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Street Law Chapter 1 WHAT IS LAW?
What is law? Laws are the rules and regulations made and enforced by government that regulate the conduct of people within a society Home: chores and bedtime School: rules about classroom behavior. Confusion and disorder with no laws. Government cannot function effectively unless its laws are respected by the people the laws are intended to govern. Society must be based on the rule of law. known in advance Created through democratic process
Problem 1.1 Students will complete problem 1.1 on page five in their notebooks independently at their seats. Upon completion of listing these 10 daily activities students will pair into their groups to share ideas and answer the questions associated with problem 1.1
Laws and Values Laws = society’s traditional ideas of right and wrong. Laws against murder reflect a moral belief that killing another person is wrong. Most people will condemn murder Not everything that is immoral is also illegal.
Our Legal System Should Achieve Many Goals: Protecting basic human rights Promoting fairness Helping resolve conflicts Promoting order and stability Promoting desirable social and economic behavior Representing the will of the majority Protecting the rights of minorities Balancing these are difficult
Laws must balance: rights with responsibilities the will of the majority with the rights of the minority, order with the need for basic human rights
Problem 1.2: The Shipwrecked Sailors Students will read the case of the shipwrecked Sailors quietly at their seats on page six. Upon completion of reading students will answer the questions independently. After the students independently answer the questions they will pair into their groups to share answers.
Laws can be based on: Moral Economic Political Social values As values change, so can laws
Moral Values Deal with the fundamental questions of right and wrong Little impact on a large group
Economic Values: Economic values deal with the accumulation, preservation, use, and distribution of wealth. Many laws promote economic values by encouraging certain economic decisions and discouraging others. Example: the law encourages home ownership by giving tax benefits to people who borrow money to pay for home. Example: Laws against shoplifting protect property and discourage stealing by providing the criminal penalty.
Political Values Reflect the relationship between government and individuals Laws making it easier to vote promote citizen participation in the political process
Social Values Concern issues that are important to society Affects more people than moral values Example : students are provided with free public Example: In the past society believe that school sports were not as important for girls as for boys. Today laws require schools to provide females with sports opportunities similar to those offered to males.
Many laws are a Combination of moral, economic, political, and social values: Laws against theft deal with the moral issue of stealing, the economic issue of protection of property, the political issue of how government punishes those who violate criminal statutes, and the social issue of respecting the property of others Laws can’t solve all problems In 1919, the U.S. constitution was amended to prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in this country. 14 years later it was repealed and constitution amended What constitutional amendment prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages? (please refer to pages 570 -599) What constitutional amendment repealed this amendment?
What value does the nations’ drug war impact? Moral, Economic, Social, or Political? Prison overpopulation Invisible punishments Civil liberties that accompany a felony conviction A record number of children growing up with the stigma of having a parent in prison Loss of emotional and financial support Disproportionate effects of imprisonment on low-income communities of color have collateral consequences on family formation and stability Spending on prisons at the state level is now competing directly with support for higher education and other vital social services.
Problem 1.3 Homework review on page 8
Human Rights Human Rights are the rights all people have just because they are human beings. Both government and private individuals can violate human rights. Human rights apply in people’s homes, schools, and workplaces. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) is a statement of basic human rights and stands for government that has been agreed to buy almost every country in the world. (please see page 600 – 607) First written an adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1948 under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, it proclaims that all people have the right to liberty, education, political and religious freedom, and economic well being.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Is not a binding treaty for the U.S. United Nations has established a system of international treaties and other legal mechanism to enforce human rights. These include two major treaties:1. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects rights such as freedoms of speech, religion, and press and the right to participate in government2. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights provides for rights such as the right to adequate education, food, housing, and health care.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Why don’t you think the U.S. government ratified the covenant on economic, social and culture rights?
Other important human rights treaties covering specific areas of human rights including: Genocide Discrimination against women And the rights of children Reservations: a legal means for making a provision less enforceable than it might otherwise be.
Problem 1.4 on page 10 Students will independently list 10 most important human rights that they believe should be guaranteed. They will pair into their groups to answer the rest of the questions.
