Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Dis is my Blog

Should donating to a certain politician be covered by symbolic speech? Symbolic Speech is seen as a representation of one’s beliefs or messages in the form of nonverbal communication.  In this instance, donating money politicians is considered speech because the  money you donate displays support to a politicians. Meaning the more money you donate, the more you support the candidate.  I think donations to a certain political candidate shouldn’t be covered by the First Amendment. In an article written by Deena Zaru she talks to Emily Tisch Sussman, a Campaigns Director for Center for American Progress Action Fund. The article is about the Supreme Court ruling that private citizens can contribute as they would like. Sussman says, “ the ruling is problematic because candidates will be less concerned with serving the public and more focused on courting a few wealthy citizens who could fund their campaigns”. I agree with Sussman, because if you were take the money out of politics, people would vote for the person who they like the best. Instead of it being about how much money each candidate can raise it should be about politics. In the article How Citizens United Has Changed Politics in 5 Year it says, “ a recent analysis of the 2014 Senate races by the Brennan Center for Justice found outside spending more than doubled since 2010, to $486 Million. Outside groups provided 47 percent of total spending more than the candidates’ 41”.  The fact that outside spending groups are providing more money then the actual candidates should be reason enough alone to have this type of symbolic speech be not covered by the First Amendment.

 

Deena Zaru. “Are political donations a form of free speech? – CNNPolitics.” CNN. 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2018. <https://www.cnn.com/2015/02/19/politics/sotu-fec-mccutcheon-scotus-political-donations-free-speech/index.html>

N.a. “Symbolic Speech – constitution | Laws.com.” Constitution.laws.com. n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2018. <https://constitution.laws.com/the-supreme-court/symbolic-speech>

 

Advertisements

Should Teams Be Able to Pray Before Games?

Essential Question: Should teams be allowed to pray together before games?

 

There has been a lot of controversy over the topic of the Freedom of Religion within the First Amendment.  Many are at war over whether teams should be allowed to pray before games or not. The problem sparked at Santa Fe High School around 1995 and was reassessed in 2015 and 2016 after a few more sport incidents.  The First Amendment may protect individual’s rights to freedom religion but when it comes to teams praying on a public school property, it is not protected.  This is because the government is not allowed to promote religion in any way.  How does this relate to a school sporting event you might ask.  Public schools are owned by the government.  If a public school were to teach about prayer, or allow teams to pray together before events, they could get in serious trouble because one may see this as promoting religion.  Individuals may take a moment of silence but they must practice their religion to themselves so they do not violate others rights.  Some may take The government regulates this closely so that no schools is deemed favored over another.  There have been several cases of this and no school has won due to the fact that the First Amendment does not protect them on this matter. 

Some may believe that this violates their Freedom of Exercise but it does not.  They are not banning you from your religious practices as an individual but they are protecting the rights of others and the laws that they have to follow.  If other’s rights are being violated then it can lead to serious conflicts between families of the school and would have to involve members of the school board.  If word got out of conflicts like this, it could hurt the school’s reputation or would cause even more arguments from people not involved in the situation.  For these many reasons, school athletic teams are not allowed to pray before games.

 

Works Cited:

Membership, ALCU. “Your Right to Religious Freedom.” American Civil Liberties Union, 2018, http://www.aclu.org/other/your-right-religious-freedom.

Carlson, Mr. David. “Establishment Clause.” LII / Legal Information Institute, 10 June 2009, http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/establishment_clause.

Ash, Elliott T. “Free Exercise Clause.” LII / Legal Information Institute, 4 May 2010, http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/free_exercise_clause.

Green, Lee. “Prayer, Religion-Related Activities at School Athletics Events.” NFHS, 13 Apr. 2016, http://www.nfhs.org/articles/prayer-religion-related-activities-at-school-athletics-events/.

Flag Burning: Symbolic or an Action that should be Torched

You might not think about it, but the 1st Amendment is much more than the right to practice the religion you choose, it is much more than the right to freedom of the press, and it is much more than the right to freedom of speech. It is all much deeper than just that. Within the freedom of speech, you not only have the right to express yourself verbally, but you also have the right to express your ideas through actions. That is symbolic speech. Like most limits of the 1st Amendment, the limits to symbolic speech are very blurred and not completely understood. This raises many questions, one being is burning the flag of the United States of America protected as symbolic speech under the 1st Amendment?

