Constitutional Issues

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Constitutional Issues

  • Here are the three topics to choose from for your CBA Project. Please take notes as we go. You will eventually be choosing one of these issues to explore in your essay.


  • Amendments to the Constitution grant citizens rights that are supposed to be beneficial to the common good of society as well as to the individual.
  • Sometimes however, these rights are called into question and people can disagree on the interpretation of the amendments.

Overview Cont.

  • Remember, most of the amendments to the Constitution were written before the 1900’s.
  • Times have changed but the document has not!
  • This assignment will force you to ask yourself, ”is that Constitutional?” which is just what the Supreme Court Justices have to ask themselves every day!

Freedom of Speech in Schools

The First Amendment

  • “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…”

Important Term to Know

  • In Loco Parentis
  • This term gives schools the rights to act in place of a parent, assuming care and custody of a child as a parent would.

At issue today:

  • Is not whether there should be or should not be free speech BUT to what degree should free speech be allowed?
  • Students do not have the same rights as adults.
  • However, the Supreme Court has ruled that students and teachers do not “…shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”.
      • Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969)

At issue today:

  • Do you have a right to say whatever you want in school?
  • How do schools balance students use of social networking sites and its infringement on the student as a whole?
  • Does the school have a right to punish you for what you say online about a district employee or another student?

Two sides to every issue:

  • Pro-Freedom of Speech in Schools =
    • Students should be able to express themselves freely in school or online
  • Anti-Freedom of Speech in Schools =

Pro-Freedom of Speech in Schools

  • People who want Freedom of Speech in schools believe:
    • It is a student’s right to voice opinions whenever and wherever he or she chooses.

Anti-Freedom of Speech in Schools

  • People who want to limit Freedom of Speech in schools believe:
    • Putting limitations on Freedom of Speech in schools and online will help prevent fighting, and bullying among the student body
    • Fewer students would be unhappy, depressed or suicidal as a result of cyber-bullying

The Death Penalty

The 8th Amendment

  • “…nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

At issue today:

  • Is the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment?
  • Are certain methods of execution more “humane” than others?
  • Are victim rights more important than criminal rights?
  • Does the government have the right to kill?

Two sides to every issue:

  • Pro-Death Penalty =
    • Executions are not ‘cruel’ or ‘unusual’
  • Anti-Death Penalty =
    • Executions go against 8th Amendment because they are “cruel and unusual”

Pro-Death Penalty:

  • People who are Pro Death penalty believe
    • In the ‘eye for an eye’ defense
    • Do not believe that the death penalty is ‘cruel’ or ‘unusual’
    • Believe that the good of the people (or victim) outweighs the rights of the accused

Anti-Death Penalty

  • People who do not believe in the death penalty believe:
    • The government does not have a right to put citizens to death
    • Executions ARE cruel and unusual and therefore Unconstitutional
    • Since DNA evidence is not always available, sometimes innocent people may be put to death for a crime they didn’t commit
    • The sentence to death is not given on an equal basis.

Gun Control

2nd Amendment

  • “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

At issue today:

  • Was it the intention of the Framers to give ALL citizens the right to own ANY weapon?
  • Should we have stricter gun control laws?
  • Do gun control laws prevent crime?
  • Why does the United States have so many more deaths by gun shot than any other industrialized nation?

Two sides to every issue:

  • Pro Gun Control = Some government restrictions on access to guns
    • Major organization in support:
      • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
      • Brady Bill
  • Anti Gun Control = No government involvement in individual ownership of guns
    • Major Organization in support:
      • National Rifle Association (NRA)

Anti-gun control supporters

  • People who are pro-gun believe:
    • Laws will not stop criminals
    • Gun control does not help control crime
    • Good citizens need to fight back against bad citizens and should be allowed that protection
    • Guns are crucial to oneself against violent dictators or tyrannical groups (in or outside the US)

Pro-gun control supporters

  • People who are for Gun Control believe:
    • 2nd Amendment does not say anything about individuals owning guns – only state militias
    • It was not meant as a ‘gun license’ for all people
    • Right to own a gun is nowhere in Constitution
    • Something needs to be done about the hundreds of thousands of gun-related crimes each year
    • Laws could be passed to curb the violence and deaths caused by guns


  • Make a Difference!

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