Bill the most basic liberties: freedom of religion, speech,

Bill of Rights OverallOf the first ten amendments, the First Amendment is the most important part of the Bill of Rights. It protects five of the most basic liberties: freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and freedom to petition the government to correct wrongdoings. The Antifederalists missed these guarantees the most in the new Constitution. If these rights did not exist, America would not be known as “the land of the free.” Without a doubt, each amendment in the Bill of Rights holds much significance and creates a strong foundation to the Constitution. However, the absence of any of the other nine amendments would not have as big of an impact compared to the First Amendment. The Bill of Rights couldn’t list every single right. To cover all the individual rights not listed, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments were added. The Ninth Amendment states that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not define all of the fundamental rights people have. The Tenth Amendment makes a similar claim concerning states’ rights. It explains that the states have powers that are set aside from the federal government. These powers are called “reserved powers.” Therefore, both of these amendments are needed to guarantee rights and powers not listed in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.First AmendmentAfter reading the Texas v. Johnson case, I have concluded that burning a flag is a protected form of speech; therefore, I agree with the court’s ruling. I believe this because: the government may not prohibit expression simply because society finds the ideas offensive, Johnson’s actions did not incite violence or disrupt the peace, the Supreme Court has long recognized that speech can be more that the spoken or written word. Actions are symbolic speech when one intends to convey a particular message and there is a great likelihood that those watching would understand the message. While it is important for the government to preserve the flag as a symbol, it is more important to ensure Americans’ rights to protest when they disagree with the government.When intertwining religion and schools, I believe that there should not be any religious views forced or encouraged among students. Furthermore, there should be no rules inhibiting a certain religion. I believe that optional engagement in religious activity at school should be allowed. For example, religious clubs or reflection rooms to pray in during the day.When regarding dress codes and uniforms in school, I believe they should not be allowed. School uniforms and dress codes restrict students’ freedom of expression. The First Amendment guarantees that all individuals have the right to express themselves freely, and clothing choices are a big part of self-expression. School uniforms also promote conformity over individuality; therefore, uniforms sometimes go too far. Although, some dress codes are sometimes necessary for a better functioning school community. According to the Minnetonka article, attire shouldn’t disrupt education, be offensive, or inappropriate.Fourth AmendmentWhen regarding privacy rights for students in schools, I think there are certain things the school should be able to control and regulate. First, I think schools should be able to check student’s lockers for other’s safety. Schools are private property and things like weapons/drugs aren’t allowed on school property; therefore, schools should have the right to check lockers and this needs to be taken seriously. Second, schools should be able to carry out random drug testing. It’s illegal for minors to do drugs, and if someone is caught doing drugs at a young age, actions can be taken towards a better future. Third, according to the Owasso ISD v. Falvo case, FERPA defines “educational records” as records that personally identify a student. Educational records are meant to refer to administrative personal records maintained by the schools. A student grading another student’s paper is not acting on behalf of the educational agency.  Furthermore, just because a student knows the grade of another does not mean the information has been “released.”  The grading student had no part in “maintaining the record,” just reviewed the work. As a student, though, I believe that students should not have to share any of their work if they want to keep it private, even if it’s not protected under FERPA.Eighth AmendmentThe NPR Article discussed whether last-minute death penalty delays are cruel and unusual punishment and how America’s death penalty is under scrutiny after a series of drug mix-ups and difficulty acquiring legal injection drugs. Specifically, about a man named Richard Glossip, whose execution was delayed twice due to drug mix-ups. Personally, I believe the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment when your sentencing is not proportioned correctly with the crime committed, and when delays are set, because it has a “tremendous emotional and psychological toll on an individual,” according to John Blume, a Cornell law professor. Another case of cruel and unusual punishment comes from torture; for example, methods like an electric chair. The death penalty puts innocent lives at risk, as well. Millions of dollars a year are set aside for the death penalty. Therefore, I think the United States should not allow the death penalty in situations that don’t follow the criteria listed, and allow it in the situations that do. There are also very little benefits to the death penalty.Optional CaseIn Santa Fe v. Doe, the Supreme Court ruled (6-3) that a Texas school board policy that allowed “student-led, student-initiated prayer” before varsity high-school football games was a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which prohibits the government from making any law respecting an establishment of religion. I agree with this ruling for multiple reasons: the school district’s hands-off approach is unrealistic. They would be responsible for religious speech because they schedule the school-sponsored events, control the pre-game ceremonies, and provide the public address system. Also, the policy doesn’t pass the Lemon Test: the students would feel pressured to participate in this religious exercise, and it doesn’t relieve the school from excessive entanglement with religion.


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