate an understanding of freedom of religion through a study of an actual Supreme Court case.

    MATERIALS:

    1. A copy of the Bill of Rights for each student.

    2. A summary of McCollum v. Board of Education for each student. PROCEDURE:

    1. Students will read the First Amendment.

    2. Students will review and list the specific guarantees it

    contains. 3. Hand out summary of McCollum v. Board of Education. 4. Students will read and discuss McCollum v. Board of Education, and how the First Amendment was interpreted to decide the case.

    EVALUATION:

    1. What are the important facts in McCollum v. Board of Education? 2. What are the ethical issues?

    3. How might your life be different if you did not have freedom of religion? 4. What impact does McCollum v. Board of Education have on your school? TOPIC III: FREEDOM OF PRESS

    TIME TO COMPLETE: Two class periods

    RATIONALE: To familiarize students with the basic liberties of the Constitution as protected in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

    GOAL: To demonstrate an understanding of freedom of press through a study of an actual Supreme Court case.

    MATERIALS: A copy of Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart for each student. PROCEDURE:

    1. Identify and review what the First Amendment protects.

    2. Hand out the summary of Nebraska Press v. Stuart.

    3. Students will read and discuss Nebraska Press v. Stuart and how the First Amendment was interpreted to decide the case.

EVALUATION:

    1. What was the major issue in the Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart case? 2. Why is this section of the First Amendment important to you? 3. What would our news be like without freedom of the press?

    TIPS FROM THE TEACHER:

    1. Hand out newspapers and have students check for examples of freedom of press. 2. Research other cases on freedom of press. Examples: Landmark Communications v. Commonwealth of Virginia, Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia 3. Have students study and draw a political cartoon.

    4. Add FREEDOM OF PRESS on the bulletin board.

    TOPIC IV: FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND PETITION

    TIME TO COMPLETE: Two class periods

    RATIONALE: To familiarize students with the basic liberties of the Constitution as protected by the Bill of Rights.

    GOAL: To demonstrate an understanding of freedom of assembly and petition. MATERIALS: A summary of Coates v. Cincinnati for each student.

    PROCEDURE:

    1. Review the First Amendment.

    2. Define freedom of assembly and petition.

    3. Hand out summary of Coates v. Cincinnati.

    4. Students will read and discuss Coates v. Cincinnati, and how the First Amendment was interpreted to decide this case.

    EVALUATION:

    1. What are the significant facts in this case?

    2. What is the primary issue to be determined?

    3. How does the First Amendment protect this issue?

    4. Do you agree on the decision made? Explain.

    TIPS FROM THE TEACHER:

    1. Present the students with a hypothetical case. Divide the students into three teams. Two teams will decide relevant facts in the case and debate. The third team will listen to the debates and rule on the case. The third team will state the Constitutional reasoning in the decision.

    2. Ten minutes before students go out for recess, the teacher will state a new classroom rule that the students will disagree with, but will be required to follow without discussion. During the recess, their freedom of assembly will be denied in that

no more than two people can meet together on the playground.

    When the students return from recess, ask the following questions: A. How do you feel about the new classroom rule?

    B. How did you feel about not being able to meet with your classmates at recess and discuss the new rule?

    C. How can a power control a group by denying it the freedom of assembly and petition? D. How are the rights of people protected by freedom of assembly and petition? Research other cases on freedom of assembly and petition. Examples: DeJonge v. Oregon

    Poulos v. New Hampshire Adderly v. Florida Schneider v. Irvington

    4. Activity Sheet

    Write the basic right guaranteed by the First Amendment that applies to each situation. A. You want to organize a public meeting to change a zoning restriction in your town. (Assembly and Petition)

    B. You write a letter to the editor disagreeing with a city policy. (Speech) C. The newspaper in your town prints information given in a local trial. (Press) D. You decide how you spend your Sunday mornings. (Religion)

    5. Add FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND PETITION on the bulletin board. Place examples under it.

    Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District 393 U.S. 503, 89 S. Ct. 733 (1969)

    FACTS: In December of 1965, some adults and students decided to demonstrate their opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict by wearing black armbands during the holiday season and by fasting on December 16 and on New Year's Eve. The principals of schools in Des Moines, Iowa heard of the plan and adopted a policy forbidding the wearing of armbands to school. Students who refused to remove such armbands would be suspended from school until they complied with the rule. Sixteen-year-old John and thirteen-year-old Mary Beth Tinker, along with another student, wore the armbands to school with full knowledge of the regulation. They were suspended and did not return to school until after New Year's Day, the end of the planned period for wearing the armbands.

    ISSUES: Is the wearing of a black armband as a political protest a form of speech protected by the First Amendment, and do school authorities violate students' constitutional rights by prohibiting such speech?

    DECISION: Yes; a regulation prohibiting the wearing of armbands to school upon penalty of suspension is an unconstitutional denial of students' rights to free speech. REASONING: Wearing an armband as a political protest is a symbolic act and therefore a form of "pure speech." The speech or expression is "pure" because it is not accompanied by disruptive conduct. This was a "silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance on the part of petitioners." The regulation amounted to prohibiting a discussion of the Vietnam conflict in the hallway. Even though a few students made hostile remarks outside of class to the students wearing armbands, there were no threats or acts of violence on school premises. Without evidence that a prohibition of expression is necessary to avoid "material and substantial interference with school work or discipline," it is not constitutionally permissible. Two dissenting justices would have upheld the school regulation in support of the need to maintain discipline and good order in the schools.

