Lecture Notes, March 3

Review of things covered Monday:

  • "Nowheresville": If you take away people's rights, you lose the idea that your rights can't be taken away from you.
      • A rights-holder creates duties/laws in society.
      • Hypothesis: All duties correlate to laws; all laws correlate to duties.
      • Rights are an inherent limit to the powers of the sovereign.
      • Liberal/Democratic Theory: Rights are ways that individuals legislate themselves. Rights check the power of the sovereign. When the sovereign recognizes/enforces rights, the are simply backing up a law that the individual creates.

New Notes:

  • Do we really have the right to free speech?
      • Facebook: Can what we say on it affect our lives?
          • Yes. Academia does not promote facebook because underage students with pictures suggesting that they were drinking can be punished; etc. An example was given of a High School student who was expelled for underage drinking because she was holding a Styrofoam cup, however there was no evidence it being an alcoholic beverage.
      • We lose our rights when we infringe on the rights of other citizens.
      • It seems that churches aren't allowed to make comments against homosexuals, however liberals seem to have all rights to make negative comments against churches/Christians.
          • Churches are charities. The law says charities have no right to political speech.
  • Do we have rights if we don't fight for them?
      • In general, rights have been expanded. Rights are a way to check powerful governments, so if rights are being expanded then it suggests that the government is getting more powerful.
  • Fourth amendment: Courts can't engage in unlawful search and seizure; in laymen's terms, police officers need a warrant.
      • You can waive this right by giving police officers permission to enter your house/car/etc.
      • Why do we have this rule?
          • Whether you're innocent or guilty, you still have rights.
          • If police officers are legally allowed to enter guilty people's homes without warrants, there's the suggestion that the innocent will be the next group to have their homes invaded. However there is a great number of Americans who do not know this.
          • It serves as the main check on the power and discretion of law enforcement officers.
      • Is this a good check if law enforcement officers can get around it?
          • It doesn't matter, if you're innocent you have nothing to to hide, nothing to worry about.
      • It becomes beneficial for both sides of a legal argument (both prosecution and defense) to tell their side of the story to make it revolve around 4th amendment issues.
  • Every once in a while there appears a conflict between law enforcement officers and people who could be law breakers. In what scenarios does this law officers vs. law breakers conflict occur?
      • Driving, perceived underage drinking, facebook, security checks, etc.
      • These things happen so often that it would be a bad idea to have total enforcement of all laws.
      • Law enforcement officers often use smaller crimes (reckless driving, speeding, public drunkenness, etc) to screen for bigger crimes (drug use, etc) that could be happening.

Closing Thought:
In order to have total enforcement of all laws and get rid of a lot of the smaller laws that are used to screen for bigger crimes, we would have to allow the government to violate a lot of our personal rights.

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