Know Your Constitutional Rights

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Know Your Constitutional Rights

And what you can do if they’re violated.

The Big Ones

The First Amendment guarantees:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”


Many view the NSA as one of the largest threats to freedom of speech, particularly when coupled with enforcement measures.

The Second Amendment guarantees:

“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.”

Including protection to:
Self defense
Bear arms for protection and recreation

39 state constitutions, and Supreme Court rulings protect the right to bear arms for self-defense. [9]

The Fourth Amendment guarantees:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Including protection in:
Traffic stops
Police Raids
Racial Profiling

Since 9/11 racial profiling protections have failed, particularly for members of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Communities.[8]

You have a ton of rights, many of which might be at risk:

Personal Security

1. Not to be killed
2. Not to be injured or abused

Personal Liberty

3. To move freely
4. To assemble peaceably
5. To keep and bear arms
6. To assemble in an independent well-disciplined militia
7. To communicate with the world
8. To express of publish one’s opinions
9. To practice one’s religion
10. To be secure in one’s person, house, papers, vehicle, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure
11. To enjoy privacy in all matters in which the rights of others aren’t violated

All of which stand as long as don’t violate the rights of others

Structure of Your Rights:

Bill of Rights = First 12 amendments of the Constitution
…There shall not be less than one hundred Representatives…
…No law, varying the compensation for the services of Senators and Representatives…
…Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…
…A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…
…No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house…
…The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…
…Nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due proves of law…
…The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury…
…The right of trial by jury shall be preserved…
…Nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted…
…Shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people…
…Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited…are reserved to the states…

Rights not provided in the Constitution and not prohibited by states are passed to the states and people.

Don’t stand for discrimination based on:

National Origin
Age (Over 40)
Familial Status
Disability Status
Veteran Status
Genetic Information

But if you are, you have three options:

1.) Informal Negotiations
Party 1: “I forego my right to sue you.”
Party 2: “Here’s some cash.”

2.)Filing a Claim with the Government

Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division
Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

State Level:
Ex: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
3.) Private Lawsuits

Federal or State Court?
It depends on the civil right violated.

Note: some private lawsuits require first filing a claim with the appropriate agency.

The Supreme Court is the last resort and final word on civil rights issues.

Deciding issues on:
Voting Rights
Due Process
Affirmative Action
Women’s Rights
Separation of Powers
Freedom of Speech
Death Penalty
And Many other civil rights related issues.

Some of the Most Famous Civil Rights Cases

1896: Plessy v. Ferguson Upheld Louisiana law requiring public venues to serve African Americans in separate, but ostensibly equal, accommodations.
1950: Sweatt v. Painter Plessy overturned, and segregation of “separate but equal” law and graduate schools for African American students overturned.
1954: Brown v. Board of Education Separate but equal doctrine overturned for educational facilities.
1956: Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision that the segregation of the Montgomery bus system was illegal.
1968: Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. held that the 1866 Civil Rights Act bans racial discrimination in housing by private, and governmental housing providers.
1971: Griggs v. Duke Power Co. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act extended to prohibit intentional job discrimination, as well as employment practices affecting minorities and women.
1974: Lau v. Nichols Title VI of the Civil Rights Act held to mean that “Limited English Proficient” students’ language needs must be accommodated for as their right to federally funded education.
1986: Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education lawful affirmative action programs cannot require that incumbent white workers be discharged to make way for minority workers.
1986: Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson sexual harassment held as unlawful job discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
1987: Johnson v. Transportation Agency gender allowed as a positive factor in an employer’s affirmative action plan.
1991: UAW v. Johnson Controls Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act held to prohibit companies from firing or excluding only women from jobs that may pose reproductive health hazards.
1998:Bragdon v. Abbot the first American’s with Disabilities Act case to make it to the court held that HIV-positive individuals are protected under the ADA.
2013Windsor v. United States Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act struck down, allowing same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage.

Don’t let the long line of civil rights defenders end with you. Report civil rights violations.





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