McCullough v. Maryland 4 WHEAT 316, 4 L. Ed. 579 (1819)

    FACTS: A Maryland statute prohibited any bank operating in the State without State authority from issuing bank notes except upon stamped paper issued by the State. The law specifies the fees payable for the paper, and provides for penalties for violators. An Act of Congress established a U. S. Bank. McCullough, the U.S. Bank's cashier for its Baltimore branch, issued bank notes without complying with the Maryland law. ISSUE: (1) Does Congress have the power to incorporate a bank? (2) Does a State have the power to impose fees on the operation of an institution created by Congress pursuant to its constitutional powers?

    DECISION: (1) Yes. It's true that this government is one of enumerated powers. However, the Constitution does not exclude incidental or implied powers. It does not require that everything be granted expressly and minutely described. To have so required would have entirely changed the character of the Constitution and made it into a legal code. The enumerated power given to the government imply the ordinary means of execution. The power of creating a corporation may be implied as incidental to other powers, or used as a means of executing them. The Necessary and Proper Clause gives Congress the power to make "all laws which shall be necessary and proper, for carrying into execution" the powers vested by the Constitution in the U.S. Government. Maryland argues that the word "necessary" limits the right to pass laws for the execution of the granted powers to those which are indispensable. However, in common usage "necessary" frequently means convenient, useful, essential. Considering the word's common usage, its usage in another part of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 10), and its inclusion among the powers given to Congress, rather than among the limitations upon Congress, it cannot be held to restrain Congress. The sound construction of the Constitution must allow Congress the discretion to choose the means to perform the duties imposed upon it. As long as the end is legitimate and within the scope of the Constitution, any means which are appropriate, are plainly adapted to that end, and which are not prohibited by the Constitution, but are consistent with its spirit, are constitutional. A bank is a convenient, useful, and essential instrument for handling national finances. Hence, it is within Congress's power to enact a law incorporating a U. S. bank.

    (2) No. The Federal Constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are supreme. They control the Constitutions and laws of the States and cannot be controlled by them. Maryland is incorrect in its contention that the powers of the federal government are delegated by the States who alone are truly sovereign. The Constitution derives its authority from the people, not from the States. Here, Maryland's statute in effect taxes the operation of the U.S. Bank, a bank properly created within Congress's power. The power to tax involves the power to destroy. Here it is in opposition to the supreme congressional power to create a bank. Also, when a State taxes an organization created by the U.S. Government, it acts upon an institution created by people over whom it claims no control. The States have no power, by taxation or otherwise, to impede,

burden, or in any manner control the operations of constitutional laws enacted by

Congress. The Maryland statute is, therefore, unconstitutional and void.

Nebraska Press Assoc. v. Stuart 427 U S 539. 96 Sup. Ct 2791 (1976)

    FACTS: Simants was arrested for the brutal murder of a Nebraska family. Due to the extensive news coverage, his attorney moved to preclude reporting on certain salient aspects of the trial. The district court issued the order, and the Nebraska Press Association sought leave to intervene, contending the restrictions constituted prior restraint and were unconstitutional. The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the order in a modified form, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari.

    ISSUE: Is prior restraint available only in the absence of other less inhibiting methods of ensuring a fair trial?

    DECISION: Yes. Prior restraint on freedom of the press may be used only where less inhibiting measures to protect the right to a fair trial are unavailable. In this case no evidence appears in the record indicating that other measures were considered which may have been less inhibiting on freedom of the press. In the absence of finding on this issue, an order calling for prior restraint cannot stand. Reversed.

    Prior Restraint: any prohibition on the publication or communication of information prior to such publication or communication. Under the First Amendment guarantees of the right to free speech and press, prior restraints are subject to strict scrutiny and bear a heavy presumption against constitutional validity.

Coates v. Cincinnati 402 U.S. 611, 91 S.Ct. 1686, 29 L.Ed. 2d 214

    FACTS: Coates was convicted of violating an ordinance of the City of Cincinnati, which made it a criminal offense for "three or more persons to assemble ... on any of the sidewalks ... and there conduct themselves in a manner annoying to persons passing by ..." At the time of his conviction Coates was a student involved in a demonstration and it is his contention that the ordinance on its face violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution.

    ISSUE: Is an ordinance which makes a crime out of conduct which may be lawful and constitutionally protected void as being vague and overbroad?

    DECISION: Yes. An ordinance is unconstitutionally vague where it subjects the exercise of the right of assembly to an unascertainable standard and is unconstitutionally broad where it authorizes the punishment of constitutionally protected conduct. Due process requires that every law be narrowly drafted to avoid any "chilling effect" on the exercise of other rights. The ordinance here fails in this regard since the very purpose of such constitutionally protected speech is to create an effect which adversaries will inevitably find annoying. It is well established, however, that "mere public intolerance or animosity cannot be the basis for abridgment of ... constitutional freedoms"

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email
cust-service@docsford.com