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Thread: What is taught about US Government in US High Schools

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    What is taught about US Government in US High Schools

    Gasp! I'm posting in Politics! Once you recover keep reading.

    So, this year my older daughter is taking AP Government in high school. I thought some of you might be interest is seeing what is taught to American students about our government or might want to learn about our government from OUR point of view. You're welcome to post questions or your thoughts about her assignments. She knows that you all have VERY strong opinions.

    Her summer assignment:
    This first packet is the reading:
    AP Goverment Summer Assignment.pdf
    She also has to read the first three articles of the constitution:

    This second packet is what she has to do once she finishes reading:
    AP government chapter 1 reading outline.pdf
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    Rockzmom, I read about it in school and uni. It seems like a very good system. As you know I complain a lot about the US, I think the system itself is probably very good and democratic, with lots of clever built-in controls etc. It's probably one of the best systems around, and fitted to the unique situation of a country as large and diverse as the USA.

    The trouble in my opinion is that it is run by money/corporations, i.e. the politicians are either bought by their campaign sponsors, or in some other way, by lobbyists. People are sold on "the American dream" by media, and imagine that hardcore capitalism will get them the type of lifestyle they see in soap operas and Hollywood films. But in reality it's not attainable for most people.

    I think that is the reason why the US does things which citizens probably wouldn't agree with if they looked at what's truly in their best interest. (Like go and invade countries on the other side of the planet).

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    Constitution of the US: separation of powers – system of checks and balances;

    “Separation of powers political doctrine originating from the United States Constitution, according to which the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the United States government are kept distinct in order to prevent abuse of power. This U.S. form of separation of powers is associated with a system of checks and balances.”

    Separation of powers under the United States Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    “In the United States government, executive privilege is the power claimed by the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government. The concept of executive privilege is not mentioned explicitly in the United States Constitution, but the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it to be an element of the separation of powers doctrine, and/or derived from the supremacy of executive branch in its own area of Constitutional activity.”

    Executive privilege - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    And so the precise area where checks and balances were intended to prevent abuses, is the area where abuses flourish. The framers did not want a dictatorial or imperial president. By claiming ‘national security’ and executive privilege, no oversight or checks and balances by legislative or judicial branches are permitted by the executive branch for various activities.

    Transformation into the ‘imperial presidency’. Rule by decree: the executive order.

    “Critics have accused presidents of abusing executive orders, of using them to make laws without Congressional approval, and of moving existing laws away from their original mandates.”
    Executive order - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Imperial Presidency - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Lots of discussions about these can be found, and comments by people from inside various administrations. Example:

    Introduction | Cheney's Law | FRONTLINE | PBS

    Americans are largely dissatisfied with the political system. The system of representation doesn't represent us anymore.

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    Seraph, thanks for the links. My daughter found the last article VERY interesting.
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    AP U.S. Government & Politics Practice Exam
    Section I (Multiple-Choice Questions)
    Time—45 minutes
    60 Questions

    Directions: There are five possible answer choices for each question or incomplete statement. Choose the one answer choice that best answers the question or completes the statement. I'll post the answers at the end

    1. Until the Constitution was ratified, the document that established and defined the government of the United States was the
    A. Declaration of Independence
    B. Bill of Rights
    C. Mayflower Compact
    D. Articles of Confederation
    E. Treaty of Friendship and Unity

    2. Which of the following statements is NOT true of the Supreme Court’s decision in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)?
    A. It held that state governments could pass a law negating a federal law within their boundaries if they believed the federal law was unconstitutional.
    B. It confirmed the supremacy of the federal government over state governments.
    C. It determined that states could not levy taxes on federal government operations.
    D. It interpreted the “necessary and proper” powers clause of the Constitution to mean that the federal government has implied powers not specifically stated in the Constitution.
    E. It upheld the constitutionality of the national bank established by the federal government.

