Civil Liberties Questions for Monday, Feb. 28 & Monday, March 6

note: answer 1st question in 1-page/less essay Due Monday, Feb. 28

question 1: sixth amendment & legal counsel

Gideon v. Wainwright, one of the most celebrated Supreme Court decisions of the 20th Century, required legal counsel to be provided indigent defendants. The legacy of the decision is discussed in this Emmy-winning segment from HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” with comedian John Oliver, on public defenders and the treatment of indigent defendants.

Do you agree, after watching this, that the public defender system is “broken?” If so, who do you think is most to blame for the broken state of the system? Do you think it could be reformed? Look online, and see if you can find at least two examples of organizations or politicians who want to reform the system, and see what they say.

also answer one of the following two QUESTIONS (2 & 3), Also for Monday, Feb. 28

question 2: 1st amendment and religious freedom

Examine the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. What First Amendment rights protections were at issue here? What was most controversial about this case, if anything? What might one or two specialists in Constitutional law say are ramifications of the case?

Am I A Person? Supreme Court Says: I Can Have Beliefs, As A Company

Question 3: Fifth Amendment rights

In the video, a reference is made to “Miranda” rights. How did Miranda v. Arizona change the way law enforcement treated criminal defendants? And how has the Supreme Court tinkered with these rights over time?

for the future...

Assignments for March 6, answer one of two:

Assignment 1

Listen to this podcast of "More Perfect," a podcast from NPR's Radiolab show, about how plaintiffs in some recent, major civil liberties cases were chosen. The podcast will give you some insight into how judicial review works, how it's still a bit of an odd duck, really, and why justice is rarely fast in coming. Do you think having attorneys and interest groups seeking out such plaintiffs is worrisome? Or is that just the way things are, or even should be? Make your case.

assignment 2

Now for your final assignment: Find me the basic facts of a major civil liberties case that has either gone before the Supreme Court case over the past year, or is set to be heard in 2017. Tell me: What rights or set of constitutional rights did or does the case involve? If it was already decided, what was the vote in the Supreme Court? What logic did the Court majority use to make its decision?

A good place to go to look up information on Supreme Court cases is the excellent SCOTUSBLOG. You will have to look for cases on your right. Look at "Major Cases" and "Upcoming Petitions." There are usually lists kept by several news sites online about Court cases, and I invite you to look for them, but I would start with the link just listed.

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