The simple answer to that question is yes, burning the US flag is protected under the 1st Amendment. While this controversy still exists today, it has been around for a while. This idea first came into question in 1984 in the Texas v. Johnson case. Gregory Johnson wanted to protest President Reagan and his policies at the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. To do so, he burned a flag outside the convention center where it was being held and was arrested when bystanders felt offended by his actions. He was being charged for ¨violating a Texas statute that prevented the desecration of a venerated object, including the American flag, if such action were likely to incite anger in others¨. Johnson’s defense: his actions were protected under the 1st Amendment as symbolic speech. After a trial and an appeal, the case moved to the Supreme Court where they ruled 5-4 in favor of Johnson. Their reasoning, ¨The majority of the Court, according to Justice William Brennan, agreed with Johnson and held that flag burning constitutes a form of “symbolic speech” that is protected by the First Amendment. The majority noted that freedom of speech protects actions that society may find very offensive, but society’s outrage alone is not justification for suppressing free speech¨. This ruling only applied to Texas law, so the federal government decided to enact a law that prohibited all flag burning, ¨with the exception of burning and burying worn out flags¨. In the same 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court voted against this law, ending its enactment. Due to that, the guidelines from Texas v. Johnson are the ones that we follow today regarding symbolic speech, although they are occasionally challenged. When challenged, the prosecutor (often the government) must prove to a court that there is sufficient reason that the action in question should not be protected as symbolic speech. This reason cannot just be that the prosecutor disapproves of the action and finds it offensive.

While not all issues with the 1st Amendment are always crystal clear, the issue regarding flag burning seems like it is set in stone, burning the US flag is protected as symbolic speech under the 1st Amendment. While many may not like it, it offers one to voice their displeasure over problems regarding the state of our nation through actions, not just words.

 

 

Works Cited

Burning the American Flag

Burning the American flag is symbolic speech. Symbolic speech is an expression of an idea that doesn’t use words. For example, Gregory Lee Johnson was convicted for desecrating a flag in violation of Texas law. The Court determined if his conviction was consistent with the First Amendment. The Court of Criminal Appeals viewed Mr. Johnson’s conduct as symbolic speech which is protected by the First Amendment. “Given the context of an organized demonstration, speeches, slogans, and the distribution of literature, anyone who observed the appellant’s act would have understood the message that appellant intended to convey. The act for which appellant was convicted was clearly speech contemplated by the First Amendment.” Id., at 95. If Mr. Johnson was disturbing the peace there would be charges. Since Mr. Johnson wasn’t disturbing the peace with his desecration of the flag there were no charges.

A con to burning the American flag is that the American flag is losing significance. A citizen could see flag burning as a threat to the United States. Barry states on web.b.ebscohost.com, “Our freedom is protected institutions, groups and individuals; the police, legal system, ambos, parliament, and trade unions. The treat to our society will more likely come from within unless we are tolerate, accept people’s differences, and treat all those who come to our country with respect and dignity.” Burning the American flag is disrespectful towards our country.

Work Cited

Brennan, William J., and William H. Rehnquist. “Court’s Opposing Views Create Storm of Debate.” Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, FL), 02 Jul, 1989, pp. 1E+, SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.

Illawarra Mercury (2018). Flag has Lost Significance. [online] p.pg 15. Available at: http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=b9560f2e-626f-4f72-be1b-eaf4efe97c86%40sessionmgr101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=SYD-63GPV4XJJUO173JML1EO&db=n5h [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].

Police arrest protesters at flag-burning outside convention. (2016). [Blog] Sofrep. Available at: https://sofrep.com/59653/police-arrest-protesters-flag-burning-outside-convention/ [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018]. 

Censorship in schools

By definition censorship is, the removal, suspension, or restricted circulation of literary, artistic, or educational materials. Most parents want censorship in schools, because they don’t want their children being taught the exact opposite of what they preach at home. Also many people believe that young kids aren’t good at making decisions for themselves and they don’t always know right from wrong. So schools need to have censorship to filter out all the bad stuff and only teach students good values. Censorship gives parents peace of mind and shape the minds of our youth.  

There are still plenty of people who don’t like the idea of censorship in schools. Lots of people believe that censorship isn’t allowing students to form their own ideas. If you don’t allow students to form their own ideas then it’s hard for society to have different views on things. The court system would have to agree with these people, they tend to vote with the schools most of the time limiting censorship in schools and allowing students to become free thinkers. As long as schools don’t cross any religious boundaries, or are trying to push political views on students then the court will allow it.

“Censorship in Schools Pros and Cons List.” NYLN.org. N.p., 14 Jan. 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

“Censorship in the Schools.” Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. N.p., 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

“Education World: Banning Books from the Classroom: How to Handle Cries for Censorship.” Education World: Banning Books from the Classroom: How to Handle Cries for Censorship. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Burning a Flag or Utilizing a Right?

 

Should burning the American Flag be considered symbolic speech, which therefore is protected by the First Amendment?