    3. Which of the following is a clause of the Constitution that gives the federal government broad powers in many policy areas?
    A. Interstate Commerce Clause
    B. Tenth Amendment
    C. Free-Exercise Clause
    D. Establishment Clause
    E. Fiscal Federalism Clause

    4. While the practice of separate schools for black and white students was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), segregation in restaurants, stores, hotels, and other public accommodations remained legal until
    A. the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967)
    B. the ratification of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment (1964)
    C. the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
    D. state legislatures eventually changed the laws permitting segregation
    E. President Lyndon Johnson issued an executive order ending all segregation by race

    5. Which is a reason the power of the two major parties is in decline in the United States?
    A. The number of people voting for third parties has risen sharply.
    B. In most states, parties no longer select the candidates for the general election.
    C. Parties no longer have state and local organizations.
    D. Parties no longer conduct get-out-the-vote drives.
    E. Candidates now raise most of their campaign funds themselves and do not heavily rely on funds from their party.

    6. The Supreme Court’s power of judicial review was established by
    A. the Bill of Rights
    B. the Constitution
    C. the Court’s decision in Griswold v. Connecticut
    D. the Court’s decision in Marbury v. Madison
    E. the Court’s decision in Gibbons v. Ogden

    7. Which one of the following groups is MOST likely to participate in an election?
    A. African Americans
    B. people with college degrees
    C. Hispanic voters
    D. people under age 35
    E. people in households with below-average income

    8. A filibuster occurs when
    A. a majority of either the House of Representatives or the Senate support a bill but cannot get the two-thirds majority needed for cloture to end debate and vote
    B. the Senate and House cannot agree on final language for legislation both houses have passed in different versions, and debate continues endlessly
    C. the president announces he will veto a bill, but a group of senators keep the bill alive by continuing to debate it
    D. a senator or small group of senators want to draw public attention to bill so it will gain support and pass
    E. a majority the Senate supports a bill, but the majority is not large enough to produce the 60 votes needed to end debate on the bill in the Senate

    9. Which of the following actions of the president has no basis in the Constitution?
    A. issuing executive orders
    B. serving as leader of his political party
    C. stationing U.S. troops at bases abroad
    D. negotiating free trade agreements with other countries
    E. proposing legislation to Congress

    11. Which of the following is an independent federal regulatory agency?
    A. U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
    B. FBI
    C. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
    D. Department of Veterans Affairs
    E. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

    12. Which of the following outcomes are NOT possible in the Electoral College system?
    A. The Electoral College could choose a president who did not have the most electoral votes.
    B. The House of Representatives could choose the president.
    C. The Electoral College could choose a president who did not get the most votes of the people.
    D. The Electoral College could choose a president who did not win the most states.
    E. Some electors could vote for a third-party candidate for president.

    13. The Supreme Court’s decision in Texas v. Johnson, which overturned a state law against flag-burning, was based on
    A. the First Amendment right to peacefully assemble to protest
    B. The Free-Exercise Clause of the First Amendment
    C. the First Amendment right of freedom of speech
    D. the restrictions on search and seizure of the Fourth Amendment
    E. the establishment clause of the First Amendment

    14. Which statement best describes American political culture?
    A. The dominant political culture depends on which political party is in power.
    B. Due to its ethnic diversity, there are different political cultures in the United States.
    C. American political culture is a melting pot of different political ideals from around the world.
    D. Liberals and conservatives in the United States have different political cultures.
    E. The American political culture is comprised of beliefs—such as individual rights, majority rule, and limited government—that are shared by virtually all Americans.

    16. Which of the following is a concurrent power in the American system of federalism?
    A. the power to make treaties with foreign governments
    B. the power to levy taxes
    C. the power to make monetary policy
    D. the power to establish local governments (cities, counties, school districts, etc.)
    E. the power to regulate interstate commerce

    17. The House of Representatives and the Senate are most similar to each other in
    A. the checks they have on the power of the president
    B. the way they select their presiding officer
    C. the number of members they have
    D. the power standing committees have in the legislative process
    E. the power of the Rules Committee to set the rules for floor debate

    18. Which of the following give(s) a reason why the power of the federal government has grown relative to state governments?
    I. the devolution of power
    II. the conditional funding the federal government can provide to state governments
    III. the growth of interstate commerce
    IV. the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution

