Online College Courses for Credit

Civil Liberties and Due Process

Civil Liberties and Due Process

Author: Anna O'Neil

Students will understand civil liberties a United States citizen is entitled to and recognize how they have changed over time.

This packet explores the idea of Civil Liberties, or the freedoms accorded to U.S. citizens to live without interference from government. These freedoms are accorded by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and various court cases. Individuals are generally able to seek their own happiness as they see fit provided they don't infringe on the rights of others.  However, government can limit this freedom.  Government has the obligation to promote the general welfare, safety and even morals of society.  To ensure that society can achieve these goals, government can conduct searches and, arrest and punish people.  But these police powers are also limited, by individual freedoms.  This balancing act of individual freedoms versus government protection of the welfare of society  will be highlighted in this packet as well

See More

Lets start...

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.

Any one who has come across an episode of Law and Order, would readily recognize this statement.  This is known as the Miranda Warning.  It details civil liberties a person is entitled to if police are placing them under arrest.  The Miranda Warning includes examples of civil liberties, such as the freedom from self-incrimination  and the right to an adequate defense, or lawyer,  Fortunately, U.S. citizens are entitled to more.

Civil liberties concern basic rights and freedoms that are guaranteed -- either explicitly identified in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, or interpreted through the years by courts and lawmakers. Civil liberties include:

  • Freedom of speech

  • The right to privacy

  • The right to be free from unreasonable searches of your home or auto

  • Freedom from unreasonable searches of yourself

  • The right to a fair and speedy court trial

  • The right to marry

  • The right to vote

  • Freedom from slavery or forced labor

  • Freedom from cruel or unusual punishment

  • Freedom from incriminating oneself

U.S. citizens are GENERALLY entitled to these liberties.  However, a constant balancing act occurs because the government also has an obligation to do the following, that may limit civil liberties:

  • Promote the general welfare of its citizens
  • ensure the safety of citizens
  • promote morals in society

Some examples of how the government may limit individual freedom include:

  • If there is a reasonable belief someone has committed a crime, police can obtain warrants to search people and property.
  • Government allows employers to conduct drug testing on employees.
  • Labor can be forced in the case of a military draft

Again these are just some examples of civil liberties and government protection.  For a great example of civil liberties and the obligation to protect the safety of students, please see the videos below.



Source: Findlaw

Addictive SIMS game and educational too!

Check out this fun SIMS game by Icivics to learn more about the Civil liberties and Rights - as well as the constitutional amendments associated with them.


Guide to civil liberties please use the + and - buttons below to zoom in for a closer look.

This sheet outlines the concept of civil liberties. At the top, the main idea. Essential details within. And at the end, consider the point as to why civil liberties are so important!


Source: MacGruder's American Government, 2000

Savana Redding Civil Liberties Case

This video describes Safford Unified School District versus Redding. A recent and prominent civil liberties court case where a young girl was stripped searched by school officials who were searching for ibuporfen pills. Another student had claimed Savana had them. Her case called into question basic constitutional freedoms for students.

How do you think the Supreme Court should have rules on this case?

See the video below for the results.

Source: Savana Redding's strip search case goes to supreme court CBS News Online

The Supreme Court Decision of the Savana Redding Case

The conclusion of the Savana Redding case.

Source: CBS News

Click on this link to view my web poster for more info about Due Process and Civil Liberties