Human Rights USA Problem 1.5 The United States was a strong supporter and promoter of the UDHR when it was written in 1948. However, the U.S. government is reluctant to let human rights treaties become enforceable law in the United States because, in some instances, they would supersede existing state and federal laws. Most human rights treaties provide rights not present in the U.S. Constitution, such as the rights to education, health care, housing, food, employment, and an adequate standard of living. These are referred to as social and economic rights. The constitution, with the bill of rights and other amendments, is a much stronger protector of political and civil rights than of economic, social, and cultural rights. (freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the right to vote, and freedom from some kinds of discrimination). Landmark cases have shaped social rights in the past. Example: Desegregation of public schools. Generally our government operates on a system of capitalism.
Problem 1.5 #1 The Constitution, with the Bill of Rights and other amendments, is a much stronger protector of political and civil rights (e.g., freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the right to vote, and freedom from some kinds of discrimination) than of economic, social, and cultural rights. 1. At issue is Article 18 of the UDHR, which states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the freedom to manifest one’s religion, either alone or in community with others, in teaching, practice, worship, and observance It can be argued that a teacher preventing prayer in a school is in violation of this article and the human rights contained therein. However, it can also be argued that allowing prayer, particularly in a public school, may constitute official endorsement of one religion over another and therefore violates the rights of others (including teachers) who do not wish to pray, or who belong to a religion that does not approve of public prayer or of the contents of the prayer.
Problem 1.5 #2 2. At issue are Article 25 and possibly Article 23 of the UDHR. Article 25 states that everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living, including food and other necessities, and that children are entitled to special care and assistance. In this situation, the child’s right to food is being violated. Article 23.3 guarantees that everyone who works has the right to compensation that ensures the worker and his/her family “an existence worthy of human dignity and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
Problem 1.5 #3 3. At issue are Articles 23 and 26 of the UDHR Article 23 sets out everyone’s right to work, and Article 26 provides a right to education. In the United States, education usually increases one’s likelihood of gaining employment and getting a higher- paying job. The quality of public schools varies. Often the better schools are in wealthy suburban counties, which can collect more local taxes than can many urban and rural counties. Do you think this is a human rights violation? What, if anything, can or should be done about this?
Problem 1.5 #4 4. The articles at issue here are Articles 2, 9, and 13. This scenario reflects a frequent occurrence after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Since September 11, Arab Americans and civil liberties organizations have complained that the government has discriminated against Arab Americans for no other reason than having an Arab name.
Problem 1.5 #5 5. At issue are Articles 1, 2, 7, 19, 22, 26, and 27 of the UDHR. This scenario is rich with human rights issues, especially considering current debates about English-only laws and bilingual education.
Problem 1.5 #6 6. At issue are Articles 2, 37 and 25 of the UDHR. Article 25 says that everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living for their health and wellbeing and to medical care. This right seems to have been violated for the woman in this example. The woman is being denied because she has no property and she is poor. This is a human rights violation. Article 3 guarantees the right to life, including good health, which the woman is being prevented from enjoying. Some of you may argue that the government or society cannot guarantee this right for everyone, that individuals must earn the necessary money themselves or get a job with health insurance. It is important to distinguish the question of whether a human right has been violated from the question of whose responsibility it is to protect, or pay for guaranteeing, a right. Whose role it is, if anyone’s, to provide medical care in our society?
Problem 1.5 #7 7. At issue are Articles 2, 3, 19, and 25 of the UDHR. This example raises the issue of homelessness, which relates to the human right to housing and living standards discussed in Article 25.
Problem 1.5 #8 8. This scenario may involve Article 18, freedom of religion; Article 26, the right to education; and Article 27, the right to participate in the cultural life of the community. While there is no definitive court ruling on this issue, the Muslim girl can argue that she is practicing her religion and following her culture, and that her right to education is infringed upon if she has to leave school because she cannot follow this rule. The school will say that the no-hats rule is to avoid disruption and that wearing the hajib will cause disruption. Many schools, however, make exceptions to their “no head covering” rules if a student can demonstrate he or she is wearing it for religious reasons.
Problem 1.5 #9 9. At issue are Articles 3, 77 and 27 of the UDHR. It is doubtful that any U.S. court would allow one person to assault another in the name of culture. Though the man can claim a cultural right to do this, in the United States a person’s right to personal security is considered more important than culture. b. when there is a conflict among rights, people evaluate which right is more important and proceed accordingly.