    A. statement I only
    B. statements II and IV only
    C. statements III and IV only
    D. statements II, III, and IV only
    E. statements I, II, III, and IV

    19. What is an open seat in a congressional election?
    A. a seat in a congressional district that is evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters, making it likely that either party could win
    B. a seat in which redistricting has redefined the district’s boundaries in a way to make it unfavorable to the reelection of the incumbent
    C. a seat for which there is no incumbent running
    D. a seat where the incumbent has been accused of a crime and is unlikely to win reelection
    E. a seat where the incumbent belongs to a different party than the majority of his/her constituents

    20. Which one of the following does NOT describe a reason why Congress generally fails to perform the function of national leader as the Constitutional Convention intended?
    A. Congress is usually slow to act.
    B. Congress is often gridlocked and can’t agree on action.
    C. Congress has little actual power.
    D. No one in Congress represents the country as a whole.
    E. Congressional leadership is divided among a number of people.
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    21. The main function of the president’s cabinet is
    A. to put together the federal budget and submit it to Congress
    B. to write federal regulations
    C. to provide advice to the president
    D. to provide leadership in the event the president is unable to perform his duties
    E. to provide information regarding proposed legislation by testifying before Congress

    22. Which statement correctly describes political socialization?
    A. Political socialization motivates citizens to become active in politics.
    B. Political socialization tends to produce citizens more inclined to accept socialistic programs as they get older.
    C. Political socialization is a continuing process in which the adult years are the most important.
    D. Political socialization is the term used to describe the growth of entitlement programs.
    E. Political socialization is the process through which individuals develop their political values and beliefs.

    23. Which of the statements below best describes reapportionment?
    A. the redrawing of congressional districts by the House of Representatives based on a new census
    B. the redrawing of congressional districts by state governments based on a new census
    C. the reallocation of seats in the Senate and House of Representatives based on a new census
    D. the reallocation of seats in the House of Representatives to the states based on a new census
    E. the reallocation of seats on committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate between the two parties based on the most recent election

    24. The concept that the American political process is dominated by the struggle of multiple interest groups each trying to advance its own political goals can best be described as
    A. democracy
    B. pluralism
    C. free enterprise
    D. socialism
    E. elitism

    26. Which of the following is NOT a check on the power of the president that the Constitution gives Congress?
    A. Congress can pass a law the president has vetoed.
    B. Congress can reject the president’s selections of people to fill key positions in the Executive Office of the President.
    C. Congress can reject a treaty the president has negotiated.
    D. Congress can refuse to fund a program the president supports.
    E. Congress can reject the president’s nominees for federal judges.

    27. Which of the following is NOT a step in the process of passing the annual federal budget?
    A. Federal agencies submit their budget requests directly to Congress.
    B. The Office of Management and Budget reviews the budget requests of the various federal agencies.
    C. The appropriations committees in the House and the Senate consider the proposed budget.
    D. The budget committees in the House and Senate consider the proposed budget.
    E. The president signs or vetoes the various appropriations bills passed by Congress.

    28. The main reason why the popular vote and the electoral vote for president may be very different is
    A. the prevalence of horse-trading and corruption in American politics
    B. the candidates focus their campaigns only on a few swing states
    C. small states have more power in the Electoral College than their population would merit
    D. electors often switch votes to vote for the winning candidate to gain political influence and advance their careers
    E. the winner-take-all system most states use in selecting electors

    29. The decision of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade was based on
    A. the Free-Exercise Clause of the First Amendment
    B. the right to privacy stated in the Bill of Rights
    C. the right to privacy implied in the Bill of Rights
    D. the right to privacy established in Lawrence v. Texas
    E. the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment

    30. Which of the following federal courts have/has original jurisdiction?
    A. The Supreme Court and U.S. District Courts
    B. U.S. District Courts and U.S. Courts of Appeal
    C. U.S. Courts of Appeal only
    D. U.S. District Courts only
    E. State supreme courts

