Did you see our recent lesson plan on Snyder v. Phelps (2011), the Westboro Baptist Church funeral protest case? The case and its First Amendment implications caused very heated debates–debates that managed to leave Albert Snyder, the soldier’s father and the plaintiff, and Julie Francis, the soldier’s mother, on opposite sides of the issue. In the York Daily Record, Francis wrote a letter to her local paper to say that she did not support the lawsuit and that:
“I am glad free speech prevailed. I love my son and as a Marine, Matthew was entrusted with defending and protecting our rights, liberties and Constitution. I do believe our blessed Matt would feel the same way.”
In other Bill of Rights-related news, the Obama administration proposed new intellectual property regulations this week that would make streaming illegal content over the internet punishable as a felony and authorize wiretaps to prove suspected copyright infringement. The white paper brings up a tension between enforcing property rights and privacy, or the rights of the accused. Should government have the right to wiretap individuals suspected of copyright or trademark infringement? How should the intellectual property rights of music and media producers be protected?
Finally, a bill in Ohio to prevent teenagers from using tanning beds without a physician’s prescription is set to be discussed this month. While proponents of the bill claim to protect minors from the health risks of UV ray exposure, the opponents of the bill said:
”It will only send them outdoors into an uncontrolled environment, with no supervision, no trained staff, no parental consent required, where they are more likely to be over exposed or sunburned — which is what these doctors say they are trying to avoid.”
What do you think? Should the government be allowed to intervene into personal decisions if they may have a negative effect on an individual’s health? How is protecting minors from potential health risks from tanning similar to (or different from) regulating drinking soda? Regulating playing of ice hockey? It is clear that minors have different rights protected than adults do, so where should a line be drawn?
What are you reading this week? What’s the latest news about the Constitution in your area?
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