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Essay on Understanding and Relevancy of Civil Liberties

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After spending time through this course reading and studying for the exams, there have been a few topics that have piqued my interest and led me to read them a little more in-depth. Though since we aren’t done with the semester there might be a few more interesting topics. Each of the chosen topics had some type of relevancy within our lifetime making it easier to comprehend. The first of the topics would be the understanding and relevancy of civil liberties, particularly the contemporary political problems associated with, something that will be explored later in the paper. Secondly, would be the role of the president and its related responsibilities. The last topic chosen would be about congress and its significance within our government.

Starting off with the first of the topics would be civil liberties. So, the common misconception is that civil liberties and civil rights are essentially the same thing, the fact is though they might be quite similar they are in fact two different things. Civil rights is the basic rights to be free from any unequal treatment based on race, gender, or religion. Meanwhile, civil liberties guarantee our basic rights through the Bill of Rights and its associated amendments. The ideas of civil liberties are inspired by John Locke’s quote “Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” (Locke 191) thus bringing about the idea of inalienable rights that cannot be taken away. Under the Bill of Rights, civil liberties are categorized under three different categories, individual freedoms, criminal activity, and procedural. Often these interpretations of civil liberties can be misread or misinterpreted, one such incident was by Thomas Jefferson when he has said that “all men were created equal”. This was a problem as this would eventually lead to problems for both minority groups and women arguing against that “men” clause. These other various interpretations have led to many disputes, some even making it to Supreme Court case, in one such case, the idea of privacy was never exactly mentioned in either the Bill of Rights or the Constitution but rather a very abstract idea of it. This brought about the case of Griswold v Connecticut where the first mention of privacy was discussed in court.

The second of topic chosen to be discussed is the role of the presidency. To talk about its roles and responsibilities we need to start from the beginning, with the creation of the president. In 1787 when delegates from the newly founded United States of America wanted some form of leadership that had some of the authoritative power but was kept in check by other governing bodies, this would be known as checks and balances. The role of the president isn’t exactly defined but rather changes in response to the political environment. But the defined rules include eligibility to become president which includes being 35 years old and being a natural-born citizen of the United States with at least 14 years of residency. The person must then be chosen as a candidate from their party and actually make it through the elections. This election process consists of a caucus and a primary, these are done to narrow down the candidate selections. Finally, they must gain a majority vote consisting of 270 votes made by the electoral college as well as win the popular vote. There may be an exception as was the case in the 2000’s election where Bush actually lost the popular vote to Al Gore but won over the electoral college. With all those requirements fulfilled, then can one be called President of the United States of America. After winning, the President will often announce his or her agenda formed from promises that were made during election campaigns. Often times these agendas are really never followed through because the political environment is ever-changing. The overall gain of this agenda is to set the pace of how they will carry out their term as well as set a relationship with the people they govern. As president the oversee both domestic and foreign policies. The role they play varies whether it be an international trading deal, dealing with foreign disputes, or handling a national crisis. The president also plays a lead role in whether the United States withdraws from an international organization (Bradley and Jack 1244). As was the case with President Trump and the withdrawal from UNESCO in 2017. With the end of the term, the president can either retire from office or rerun for a second term, or downright be impeached before he can finish. There was an exception to the two terms, but there was only one president ever and it was Franklin D. Roosevelt, afterwards the 22nd amendment was passed to not allow this.

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Lastly after discussing the president, the person in charge of running the government, we need talk about who actually does all the legal aspects of our country. With that the last topics we’ll explore the inner working of Congress and its respective parts, The House of Representatives and The Senate. Congress acts as the legislative branch in our government and is involved in managing of our country’s budget as well as our other financial needs, legislation needs, denial of judicial and executive nominations, and declaring war among other things. The bicameralism legislative nature of Congress was derived as a compromise between small and big states at the time. The importance of a bicameralism system was to have a better form of representation in legislation. While the president can partially declare war, in the case of Harry Truman in the Korean War(Under Article II, Section 2 provides that ‘The president shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.’) “If the Congress wants to stop a particular war, it always can do so by denying funding for it.” (Coll 307). In this way, checks and balances come into play to even out the power distribution.

Back on to the topic of civil liberties, we are told that these are our basic rights that are guaranteed. But with the increase in gun violence in recent years, especially the increase in school shootings, the topic of discussion is that whether guns should have more restrictions on them or downright just banning the possession and sale of them. It is essentially the idea of morality clashing against legality. In a legality sense, the banning of such weapons would violate our second amendment that says we are allowed to bear arms. So, then the idea of just regulating guns comes about, but in the 2008 case of District of Columbia v Heller, The Supreme Court found that there are some gun regulation laws that do indeed violate the second amendment

Now that we can’t ban or issue laws against guns what can we do against them? Well, we need to see the underlying issue actually causing the issue in the first place. According to an article by Wolf and Rosen “it seems that the gaps in the nation’s mental health system, rather than loose gun laws, are to blame” (869) It is assumed that the possible cause is the acquisition of guns by those that are deemed “mentally fit”. An example of this was in 2012 with the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado by gunman James Holmes and in a court hearing it was announced by attorneys that he was “mentally ill”. Though really, it’s correlation without causation as only a percentage of these shootings are actually done by those that are deemed “mentally ill”. But it is a starting point, nonetheless. What would actually happen if a person of such status were to obtain one, how would we stop them without infringing on their rights? Well in an article by Follansbee and Bloom (p. 323–333) it was shown that in the state of Oregon a procedure was done by a “Psychiatric Security Review Board” (PRSB). Which reviewed the restoration of firearm rights. Ultimately, the way to fix part of the problem isn’t by doing it with laws or regulations but by helping the “mentally ill” people so that the problems don’t start in the first place. The final solution to that would to reform our healthcare systems and ensure they get better psychiatric help. Or in the case of younger people, better help within the school system where they can get counseling.

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Essay on Understanding and Relevancy of Civil Liberties. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2023, from
“Essay on Understanding and Relevancy of Civil Liberties.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Essay on Understanding and Relevancy of Civil Liberties. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 May 2023].
Essay on Understanding and Relevancy of Civil Liberties [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 May 30]. Available from:
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