    31. The “Elastic Clause” of the Constitution
    A. held the union together by setting up a bicameral Congress—a compromise between large and small states that allowed equal representation in one house and representation based on population in the other house
    B. provides that a state’s representation in Congress will go up or down every ten years based on a new national census
    C. gives the president the authority to assume greater power in a time of war
    D. states that powers not specifically given to the national government are reserved to the states or the people
    E. states that the national government’s powers include implied powers not specifically listed in the Constitution

    32. The chief accomplishment of the Anti-Federalists in the debate over the Constitution was the
    A. Great Compromise creating a bicameral legislative branch
    B. the establishment of a national bank
    C. the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution
    D. the precedent established by George Washington that the president should be limited to two terms in office
    E. the establishment of the system of electoral votes to select the president, rather than the people themselves

    33. Which statement below best describes an open primary?
    A. The election is open to all candidates who want on the ballot, not just those approved by the party leadership.
    B. Voters can cross party lines voting for candidates of different parties in the primary election.
    C. The voting booths are open and the secret ballot is not used.
    D. It is a primary election in which voters can vote during a specified period of time rather than just on Election Day.
    E. Voters can choose which party’s primary election ballot they want to use to vote.

    34. Which one of the following statements does NOT correctly describe
    administrative law?
    A. Administrative law is law written by federal agencies rather than Congress.
    B. Administrative law does not have the full force of law that statutory law has.
    C. Administrative law can be overturned by the Supreme Court.
    D. Congress can overturn administrative law by passing statutory laws.
    E. Administrative law is written to carry out or enforce statutory laws.

    35. What role does Congress play in amending the Constitution?
    A. Congress submits amendments to the states for their approval.
    B. Congress approves or rejects amendments supported by two thirds of the states.
    C. The Senate approves proposed amendments by a two-thirds vote, but the House plays little role in the process.
    D. Congress passes amendments by a two-thirds vote, sending them to the president for his signature or veto.
    E. Congress plays no formal role; the Constitution is amended by the states.

    37. In a congressional race, the news media are LEAST likely to focus on
    A. which candidate is ahead in the polls
    B. in-depth reporting on the issues on which the candidates disagree
    C. negative statements made by one candidate about the other
    D. any scandal or accusations of scandal involving a candidate
    E. blunders a candidate makes

    38. What is grassroots lobbying?
    A. an interest group encouraging and organizing its members to contact their representatives in Congress in support of the interest group’s policy goals
    B. a public relations campaign an interest group undertakes to change the opinions of ordinary citizens
    C. an effort by an interest group to increase its membership
    D. lobbying by community groups when no national interest group has been formed
    E. a campaign by the interest group’s members to change the position of the interest group’s leadership on proposed legislation

    39. Which one of the following statements does NOT help explain why incumbents in the House of Representatives usually get reelected?
    A. Incumbents can take credit for bringing federal projects to their district.
    B. Incumbents usually have better name recognition since they’ve been on the ballot before.
    C. Incumbents have had time to build support through constituent service.
    D. Incumbents almost always reflect the views of their constituents better than challengers.
    E. Incumbents have a fund-raising advantage.
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    41. What new interpretation of the Constitution did the Supreme Court use in District of Columbia v. Heller?
    A. The Second Amendment prohibits state and federal governments from requiring the registration of firearms.
    B. Federal and state laws restricting some people, such as convicted felons from purchasing guns, violate the Second Amendment.
    C. The wording of the Second Amendment means that the constitutional right to gun ownership applies only to people serving in a state militia.
    D. The Second Amendment contains a constitutional right to gun ownership irrespective of service in a state militia.
    E. The right of privacy implied in the Bill of Rights extends to carrying of guns in public places.

