Bell Ringers
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By sunshinecavalluzzi
On January 5, 2019

Bell Ringer: Civil Liberties

"How We Protect the Nation and Protect Free Speech Remains at the Core of our National Debate"

Jamil Jaffer, Founder and Law Professor of the George Mason University National Security Institute, discusses the conflict between free speech, free press, and other civil liberties guarantees and national security in the cases of the publication of the Pentagon Papers and the Edward Snowden leaks


"Civil Liberties" is a broad umbrella term referring to individual freedoms and guarantees that are largely protected from arbitrary infringement by the government. Limits on civil liberties generally require a compelling government interest and a respect of individuals' due process guarantees - for instance, the government can limit speech that presents a clear and present danger, or can conduct a limited search without a warrant pursuant to lawful arrest. The rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are largely classified as civil liberties. Many landmark Supreme Court cases deal with the efforts of our government to effectively balance civil liberties guarantees with police powers (the government's ability to act to secure societal health, safety, and welfare).

Bell Ringer Assignment

  • What is the conflict between freedom of speech and national security articulated by Professor Jaffer? What role do newspapers play in that conflict?
  • How did the above conflict materialized during the Vietnam War? How did the Supreme Court rule in that case?
  • List at least four civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to criminal defendants. How, according to Baldacci, do failures to safeguard those rights potentially create a “slippery slope”?
  • AP Government - Questions to Consider: How do the holdings in Wisconsin v. Yoder and Roe v. Wade reflect efforts to balance civil liberties and police powers? Which additional landmark SCOTUS cases reflect civil liberties questions? How is a judicial philosophy of original intent with regards to civil liberties impacted by modern technological developments?

Additional Resources



    • 1st Amendment
    • Bill Of Rights
    • Civil Liberties
    • Constitution
    • Freedom Of Speech
    • Police Powers
    • Right To Privacy
    • Rights Of The Accused


    AP U.S. Government Key TermsCivil Rights & Civil LibertiesCriminal Law & Justice


    Middle SchoolHigh School