What is the role of the Supreme Court in protecting civil liberties?

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mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Supreme Court plays an important role in protecting our civil liberties. When people believe their civil liberties have been violated, they can take their case to court. If the lower courts rule against a person, they can ask the Supreme Court to hear the case. There have been many instances where the Supreme Court has ruled that civil liberties have been violated. In Miranda v Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled that a person must be read his or her rights when arrested. If they aren’t read their rights, any statements made by a person can’t be used against that person in court. In Mapp v Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled that evidence couldn’t be used in a case if the evidence is improperly collected. In the Abington School District v Schempp case, the Supreme Court ruled that schools couldn’t have regular bible readings done in school.

The Supreme Court also protects our civil liberties by declaring acts of government unconstitutional. In the New York Times Co. v United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment to the Constitution protected the publication of the Pentagon Papers. President Nixon didn’t want these papers published, but the Supreme Court ruled otherwise. If Congress or a state legislature passes a law that violates the freedoms guaranteed to us in the Constitution, the Supreme Court may declare that law unconstitutional. The Brown v Board of Education case ruled that the separate but equal laws were unconstitutional as it applied to education.

The Supreme Court plays an important role in protecting our civil liberties.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Supreme Court plays an important part in protecting civil liberties. The Court is the institution that can overturn acts of the elected branches if it believes that these acts violate the Constitution.  In this capacity, the Court can try to prevent the elected branches from violating civil liberties.  An example of this occurred in Boumediene v. Bush, for example, when the Court struck down laws that suspended the right to habeas corpus for people who were deemed to be unlawful combatants in the war on terror.  When the Supreme Court takes actions like this, it is (arguably) fulfilling its role as a protector of civil liberties.