    42. Which one of the following is an action that does NOT involve participation in the political process?
    A. creating a blog to write about politics
    B. contacting a senator to get help in getting a veteran’s benefit that you believe you are entitled to
    C. reading about politics in the newspaper
    D. giving money to a PAC
    E. signing a petition on the Internet supporting the repeal of a law

    43. The most important influence in determining a person’s political party identification is the person’s
    A. friends
    B. parents
    C. colleagues at work
    D. teachers
    E. religious leaders

    44. The president can influence legislation under consideration by Congress by all of the following actions EXCEPT
    A. speaking out to influence public opinion
    B. talking to members of Congress and applying political pressure
    C. threatening to veto legislation unless certain changes are made
    D. sending key members of his staff or cabinet to testify before Congress or speak to the press in support of the president’s position
    E. threatening to issue an executive order that would prohibit enforcement of the legislation if it is passed

    46. What is the purpose of congressional earmarks?
    A. to require the government to spend money on a specific project
    B. to provide the funding required for entitlement programs
    C. to provide a tax loophole for a specific corporation
    D. to allow for deficit spending rather than balancing the federal budget
    E. to give the president more discretionary funds that can be channeled to where the money is most needed

    47. Which of the following is a value of American political culture?
    A. the belief in limited government
    B. the belief that the government has grown too big
    C. the belief that the government spends too much on entitlement programs
    D. the belief that government needs to do more to control big corporations
    E. the opinion that the U.S. border with Mexico is not secure

    49. In which landmark Supreme Court decision was the right to an attorney extended to require the government to provide lawyers for indigent defendants in state courts?
    A. Miranda v. Arizona
    B. Gideon v. Wainwright
    C. Engle v. Vitale
    D. Baker v. Carr
    E. Mapp v. Ohio

    50. To influence the Judicial Branch of the U.S. government, an interest group can do all of the following EXCEPT
    A. file an amicus curiae brief
    B. lobby the Senate in opposition to a nominee for the Supreme Court
    C. file a lawsuit
    D. meet privately with a federal judge regarding a case
    E. meet with the president to discuss possible nominees to the Supreme Court

    51. According to the term limits imposed by the Constitution
    A. The president cannot be elected to the office of the president more than twice.
    B. The president and vice president cannot serve more than two terms in office.
    C. The president and his cabinet cannot serve more than eight years in office.
    D. The president cannot be elected to more than four terms of office (as Franklin Roosevelt was).
    E. There are no limits on the number of terms a president may serve but by tradition, since George Washington’s refusal to serve a third term, presidents only serve two terms.

    53. What is eminent domain?
    A. the supremacy of the federal government over state governments
    B. the legal document issued when a higher court decides to review a decision of a lower court
    C. the legal term referring to the Supreme Court’s remanding of a case to a lower court for a retrial
    D. a requirement imposed by the federal government on state governments such as requiring that public buildings be accessible to persons with disabilities
    E. the power of government to take private property for public use

    54. Which of the following actions can Congress take if it is unhappy with the actions of a federal agency?
    I. Hold congressional hearings to investigate the actions of the agency
    II. Restrict or eliminate the agency’s funding
    III. Pass a new law restricting the operations of the agency
    IV. Issue an executive order requiring the agency to take certain actions

    A. statement III only
    B. statements I and II only
    C. statements II and III only
    D. statements I, II, and III only
    E. statements I, II, III, and IV

    55. Which one of the following is a provision contained in the Constitution?
    A. The Supreme Court has the power to declare a law unconstitutional.
    B. The justices of the Supreme Court serve life terms.
    C. The Supreme Court consists of eight associate justices and one chief justice.
    D. Supreme Court justices cannot be impeached.
    E. The U.S. District Courts are courts of original jurisdiction in the federal judicial system.

    56. Which of the following groups is most likely to vote for the Democratic candidates for president?
    A. African Americans
    B. households in which no one is a member of a labor union
    C. males
    D. people over age 55
    E. females

    57. After a bill is introduced in the House of Representatives, what is the next step in the legislative process?
    A. The bill is introduced in the Senate because both houses of Congress must consider all proposed legislation.
    B. The bill is referred to a committee.
    C. The majority-party caucus votes whether or not to support the bill.
    D. The Speaker of the House decides whether to ignore the bill or take action.
    E. The bill dies unless a committee chair decides to “mark up” the bill.

