24 resources available

Video

The story about the struggle over the Bill of Rights is told in this documentary, which explains how these individual freedoms that often are taken for granted today were controversial among the founding fathers and how they were eventually ratified. Ten short videos address each of the amendments.

Handout

This lesson explores the four Supreme Court cases known as the Guantanamo cases. These cases are examples of how the Court, the president and even Congress fought to balance national security and civil liberties during the war on terror, a war that continues to this day.

Handout

In this lesson, students evaluate the consequences of past events and decisions related to the Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States. They consider the challenges involved when trying to balance civil liberties and national security during threatening times.

Video

One of our oldest human rights, habeas corpus safeguards individual freedom by preventing unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment. This documentary examines habeas corpus and the separation of powers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks through four Guantanamo Bay cases: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Boumediene v. Bush.

Video

This documentary explores the landmark case Korematsu v. U.S. (1944) concerning the constitutionality of presidential executive order 9066 during World War II that gave the U.S. military the power to ban thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry from areas considered important to national security.

Book

Rights are expressions of individual liberty. The history of America is, on the whole, a story of individual liberty and rights. In 1776, the signers of the Declaration of Independence boldly proclaimed their belief in the right of equality—“all men are created equal”—and in the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Website

The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 and is dedicated to “exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” It is a nonprofit legal clinic directly affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and was founded by attorneys Peter J. Neufeld and Barry C. Scheck.

Website

The Death Penalty Information Center is a nonprofit organization that publishes reports and conducts press briefings on issues concerning capital punishment. The center says that it does not have a position on the death penalty “in the abstract.” However, the center notes that “we have been critical … of various aspects of the death penalty in the United States.” The website highlights problems with the way capital punishment is used.

Timeline

This timeline provides milestones for events and U.S. Supreme Court cases related to civil liberties.

Website

Project Vote Smart is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that gathers and organizes information on candidates for political office. Vote Smart seeks to discover where candidates stand on any number of issues by scouring public voting records, public statements and biographical information, by monitoring ratings of candidates given by more than 100 competing special-interest groups, and by sending its own detailed questionnaires to candidates through its National Political Awareness Test.

Website

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the organization, founded in 1920, is the “nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.”

Website

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights says it is “the nation’s premier civil rights coalition,” and it has “coordinated the national legislative campaign on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.” It was founded in 1950 by A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and Arnold Aronson of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. Today, the LCCR has more than 180 member organizations, including People for the American Way, AARP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO and constituent unions, the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Organization for Women.

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is a professional organization of more than 10,000 immigration attorneys and legal professors. Its members represent a variety of immigrants, including asylum seekers, entertainment personalities, families that wish to bring relatives to the United States and companies wanting to sponsor foreign workers’ entry to the United States.

Book

A Nation at war with a formidable enemy is a nation at risk. National security becomes a paramount concern of the government, which may, under certain conditions, decide to subordinate the constitutional rights of some individuals to the collective safety of the people.

Book

During a national crisis, such as the Civil War, there is inevitably severe tension between these two imperatives of constitutional government: maintaining both the security of the nation and the security of civil liberties for every individual within the nation.

Website

Brookings is the oldest and one of the best-known of the Washington-based think tanks, tracing its origins back to 1916 and founder Robert Somers Brookings, a wealthy St. Louis businessman. Its scholars generally have very strong academic credentials.Reports from the institution and its scholars can be viewed by research programs, policy centers and research projects. They fall mainly into the categories of competitiveness, education, migration, health care or energy security.

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The Urban Institute says it is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization” focusing on “the social, economic, and governance problems facing the nation.” It has its roots in the Great Society era of government anti-poverty programs. The institute was chartered by a blue-ribbon commission assembled by President Lyndon Johnson to examine problems and issues faced by the nation’s urban populations.

Website

The Library of Congress houses the Congressional Research Service, “the public policy research arm of the United States Congress.” The CRS performs independent, nonpartisan and objective research for members of Congress and their staffs on a nearly endless array of issues. The Librarian of Congress appoints the director of the service, which has a large, knowledgeable staff and receives a sizable budget.

Website

Founded in 2003 by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, the Center for American Progress describes itself as “progressive.” Many of its experts once worked in Democratic presidential administrations or for Democrats on Capitol Hill. According to its website, the center seeks to “combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.”

Website

The Cato Institute describes its work as broadening public-policy debate on “individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.” For the last decade, Cato has supported Social Security reform through private accounts and championed deregulation of the drug industry. Cato was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane, a chartered financial analyst and former vice president of Alliance Capital Management Group. Most of Cato’s funding comes from private foundations and individuals, with only a small amount from corporations.

Website

This independent, nonprofit website lays out the arguments on both sides of a host of controversial issues. Its mission statement: “We promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship.”