The Bill of Rights


You learned in the lesson that the Constitution protects individual rights that affect most citizens’ daily lives. You also learned that the government must balance the rights and needs of individuals with the needs of the public. Limitations to individual rights are most obvious during a time of crisis.Imagine your area is in a state of emergency and you are concerned about the balance of liberty and security as people try to return to their normal lives, recover what was lost, and rebuild what was destroyed. Compose an email you could send to elected officials to voice your concerns. Your email should include positions on two of the potential issues related to civil liberties found below.


  1. Use this Template for your email. Write an introductory paragraph for your email that explains why rights are not absolute. Include how the Constitution safeguards and limits individual rights.
  2. Imagine that the following situations have occurred in your community following the disaster. Select two of the following situations to address and evaluate in your email:
    • ????© 2012 BananaStock/ThinkstockThe government suspended the right of habeas corpus (the right to see a judge after arrest to determine if imprisonment is lawful).
    • The government forced people to evacuate from their homes.
    • The press accessed the disaster area and published a story in a national newspaper about the event.
    • The government allowed federal and state troops to be quartered in private residences to assist residents and protect order.
    • Citizens were denied the right to bring legally owned firearms to storm shelters.
    • The government made certain dangerous areas off-limits, which prevented residents from accessing their homes and personal property.
    • Prisoners were kept in prisons that lacked power, supplies, and plumbing during the emergency.
    • The federal and state courts postponed scheduled criminal and civil trials due to the emergency.
    • The government prevented the press from publishing graphic photos of victims of the natural disaster to protect the privacy of the victim’s family.
    • The federal government stated that local and state governments are solely responsible for the disaster recovery efforts and that it will not be providing assistance.
  3. Once you have chosen the concerns you wish to address, compose a well-written response to each situation with the following information:
    • the Constitutional amendment that relates to the situation
    • arguments that could be made for or against the action that took place
    • your position on the situation and the reasons you think officials should agree with you
  4. Save your email and check it for spelling and grammar.

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