Category: Constitutional Rights

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The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a consequential amendment protecting several civil and political rights of the people. The Constitutional Amendment establishes citizenship rights, equal protection under the law, and prohibits state and local government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process...

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States outlaws slavery, and gives Congress the power to create laws to enforce this prohibition, and punish those who violate such laws. What is the Thirteenth Amendment in simple terms? The Thirteenth Amendment abolished the institution of chattel slavery, and the...

The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States modifies and supersedes Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, which explains the process followed by the Electoral College in counting the votes of the electors on Election Day.  What is the Twelfth Amendment in simple terms? The Twelfth Amendment dictates...

Your Legal Roadmap: Answering Your Questions

Question 1

What Speech is protected by the First Amendment?

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects freedom of speech, which means the government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content. Free speech is the right to express any opinion in public without censorship or restraint by the government. Freedom of speech may be exercised in a direct way with words, or a symbolic way with actions. The right to express oneself is also recognized as an inherent human right by the United Nations in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Read more.
Question 2

Can felons own firearms?

The Second Amendment confers the individual right to keep and bear arms, but it is not unlimited. In general, law-abiding citizens’ keep and bear arms is protected, and government regulations may only infringe upon that right under limited circumstances. The Gun Control Act explains the following classes of persons are prohibited from owning or possessing certain weapons: Convicted felons, or persons convicted of a misdemeanor with a term of imprisonment exceeding one year... Read more.
Question 3

When can police search a cell phone?

Police generally need a warrant supported by probable cause to search a suspect’s cell phone. Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and qualitative sense from other objects that might be carried on an arrestee’s person. Modern cell phones have immense storage capacity, with the ability to store millions of pages of texts, thousands of pictures, or hundreds of videos. Prior to cell phones, a search of a person was limited by physical realities and generally constituted only a narrow intrusion of privacy. Because of the extensive privacy invasion, a warrant is required to search an arrestee’s cell phone. Read more.
Question 4

What does it mean to plead the fifth?

“Pleading the Fifth” is a colloquial term often used to describe when witnesses refuse to answer questions that may incriminate themselves. A criminal defendant on trial may invoke the privilege and not take the witness stand at all. The privilege extends to non-defendant witnesses, who may not be compelled to give testimony tending to show they committed a crime. A jury is also prohibited from drawing inferences from the witness’s invocation of the privilege against self-incrimination. Read more.
Question 5

Can you represent yourself in court?

Defendants who give up their right to counsel and invoke their right to self-representation—or their right to proceed pro se—must be advised of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, and their competence to waive their right will be assessed based on their literacy and ability to understand the rights they are giving up... Read more.
Question 6

What is an unreasonable search and seizure?

Although no single rubric definitively resolves which expectations of privacy are entitled to protection, the analysis is informed by historical understandings “of what was deemed an unreasonable search and seizure when [the Fourth Amendment] was adopted.” Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 149 (1925). On this score, our cases have recognized some basic guideposts. First, that the Amendment seeks to secure “the privacies of life” against “arbitrary power.” Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630 (1886). Second, and relatedly, that a central aim of the Framers was “to place obstacles in the way of a too permeating police surveillance.” United States v. Di Re, 332 U.S. 581, 595 (1948). Read more.

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