Human rights and writing laws Human rights are standards countries can use when writing laws. Human rights can also become law if they are included in a constitution or if the legislature of the country passes laws protecting or guaranteeing these rights
Culture Conflict vs. Human Rights Many of the human rights documents (including the UDHR) mention culture rights, and it is universally accepted that all people have a right to their own culture. Please see Afghan stoning article
Balancing Rights with Responsibilities Many laws also require people to act responsibly. Parents must provide their children with adequate food shelter, and clothing drivers must obey traffic laws All workers must pay taxes. Other critics of the emphasis on rights in the United States point out that just because you have the right to do (or not do) something does not mean it is the right thing to do.
Balancing Rights with Responsibilities Example: the first amendment sometimes gives people the right to say hateful and abuse things to others, as its function is to protect freedom of speech. However it does not make such speech right.
Balancing Rights with Responsibilities Distribute Hate Speech Article for class discussion
Problem 1.6 Please read “The Apathetic Bystanders” on page 13. Please answer the questions together with your group members. Be prepared to share your answers with the class.
Problem 1.6 (A) There are many possible reasons why the bystanders did not intervene. It is possible that some of them simply did not care. Others may have been selfish or were scared to get involved. Perhaps societal factors such as the violent images that people are exposed to in the media have led Americans to become callous about such things. social scientists tend to explain such behavior in terms of the "bystander effect." the more bystanders there are in a situation, the less likely any individual bystander will help. In such a situation there is a diffusion of responsibility as people assure themselves that one of the other bystanders will act.
Problem 1.6 (A) continued In one experiment done at New York University, for example, students were told that they would be asked to discuss personal issues in telephone conference groups of two, three, or six people. During each conference an experimenter, pretending to be one of the students in the conference call, faked an epileptic seizure. In the groups of two, in which the students thought they were the only people to hear the seizure, the students promptly sought aid for the victim 81 percent of the time. However, in the groups of six, in which each student thought that four other students also had heard the seizure, students acted only 31 percent of the time.
Problem 1.6 (A) continued Though many people could hear Kitty Genoveses screams, each bystander may simply have assumed that someone else would call the police.
Problem 1.6 (B) In general, failure to assist a person in need is not a crime or a tort unless the relationship between the bystander and the victim gives rise to a legal duty to act. For example, parents have a legal duty to help their children and spouses have a legal duty to help one another because of their relationship. An affirmative duty to act may also arise because one party has assumed responsibility, either by contract or otherwise. For example, a day care center would have a legal duty to call an ambulance if a child under its care had a seizure.
Problem 1.6 (B) However, a day care worker walking home from work would have no duty to help a child who was having a seizure on the side of the road. A lifeguard would have a legal duty to assist a drowning swimmer in the area he or she was guarding. However, a nearby swimmer who was a certified lifeguard could generally not be held criminally responsible for failing to help. A duty to help also exists where one per-son has caused the situation. For example, a negligent driver who hits another car, injuring the other driver, has a duty to call an ambulance for that other driver.
Problem 1.6 (C) The problem is an excellent illustration of how it is possible to be morally wrong while still acting within the confines of the law. Regardless of students individual backgrounds or values, most will accept that it is immoral to simply allow someone to die when it would take very little effort or risk to save the person. However, this point could be reasonably argued. Students should consider morality as a strong motivating factor in the creation of laws in a pluralistic society in which people have different values.
Problem 1.6 (D) Some states have considered "Good Samaritan" laws, which would require citizens to help others in need of assistance. Students should discuss the pros and cons of such proposals. They should consider how much aid the law might require witnesses to give (e.g., up to the point where there is no risk or unreasonable action placed on the bystanders). Would the type of victim (a child, for example) make a difference? Should the law impose civil or criminal liability on a bystander who fails to help?
Problem 1.6 Pros v. ConsPros Cons promote citizen too many legitimate responsibility and reasons for failing to morality act aid police by ensuring right of citizens to be that police will be left alone while notified of crimes in minding their own progress business & not actively may help save lives doing anything wrong
Kinds of Laws Laws fall into two major groups: criminal and civil. Criminal laws: regulate public conduct and set out duties owed to society. A criminal case is a legal action that can only be brought by the government against a person charged with committing a crime. Criminal laws have penalties, and offenders are imprisoned, fined, place under supervision, or punished in some other way.
