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    The Bill of Rights Institute consistently provides quality, primary-source based resources to civics educators across the country. Voices of History gives you the opportunity to access our best curricula, online, anytime, free of charge. Looking for a lesson on the Constitutional Convention? Simply type your terms in the search bar and a plethora…[Read more]

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    America’s Founders recognized the necessity to republicanism of vigorous public debate and enshrined the right to speak freely in the Bill of Rights for this purpose. This component of the Constitution protects a wide range of speech, including speech we might find disagreeable; this is when the First Amendment’s importance becomes most obvious.…[Read more]

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    In this lesson, students will examine the history and importance of press freedom and, by seeking out information on constitutional issues from multiple sources, begin to understand ways a free press makes self-government possible.

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    The Founders knew that an individual’s voice is at its most powerful when he can freely come together with citizens of like mind and speak as one. People in the United States have organized, demonstrated, petitioned, and protested in a variety of ways and on a variety of topics, many controversial, since our very beginnings. These rights, however,…[Read more]

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    The debate over the Bill of Rights at the Founding was not an argument over whether rights exist, but about how best to protect those rights. The founders disagreed about whether a bill of rights was necessary, and whether it would be effective. Later generations continue to face the challenge of finding the best way to safeguard individual…[Read more]

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    Incorporation effects have been far-reaching. The role of the federal government has been significantly transformed as has the role of the Supreme Court. The basic responsibility of government to protect fundamental rights has not changed. However, citizens and the courts are still working to determine exactly what those rights are and who should…[Read more]

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    One of Americans’ most cherished freedoms is the free exercise of religion. In a nation where people of many faiths live side-by-side, the First Amendment’s free exercise clause protects individuals from government interference in the practicing of their faith. The government cannot target laws at specific religious practices or place undue…[Read more]

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    The Supreme Court has protected many rights not listed explicitly in the Bill of Rights, such as the freedom to travel without restriction, although it has not used the Ninth Amendment, which protects, “other rights not listed”, very often. This lesson examines rights people have claimed under the Ninth Amendment. Students will analyze different…[Read more]

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    Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce, granted in the Commerce Clause, is often invoked as justification for laws regulating a wide variety of economic activities. How much power does the Commerce Clause allow the federal government to have over the states? This lesson examines this question by looking at the principle behind this…[Read more]

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    The Founders were extremely concerned with protecting private property as a cornerstone of a free society. Property is not only physical possessions, but also ideas, works, and even what someone has been promised in wages. This lesson explores the idea of property, its origins and the reason it is protected.

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    The Fourteenth Amendment was written to ensure that freed slaves would be treated as citizens, but, in the twentieth century the courts extended its protections to carious classes of people in carious circumstances. This concept of incorporation means that the federal government uses the Fourteenth Amendment to address limitations on liberty by…[Read more]

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    The Constitutional principle of due process, which holds that government must interact with citizens according to duly-enacted laws, balances the rights of suspects with public safety. This lesson explores the protections provided by the fourth amendment and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it over time.

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    The delegates to the Constitutional Convention embraced the difficult duty of crafting a government that appropriately distributed the power between the national government and the states. For the Founders, the principle of federalism was a means of protecting liberty by limiting and dividing government power. This lesson explores the principle of…[Read more]

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    In this lesson, students will explore the events and philosophies from British and colonial history that shaped the Founders’ ideas about natural rights as well as the rights of Englishmen. They will also see how these rights affect all of our daily lives in a free society.

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    The Founders wanted to be sure they preserved the right to keep and bear arms as they established their new sovereign government. Americans asserted a natural right to defend themselves and their property against all threats, including tyranny of any kind, foreign or domestic. The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights was included to reflect the…[Read more]

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    The original thirteen states that formed the United States included individuals from a variety of religious traditions. To ensure that the national government respected freedom of belief, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religious practice, the First Amendment prohibited the federal government from either establishing a national church or…[Read more]

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    For much of American history, the Supreme Court had very little to say about the Second Amendment until 2008 when the Court heard arguments in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. Richard Heller challenged the city’s total ban on handguns on Second Amendment grounds. The Court agreed with Heller, finding the ban unconstitutional.

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    The Founders meant for the First Amendment to protect a wide array of expressive activities. The Supreme Court, recognizing changes in society and technology, has applied the First Amendment’s protections in some ways that are broader than ever. Student speech in public schools, however, poses unique questions. This lesson will help students to…[Read more]

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    The Founders believed that property is among the natural rights governments exist to protect. One of the ways the Founders protected property rights was in the Fifth Amendment. This amendment restricts the government’s ability to take property and ensures that when it does take property ,it must pay for it. This lesson explores the Fifth Amendment…[Read more]

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    The Founders listed several rights guaranteed to the people in the first eight amendments of the Bill of Rights. They did not believe that this list was all encompassing, so they included the Ninth Amendment as a way to protect the rights of the people that were not listed in the first Eight. This lessons explores the nature of these unnamed…[Read more]

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