The Bill of Rights and Liberty

Explores the unenumerated rights reserved to the people with reference to the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, with a focus on rights including travel, political affiliation, and privacy. Probes the ways the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments have been used to claim rights to personal liberty.

How Does the Constitution Protect Liberty?

Clock 70 minutes

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 lesson explores the nature of these unnamed rights and examines the arguments around who should interpret them, judges or the people.

Founding Principles

Inalienable / Natural Rights image

Inalienable / Natural Rights

Freedoms which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.

Individual Responsibility image

Individual Responsibility

Individuals must take care of themselves and their families and be vigilant to preserve their liberty.

Liberty image

Liberty

Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, the government does not have the authority to limit freedom.

Overview

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. What are these rights that they thought worth protecting under the Ninth? Is it appropriate for judges to make the decision about the nature and content of these rights, or should be it up to the people through their elected representatives?

Objectives

Students will:

  • Identify some enumerated and implied rights.
  • Summarize why the Founders included the Ninth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.
  • Understand the impact of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments on liberty.
  • Analyze how an invasion of privacy affects an individual.
  • Evaluate liberty cases in the courts.
  • Evaluate the balancing of the right of personal liberty with public policy.

Materials

  • Key Terms
  • Handout A: Background Essay—How Does the Constitution Protect Liberty?
  • Handout B: Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) Brief
  • Handout C: Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) Unanimous Opinion
  • Handout D: Newspaper Story Guideline

Standards

  • NCHS (5-12): Era III, Standards 1B, 3A, 3B
  • CCE (9-12): IIB1, VB1
  • NCSS: Strands 2, 4, 5, 6, and 10

 

Background 10 minutes the day before

Have students read Handout A: Background Essay—How Does the Constitution Protect Liberty?, and write a one paragraph response to the question: How do the Constitution and the Bill of Rights protect liberty?

Warm-up 10-15 min.

Have students read Handout B: Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) Brief and answer the questions that follow.

Activities 40-50 min. total

(20-30 minutes class time, 20 minutes research time)

  1. Review the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.
  2. Divide students into four groups.
    • ƒGroup 1: The Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
    • ƒƒGroup 2: Hill Military Academy
    • ƒƒGroup 3: Representatives for the Governor Pierce, the attorney general, and the county district attorney.
    • ƒƒGroup 4: The Supreme Court
  3. Using Handout B and any other research materials available, have students research the case. (Note: The teacher may want to print the arguments from www.oyez.com for the students to use in while researching.)
    1. Groups 1-3 should research the arguments for their sides.
    2. Group 4 should research the case as a whole and determine which argument makes the most sense.
      1. The students should base their arguments on the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
    3. Have Groups 1-3 share their arguments with Group 4.
      1. Group 4 should make its decision based on the arguments and the constitutionality of the law. Its members should announce their decision to the group.
  4. Have students read Handout C: Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) Unanimous Opinion.
    1. Have a class discussion about the opinion. Ask these questions:
      1. Did the Courts’ ruling match Group 4’s decision? How was the ruling similar? How was it different?
      2. Do you think the Court’s decision was correct? Why or why not?

Homework

  1. Have students complete Handout D: Newspaper Story Guideline in which they will write a newspaper article about the Ninth Amendment.
  2. Students should design a security policy for their school that protects public and private property, students’ safety, and also protects the rights of the population of the school.
    1. What problems do they encounter while writing the policy?
    2. Do they make any sacrifices of security or rights in the final policy?
    3. Have the students discuss answers to the questions above in small groups or as a class.

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