(2) Kinds of Criminal Offenses In the U.S. legal system, criminal offenses are divided into felonies and misdemeanors. Felony: the penalty for a felony is a term of more than one year in prison. Misdemeanor: the penalty for a misdemeanor is a term of less than one year in prison.
Civil Laws Regulate relations between individuals or groups of individuals. A civil action: is a lawsuit that can be brought by a person who feels wronged or injured by another person. Courts may award the injured person money Make the injured party whole again.
Actions can be both Civil and Criminal violations Sometimes behavior can violate both civil and criminal laws and can result and two court cases. A criminal case is brought by the government against a defendant, the person accused of committing the crime. A civil case is brought by the plaintiffs – the person or company harmed – against the defendant.
Introduce BL1-2 handout “An Introduction to the Civil Justice and Criminal Justice Systems
The O.J. Simpson Case: Criminal & Civil System Violations The famous football star player O.J. Simpson was prosecuted in connection with the deaths of his former wife, Nicole brown Simpson, and her boyfriend, Ron Coleman. The Los Angeles District Attorney was a prosecutor in the criminal case. In order to win a conviction, the DA (District Attorney) had to prove that O.J. Simpson was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if the jury (or judge in a case tried without a jury) has any of reasonable doubts about the defendant’s guilt, then it must vote not to convict. The jury’s verdict in Simpson’s criminal case was not guilty.
The O.J. Simpson Case: Criminal & Civil System Violations Several months later, the parents of Ron Goldman brought a civil suit against O.J. Simpson to recover damages resulting from the wrongful death of their son. In a civil case, the plaintiff wins by convincing the jury (or the judge in a case tried without a jury) by a preponderance of the evidence. The jury or judge needs only to decide if it is more likely than not that the plaintiff’s complaint is true. Plaintiff’s burden of proof is 51% of evidence to the defendant’s 49% (simple majority of evidence presented). This is a lower requirement for proof than the beyond a reasonable doubt standards used in criminal cases. The reason for the different standards of proof is that a defendant loses money in a civil case, but can suffer imprisonment or even the death penalty as a result of criminal conviction.
Problem 1.7: Matt & Kenji page 15. Students will read the story and answer the questions independently. After the students read and answer the questions they will pair into their groups to compare answers for class discussion.
Our Constitutional Framework (570 – 599 U.S. Constitution) The U.S. constitution is the highest law the land. It sets forth the basic frame work of our government. It lists the government’s powers the limits on those powers people’s freedoms that cannot be taken away by the government.
Our Constitutional Framework (570 – 599 U.S. Constitution) Individual states were reluctant to give up power to the national government. As a result, the constitution created a national government of limited powers, with authority to pass laws only in the areas specifically listed in article 1 of the constitution.
Our Constitutional Framework (570 – 599 U.S. Constitution) Separation of powers among the three branches may be the most important concept in the United States constitution. The executive branch, which includes the president and Federal agencies, is primarily responsible for enforcing the law. However, the executive branch often issues rules and executive orders that have the force of law. The legislative branch, or Congress, uses lawmaking power when it passes laws or statutes.
Our Constitutional Framework (570 – 599 U.S. Constitution) The judicial branch or judiciary –the courts- clarifies, and in some instances establishes laws through its rulings. The three branches of government are independent, but each has the power to restrain the other branches in a system of checks and balances. The system was designed to prevent one branch from becoming too powerful and abusing its power.
Our Constitutional Framework (570 – 599 U.S. Constitution) Another check is the president’s power to veto (refuse to approve) laws passed by Congress. Judicial review enables a court to declare unenforceable any law passed by Congress or a state legislature that conflicts with the nation’s highest law, the constitution. The courts can declare a law unconstitutional : The government has passed a law which the constitution does not give it the power to pass The government has passed a law that violates someone’s rights.
Our Constitutional Framework The division of power between the states in the Federal government is known as federalism. The principle of limited government is also reflected in the bill of rights, the first 10 amendments to the constitution. The bill of rights defines and guarantees the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans
Constitutional Framework The U.S. constitution and most state constitutions are difficult to change. The U.S. constitution may be changed in two ways:1. A proposed amendment must be approved either by a 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress or2. A convention called by 2/3 states.
See Discussion Questions 1-5 TM Determine the Constitutionality of Laws