Burning the flag of the United States is a very controversial topic, but not enough light is shed on this important debate. An important question arises every so often questioning flag desecration and why it’s still legal, and time and time again it is answered with an unfortunate fact: It’s protected by the First Amendment (symbolic speech to be more specific). As of today, burning the flag is completely legal in accordance with free speech, and it’s important that others are free to express their right to speak out against the government. They say that it’s their way of protesting the government and that it’s just a piece of cloth, but this is where others misinterpret their actions. Most veterans support the passing of a constitutional amendment that allows Congress to ban the action of flag burning or desecration. They believe it is disrespecting them and what they fought and died for. However, some would make the case that it’s a slippery slope.

The idea of creating amendment to do something about this inappropriate action is nothing new. Before the Texas v. Johnson case of 1989 which made flag burning legal under the First Amendment, forty-eight out of the fifty states had installed flag protection laws similar to the Flag Protection Act passed by Congress in 1968. A 5-4 decision in the Texas v. Johnson case declared the Flag Protection Act an unconstitutional restriction of public expression. Again in 1990, the discussion was brought up in the cases of United States v. Eichman and United States v. Haggerty (argued together), and again it struck down the Flag Protection Act in a 5-4 decision, similar to the Texas v. Johnson case.

Each case in relation to flag burning proves that there is support for creating an amendment to ban the burning of the American flag. President Trump has stated in a tweet that there should be punishments for burning the flag. Though I agree that there should be some form of penalty, his terms are far too extreme. A moderate fine would be an acceptable form of punishment, but first comes the task of making the action illegal. As long as flag desecration is considered symbolic speech, it is protected under the First Amendment. However, if the action is done in the face of others such as former military members, it could be considered incitement and therefore the offender will face a penalty. In the end, this conflict is an internal struggle within the public. Even though some may not like it, it’s important to respect the rights of others. Nevertheless, the barrier between breaking the law and exercising your constitutional right is exceedingly fragile, ergo it’s important to distinguish between the two.

 

Works Cited:

Mauro, Tony. &quot;Burning the Flag: A Right Or a Wrong?&quot;<i> USA TODAY</i>, 26 May 1998, pp. 1A-2A.<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a&gt;.

 

Hey, Robert P. &quot;Push Persists to Protect Stars and Stripes.&quot;<i> Christian Science Monitor</i>, 19 Jul 2001,<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a&gt;.

 

“Facts And Case Summary – Texas V. Johnson”. United States Courts. N. p., 2017. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

Tags: Symbolic Speech, First Amendment, Supreme Court, Flag Desecration, Incitement, President Trump

 

Can elections work as auctions?

The ethical and legal lines of campaign financing have been danced around for decades.  The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, amended in 1974, was a major turning point in ending the monetary free-for-all that was public and private donations to political campaigns.  By creating the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which imposed contribution and spending limits, the Act provided a basis for distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable giving.  Only two years later, in Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the limitations on contributions to candidates for federal office while at the same time declaring a $1,000 limit on independent expenditures unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court revisited this issue many times, opening loopholes and creating more room for larger donations and Super PACs to take shape.  Recently, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), wealthy businessman Shaun McCutcheon wanted to give a symbolic $1,776 to each of 28 Republican candidates for Congress in 2012.  Going back to Buckley v. Valeo, Watergate, and many other federal limitations established in this time, he could only donate to 16 of the 28 before the case was opened.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court struck down many caps and reopened the floodgates so that individuals were now allowed to donate as much as they pleased.  

In a government of the people, by the people, for the people, should financing caps be put in place or should an individual’s money be a critical tool of democracy?  Possibly the most crucial aspect of the First Amendment is the guaranteed freedom of speech, which protects the citizens right to express themselves any way they choose.  Money is a form of expression, most certainly in the United States.  Capitalism runs on freedom of expression of the customer, which furthers competition and eventually progress.  As put by Chief Justice John Roberts in explanation of the McCutcheon decision and how money plays a role in our elections, “There is no right more basic in our democracy, than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”  He also commented that the First Amendment freedom-of-speech guarantee includes the right to endorse political candidates, and that to “restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others” would be unconstitutional.  McCutcheon v. FEC was the closest decision that the Supreme Court could make, and the other side also leaves plenty to think about.  The four Supreme Court Justices voting for the FEC explained that campaign contribution limits have the sole purpose of cutting down quid pro quo corruption, where candidates receive cash from donors in an exchange for an under the rug “I’ll do this for you in office.”

Taken from the context within it was written, campaign donations should not have a cap.  So long as they come from actual people, supporting your personal prefered campaign ideology should come with no limit.