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Tinker v. Des Moines | Homework Help from the Bill of Rights Institute

Why did a subtle act of protest against a foreign war reach the Supreme Court? In 1965, students John and Mary Beth Tinker wore black armbands to school to protest the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, despite the Des Moines school district prohibiting such an act. The Tinkers sued the district for violating their First Amendment rights, and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor in a 7-2 decision. While subsequent Supreme Court rulings narrowed the scope of free expression rights at school, Tinker v. Des Moines remains a landmark case that has defined First Amendment rights for students.

SCHH- GideonVideo

Gideon v. Wainwright | Homework Help from the Bill of Rights Institute

Does an individual have a right to a lawyer, regardless of the crime he or she is charged with? In 1961, Clarence Gideon was arrested and charged with breaking and entering and petty larceny in Panama City, Florida. His request for a state-provided defense attorney was denied since Florida law only required doing so for capital offense cases. After Gideon was sentenced to 5 years in prison, he argued that Florida violated the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the right to counsel. The Supreme Court heard Gideon’s case and ruled in a 7-0 decision that the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of an attorney applies to states through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.


Roe v. Wade | Homework Help from the Bill of Rights Institute

Do women have a right to privacy when deciding whether to have an abortion? In 1969, a woman under the alias “Jane Roe” challenged a Texas law that outlawed abortions. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court, where Roe argued that a woman’s right to privacy in having an abortion is protected by the Constitution. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled the right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. To this day, the ruling in Roe v. Wade remains one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions.


McDonald v. Chicago | Homework Help from the Bill of Rights Institute

Does the Second Amendment prevent a city from effectively outlawing handgun ownership? In 2008, Otis McDonald attempted to purchase a handgun for self-defense purposes in a Chicago suburb. However, the city of Chicago had banned handgun ownership in 1982 when it passed a law that prevented issuing handgun registrations. McDonald argued this law violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause as well as the Due Process Clause. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that McDonald’s Second Amendment right to bear arms was protected at the state and local level by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


The Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy | BRI’s Homework Help Series

Our latest Homework Help Evidence of History video tells the story of the rise and fall of Senator Joseph McCarthy, a fierce partisan and demagogue whose battles against Communism in early 1950s America utilized the new medium of television to garner public attention. Preying upon the public's fear of communism within the U.S. government, he hurled accusations against numerous political enemies often with little or no evidence, and with scant regard to the principles of due process, free speech, and liberty. The new medium of television, which helped his meteoric political rise, would ultimately play a key role in his undoing.


African Americans in the Gilded Age | BRI’s Homework Help Series

The first in our new Institute of History Series of Homework Help videos provides a general overview of the experience of African Americans during the pivotal years of the Gilded Age, from the 1860s to the early 1900s. Despite the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution after the Civil War, which abolished slavery and granted citizenship and voting rights to African American men, millions of African Americans across the nation still faced an uphill struggle for equality and civil rights. Political disenfranchisement was widespread and segregation in the form of "Jim Crow" laws affected nearly every facet of public and private life in the South. Many African Americans migrated from the South to the North and West during this period. This era also saw the rise of dozens of notable African American civil rights leaders including Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Du Bois. Groups like the N.A.AC.P. were also established during this period to fight for the expansion of liberty and equality for African Americans.


The Origins of Partisanship | BRI’s Homework Help Series

This latest installment of our Homework Help Institute of History series addresses the origins of partisanship in the United States. In the late 18th Century, the new nation was at risk of being torn apart as factions developed between Federalists and Anti-Federalists whose differences over the nature and structure of the new government played out in pamphlets, newspaper essays, state ratifying conventions, in taverns, and on street corners. Some compromise was reached with the ratification of The Bill of Rights, but differences over policy continued to play out among factions and the Federalists and Democratic-Republican parties formed. This video is intended as a general overview of this period of U.S. History, and a springboard for a deeper exploration of the various political disputes of the late 1700s and early 1800s.