    58. Which of the following is NOT a factor the president generally takes into account in nominating a person for Supreme Court justice?
    A. whether or not the person can be confirmed in the Senate
    B. the age of the person
    C. the political party the person belongs to
    D. whether public opinion will be favorable towards the person nominated
    E. whether the person has held elective office before

    59. Which of the following is an example of fiscal federalism?
    A. administering the national parks
    B. patrolling costal shipping lanes
    C. building new mass transit systems in urban areas
    D. administering veteran’s hospitals
    E. patrolling U.S. borders

    60. Which one of the following statements best describes the prevailing view of the power of the president today?
    A. The president is primarily an administrator carrying out the will of Congress.
    B. The president can take whatever action he feels appropriate to advance his policy goals as long as he doesn’t break the law or violate the Constitution.
    C. The president is the voice of the nation but cannot take any important actions on his own without the approval of Congress.
    D. The president is above the law and can pursue the policies he believes in even if that means he must break a law.
    E. The president, in a national crisis such as a war on terror, can take whatever actions he deems necessary even if it means violating the Constitution.
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    Answer Key, Section i (multiple choice)
    1. D
    2. A
    3. A
    4. C
    5. E
    6. D
    7. B
    8. E
    9. B
    10. E
    11. C
    12. A
    13. C
    14. E
    15. D
    16. B
    17. D
    18. D
    19. A
    20. C
    21. C
    22. E
    23. D
    24. B
    25. D
    26. B
    27. A
    28. E
    29. C
    30. A
    31. E
    32. C
    33. E
    34. B
    35. A
    36. E
    37. B
    38. A
    39. D
    40. C
    41. D
    42. C
    43. B
    44. E
    45. D
    46. A
    47. A
    48. C
    49. B
    50. D
    51. A
    52. E
    53. E
    54. D
    55. B
    56. A
    57. B
    58. E
    59. C
    60. B
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    Latest essay for this class... It had to be about an important Supreme Court Case and Civil Rights.

    New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
    [376 U.S. 254]
    Warren Court, Decided 9-0, 3/9/1964

    When eighteen-year old Emma Sullivan casually tweeted, "Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person, #heblowsalot,"[1] apparently she didn’t realize that under the Supreme Court case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, she might be held libel. Under the 1964 landmark decision, writing statements (or this case Tweeting), that tends to defame or tarnish a "public figure’s” reputation and are either knowingly false or made with a reckless disregard for their truthfulness, is libel. And yet, if you had mentioned that to Ms. Sullivan, she probably would have indigently responded by saying something like, “I can post whatever I want read First Amendment, you know… Freedom of Speech.” In past challenges of libel before the Supreme Court, both Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942)[2] and Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952)[3], the Court, decided that the libelous statements were outside the protection of the First Amendment. However, with New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the Court took a new view.

    On March 29, 1960, the New York Times ran a full page editorial advertisement from the "Committee to Defend Dr. King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South." titled, “Heed Their Rising Voices.”[4] The ad described the sit-in movement, Dr. Martin Luther King’s tax case, asked for donations to support King's legal defense, the students, and voter-registration. It also mentions the way the authorities have responded to Dr. King and the demonstrators, “Again and again the Southern violators have answered Dr. King's peaceful protests with intimidation and violence.”[5] However, the ad made no specific reference, or by name, as to who the authorities were. The ad also stated that "They have arrested [King] seven times..." However, he had only been arrested four times.[6] Unhappy about the way he and the police department were portrayed in the advertisement, Montgomery Public Safety commissioner, L. B. Sullivan, claimed that even though he was not personally named in the ad, it defamed him and filed a "libel" suit not only against four of the people who endorsed the ad but also the Times as they printed it.

    Mr. Sullivan won his suit against the all black defendants with an all white jury in an Alabama State Supreme Court during the height of the civil rights era. The Alabama judge also charged the jury in such a way that a finding for the plaintiff was a foregone conclusion. It may not have helped that at the demand of Alabama Governor John Patterson, the New York Times published a retraction of the advertisement. However, the Times did not apologize to Mr. Sullivan, only the Governor, so the Times appealed the case and it continued on to the Supreme Court level.

