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Bill of Rights in Debate

Many of the issues covered by Issues & Controversies deal with constitutional questions; however, the various sides in a debate often interpret what the Constitution says differently. Following is a list of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution (the Bill of Rights) and links to Issues & Controversies articles in which those amendments play a role in the debate.


First Amendment

blue arrow Do super PACs—organizations that can accept or spend unlimited amounts of money promoting or attacking political candidates—allow corporations to express their freedom of expression rights under the First Amendment? See Super PACs

blue arrow Is it fair to force cigarette companies to place large, graphic warning labels on the cigarette packages they are trying to sell, or does that violate their First Amendment right to freedom of expression? See Cigarette Warning Labels

blue arrow Should the government criminalize and prosecute cyberbullies for what they do and say online, or would such actions violate the First Amendment right to freedom of speech? See Prosecuting Cyberbullies

blue arrow Should organizations trying to persuade terrorist groups to renounce violence in pursuit of their goals be prosecuted for aiding and abetting terrorists, or are they merely exercising their right to free speech by working with such groups? See Material Support for Terrorists

blue arrow Should private corporations be given the same free speech rights as individuals, including the freedom to spend unlimited amounts of money on federal election campaigns? See Corporate Political Campaigning

blue arrow Does the First Amendment give public school students the right to express themselves freely, without fear of punishment from school officials, except in rare, extreme cases? See Students' Free-Speech Rights

blue arrow Does requiring public school students to wear uniforms violate their constitutional right of self-expression? See School Uniforms

blue arrow Does the First Amendment right of freedom of speech permit the desecration of the American flag? See Flag Desecration

blue arrow Does the First Amendment guarantee of free speech entitle hip-hop artists to sing about anything they want? Or should the record industry exercise greater control over the music it releases for public consumption? See Hip-Hop Culture

Second Amendment

blue arrow Are stricter gun-control laws compatible with the Second Amendment right to bear arms? See Gun Control Laws

blue arrow In the wake of several high-profile mass shootings by unstable individuals, should gun control laws be toughened, or are they good enough and merely need to be better enforced? See Gun Control Reform

blue arrow Does the Second Amendment give individuals the right to own guns, or is it more of a collective right? See Second Amendment

blue arrow Does requiring gun background checks interfere with Americans' Second Amendment rights? See Gun Background Checks

blue arrow Does the Second Amendment protect Americans' rights to use guns in self-defense? See Self-Defense Laws

blue arrow Is a ban on assault weapons a violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, or does it keep the public safe by keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals? See Assault Weapons

Third Amendment

blue arrow Does the Third Amendment help form the grounds for a right to personal privacy? See Social Networking and Privacy

Fourth Amendment

blue arrow Does the use of unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, to monitor suspected criminals in the U.S. violate those suspects' privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment? See Drones

blue arrow Does using global positioning system (GPS) devices to track suspects' whereabouts violate the right to privacy implied in the Fourth Amendment, or is it a necessary law enforcement tool? See Tracking Technology and Civil Liberties

blue arrow Does allowing the U.S. government unrestricted access to Internet-based communications systems violate the right to privacy implied in the Fourth Amendment, even if such access would enable the government to uncover potential terrorist plots against the U.S.? See Wiretapping the Internet

blue arrow Does using racial profiling in immigration law enforcement violate the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures? See Immigrant Profiling by Local Law Enforcement

blue arrow Does mandatory drug testing violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure? See Drug Testing

blue arrow Does the USA Patriot Act, which gives broad powers to the government and law enforcement in fighting terrorism, violate the Fourth Amendment by making it easier for authorities to conduct searches without suspicion of wrongdoing? See Civil Liberties; USA Patriot Act

blue arrow Do employee monitoring techniques violate the Fourth Amendment's guarantee of a person's right to security against unreasonable searches? See Workplace Privacy

Fifth Amendment

blue arrow Are so-called Miranda warnings, informing those arrested of their rights, directly required by the Fifth Amendment, which protects people from being forced to provide incriminating evidence about themselves? See Miranda Rights

blue arrow Should noncitizens who are arrested in the U.S. be notified of the right to remain silent so as not to further incriminate themselves? See Constitutional Rights for Noncitizens

blue arrow Would permitting the attorney general to order a federal investigation into hate crimes in cases where it was determined that local authorities did an inadequate job in prosecuting the crimes violate the Fifth Amendment's "double jeopardy" clause? See Hate-Crime Laws

Sixth Amendment

blue arrow Does the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens suspected of ties to terrorism violate those citizens' Sixth Amendment rights? See Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens

blue arrow Does the use of therapy dogs to help comfort victims of child abuse testifying in court violate the rights of defendants under the Sixth Amendment to a fair and impartial jury? See Courtroom Dogs

blue arrow Should noncitizens who are arrested in the U.S. have the right to be defended by an attorney in court? See Constitutional Rights for Noncitizens

blue arrow Do jurors, under the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of trial by jury in criminal cases, have the right to acquit a defendant even though all evidence points to his or her guilt? See Jury Nullification

blue arrow Does allowing the use of evidence from witnesses who are not called to the stand (hearsay) in military tribunals violate the Sixth Amendment? See Military Tribunals

blue arrow Are "enemy combatants" captured in the war on terrorism entitled to Sixth Amendment protections, which guarantee a fair trial? See Detainees' Rights

Seventh Amendment

blue arrow Is the present-day jury system the fairest way of ensuring a person gets a proper trial, as guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment, or is the system in need of reform? How do various issues involving juries affect the right to a fair trial? See Jury Nullification; Juror Anonymity

Eighth Amendment

blue arrow Does the use of the death penalty violate the Eighth Amendment's ban of cruel and unusual punishment? See Capital Punishment

blue arrow Do three-strikes laws, which dramatically increase penalties for those convicted of a third felony, violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment? See Mandatory Minimum Sentences

blue arrow Does solitary confinement for prisoners constitute cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment? See Solitary Confinement

blue arrow Do sentencing juveniles to death, or to life in prison without parole, constitute cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment? Or are they acceptable punishments for certain offenses? See Juvenile Death Penalty and Sentencing Juveniles to Life Without Parole

blue arrow Does the current lethal injection procedure, by which many of those who are executed may die a painful death, fit the description of "cruel and unusual" punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment? See Lethal Injection

Ninth Amendment

blue arrow What are some of the rights not explicitly referred to in the Constitution that might be protected by the Ninth Amendment? See Abortion, Animal Rights, Birth Control Funding, Gay Rights and Marriage, Smoking Bans and the Tobacco Industry

blue arrow Do rights protected by the Constitution change and evolve over time, especially those not specifically enumerated in the document? See Living Constitution

Tenth Amendment

blue arrow Are many of the powers assumed by the government over the years a violation of states' rights as ensured under the 10th Amendment? See States' Rights