The constitution gives people a lot of rights and civil liberties. However, just because they are written in the constitution that does not mean that these rights and civil liberties are not challenged. More often than not there are arguments on both sides in each specific case; Moreover, the debate is especially heated when the civil liberties being tried are being used to defend controversial subjects. Civil liberties are also being constantly adapted as part of the system of democracy. There are court cases being heard right now that will affect your civil liberties in the future. When deciding each case, judges must refer back to the constitution and past court cases. Presented in this essay are three court cases that have challenged the American civil liberties outlined in the constitution.
The first legal case that has challenged an American civil liberty is the case of a Chicago police officer having an offensive bumper sticker that read “All lives splatter. Nobody cares about your protest.” with an image of protesters being run over by a car. On top of this, the officer also had racist and Islamophobic posts on his Facebook account. As a result of the officer’s offensive bumper sticker and racist Facebook posts, he was suspended from his duties within the Chicago police department. In this case, the police department’s decision to suspend the officer is a fair and justified ruling. The first reason why the police department’s ruling to suspend the officer is justified is that it is impossible for the officer to deliver fair and impartial law when he is not impartial to all races. To be a police officer, it is necessary to be impartial as a police officer has a great deal of power that they must use fairly and responsibly. By posting racist messages on Facebook and having a bumper sticker that depicts protesters being run over by a car the police officer is showing that he is not impartial. Therefore there is a chance that the police officer will not use the power that is given to him fairly and responsibly. Because of this, the officer may not deliver fair and impartial law. This means people of certain races may not receive the rights that they were granted in the constitution when dealing with this officer. Another reason why the police department’s ruling to suspend the officer is justified is that this is not the first time disciplinary action has been taken against the officer for similar offenses. A few years before the officer’s suspension for his recent offense he was investigated internally for posting racist images to his Facebook account. After the investigation, the officer was warned not to continue posting racist images. As you may have guessed the officer did not stop making the posts. This shows that the officer has already had a chance to redeem himself, and he did not take the chance. Because of this, there is no reason to believe that the officer will stop doing this if he is allowed to remain as a police officer. The final reason why the police department’s ruling to suspend the officer is justified is that the officer is a liability to the department. The Chicago police department received more complaints regarding the police officer in question than 99% of all Chicago police officers. On top of the large number of complaints the officer in question also has cost the department more than $100,000 in lawsuits, the most costly to the department is a case where the department was sued because the officer beat a protester with a baton. That specific lawsuit was settled for $85,000. It is not beneficial to the department to keep him if he is costing them this much money. Somebody who is this much of a liability to their employer should not keep their job. In conclusion, freedom of speech is sometimes limited when it negatively affects others.
The second legal case that has challenged an American civil liberty is the case of neo-Nazis having the right to assemble and protest. In this specific case, the right of the Nazis to assemble and speak freely should be upheld. A reason why the Nazis’ right to free speech and assembly should be upheld is that it is a right they are granted in the constitution. The first amendment states “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.” In the first amendment, it states that everybody has the right of free speech and assembly. This applies to all American citizens so if the neo-Nazis are American citizens it applies to them as well. Another reason why neo-Nazis’ rights to free speech and assembly should be upheld is that in the past the policy used by most local and state governments has been to allow Nazis and other political extremists to protest freely. Since this has been the policy in the past when handling political extremist protests, there is no reason to change that now. If states and local governments had restricted protests in the past movements such as the civil rights movement could not have been possible. A few offensive groups should not ruin it for everybody. The final reason why neo-Nazis’ rights to free speech and assembly should be upheld is that just because you do not agree with another group does not mean that they can not speak freely. Nobody is forcing you to attend a Nazi rally or listen to what they have to say during a protest. If you do not agree with the Nazis, you can simply ignore them. In conclusion, free speech applies to everyone.
The final legal case that has challenged an American civil liberty is the case of the girls who were suspended from extracurricular activities for appearing in a photo that was posted to social media with the caption “KKK.” The photo was taken at a party. Disciplinary action should not have been taken against the girls as they did not break any rules based on the circumstances. The first reason why disciplinary action should not have been taken against the girls is that the letters “KKK” were the initials of the girl who was hosting the party they were attending where the picture was taken. It should not be a crime to have initials that happen to be the same as a terrorist organization. Your name is not something you can choose. The girl did not pick her initials. The second reason why disciplinary have been taken against the girls is that there were African Americans and people of other races that attended the party. Some of these people were invited by the girls that appeared in the picture. This further shows that the girls did not have malicious intentions. If the girls were truly racist why would they invite African Americans to the party? If the girls were truly racist, it would make no sense for them to do this. The final reason why disciplinary action should not have been taken against the girls is that they were not given a hearing before being banned from extracurricular activities. It does not make sense that they were not given a chance to explain themselves before being punished. If the girls were given a chance to explain themselves, they would have been able to explain how the letters “KKK” were the initials of the girl hosting the party. They also would have been able to explain how they did include people that were African American and from different races. It is important to look deeper into a case before jumping to conclusions.
Civil liberties are a large part of daily life for those living in the United States. Even though civil liberties are such a large part of daily life, there are a lot of people that do not know their civil liberties. If people were more educated on the rights granted to them in the constitution, there would most likely be far fewer cases going to court regarding civil liberties. It is impossible to avoid civil liberties as that is what this country is built upon. If you have an understanding of civil liberties you have an understanding of the system of democracy. It is very important to understand this system as you are living in it every day. The American people must continue to fight for their rights. If rights are not fought for they may start to fade away.