    Once there, the questions that needed to be decided were; could Sullivan sue the New York Times if they unknowingly publish an advertisement that contains a defamation of character and is a form of libel? And how does one know and how can one prove if an article was done with malice? Would the Court uphold Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, when it decided in 1925, that the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment was applicable to the States by reason of the Fourteenth Amendment?
    The Court ruled:

    The Court today announces a constitutional standard which prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with [p298] "actual malice" -- that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.[7]

    Justice William Brennan, in his majority opinion, used an oft-quoted substantiation for the decision, that:
    Debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.

    The New York Times won the Supreme Court decision 9 to 0 because Mr. Sullivan couldn’t prove that the advertisement was done with “actual malice.” This decision now encouraged other publications to report on the illegal actions of other officials without the fear of being held accountable for liable or being sued every time they print something negative about a public figure. It also established a precedent that State Courts cannot award damages unless there is proof of actual malice.

    This case had wide ranging implications as it did not just impact “public official.” In 1967, The Court broadened libel to extend to “public figures” including movie stars and athletes in cases like Curtis Publishing Co. v. Betts and Associated Press v. Walker, both in 1967. However, the Court stopped when it came to privet citizens with the 1974 case of Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.

    That brings us back to present day and the whether the case should be reexamined in light of the electronic age we live now live in. With the click of a few keys, with “reckless disregard” we type something and send it off for the entire Universe to see regardless of the truth or damage it might do to ones reputation. We are often vicious and careless and it does not matter if we are writing about a “public official”, “public figure”, or your parents who punished you too harshly and you decided to rant about it on Facebook. While the Court’s decision was made at a time in our county’s past to help protect the very speech we value and allow us to not be intimidated or bullied, it is now often used in just that way. It has also made it very difficult to sue someone when they have written false statements and because of the internet, even if you have proven your innocence, that writing will be out there forever. Because of the Court’s decision, reporters can write without fear of being sued and during times of elections, ads can be run with false or misleading claims. Corrections can always be printed, however they are hardly ever given the same exposure or coverage and the person they harmed never seems to get the justice that they might deserve. The decision seems to be a doubled edge sword, our nation wants to have Freedom, but at what cost?

    [1] Governor Brownback apologizes to Emma Sullivan over Twitter tiff

    [2] Chaplinsky v. State of New Hampshire | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

    [3] Beauharnais v. Illinois | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

    [4] Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement -- Heed Their Rising Voices

    [5] Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement -- Heed Their Rising Voices

    [6] Civil Rights & the Press

    [7] New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
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  10. #10
    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    My daughter has been compiling a list of vocabulary and terms from her reading assignments so that she can go over them again before her final. She has close to 1,000 of them now and I thought I would share them with the group. They are not only about government, but important US law cases, legal terms, economics and politics as well. Odd terms like:

    61. Attitudinal view - To vote according to your views. (Do as you see fit)

    447. Iron triangles—composed of bureaucratic agencies, interest groups, and congressional committees or subcommittees—have dominated some areas of domestic policymaking. Iron triangles are characterized by mutual dependency, in which each element provides key services, information, or policy for the others. Also see Issue Network

    494. Logrolling - Trading votes on pork barrel bills

    502. Malapportionment - Districts of unequal size with regard to population.

    508. Manifest destiny – A notion held by a nineteenth-century Americans that the United States was destined to rule the continent, from the Atlantic the Pacific.

    558. Narrowcasting - As opposed to the traditional “broadcasting,” the appeal to a narrow, particular audience by channels such as ESPN, MTV, and C-SPAN, which focus on a narrow particular interest.

    574. National supremacy - Constitutional doctrine that whenever conflict occurs between the constitutionally authorized actions of the national government and those of a state or local government, the actions of the federal government will prevail.

    599. Olson’s law of large groups - Advanced by Mancur Olson, a principle stating, “the larger the group, the further it will fall short of providing an optimal amount of a collective good.” See also interest group.

    You can download the list that she has as of now here: Master List of American Government / NSL Vocabulary WITH Definitions.

    Please feel free post any questions or comments.
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