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Understanding the Bill of Rights at Half Hollow Hills Community Library
July 6, 2022 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
1. Is A Bill of Rights Necessary?
This introductory session will analyze the role of the first ten amendments in our constitutional structure, why it wasn’t included in the original seven articles drafted in 1787 and why some framers believed a bill or rights was “unnecessary.”
2. Amendment I: Freedom of Religion
Does the Constitution mandate the separation of church and state? In this session we will consider how Founding-era ideals have been applied to the controversial issue of religion and government interaction in America.
3. Amendment I: Freedom of Speech
The government routinely makes laws preventing people from speaking or expressing themselves in every instance without recourse. So if free speech is not an absolute right then when are government restrictions permitted? In this session, circumstances and other landmark Supreme Court decisions will be discussed to analyze the challenge of balancing this important civil liberty and public safety in America.
4. Amendment II: “…the right to keep and bear arms…”
In this session, we will discuss the 27 words of the amendment and differing opinions on what they mean. Included in our discussion will be what the Supreme Court has said about the evolving status of this debate.
5. Amendment IV and V: “…Unreasonable Searches and Seizures…” and “…The Right To Remain Silent…”
The Constitution’s Fourth and Fifth Amendments, among other things, protect us from unlawful intrusion by the government. Yet how do we determine between reasonable and unreasonable when simultaneously protecting public safety and ensuring individual liberties? The issue, older than the republic yet complicated by new technology, will be discussed in this session.
6. Amendment VIII: The Death Penalty and the Constitution
Supporters and opponents of the death penalty would agree that no government power is more in demand of scrutiny than the ability of the state to take a life. In this session, we will explore the issue through the context of the Constitution’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments” and what Chief Justice Earl Warren described in a 1958 opinion as the “evolving standards of decency.”