The United State works under the rule that the residents ought to consistently have a voice on their administration. Bringing about the foundation of a popularity based government where the individuals get the opportunity to pick their constituent competitors under the reason of who will administer them. In order to prevent a corrupt governmental system, it is broken down into three separate branches. As result no decision can be made without referring to the other branches for confirmation creating a process known as check and balances (Newell et. 47). Written in the U.S constitution are the Bill of Rights which states all the civil liberties every American citizen has in Section. Since Texas is a strong advocate for limited government power it is adamant for Texans citizens to always be able to enact their liberties. How this is achieved is through a process known as incorporation where a state writes the Bill of Rights into our Texas constitution forever insuring the people civil liberties (Newall et al. 272). It works as an insurance if the united states become too corrupt it decides to suppress the people constitutional right. In this manner depicting how Texas laws ensure residents freedoms in the primary revision and how it has affected the state throughput the years.
In the main alteration it builds up our common freedoms otherwise called the Bill of Rights which list our individual ability to speak freely ,press ,religion and gathering (Newall et al., 280). These liberties are considered a “freedom of expression” which cannot be suppressed by the government. A common purpose for the first amendment is to protect the voice of individuals views that are not liked by the majority. For example, the case of Texas v. Johnson caused controversy on how the interpretation “freedom of speech and press” should be utilized. During the Regan administration Gregory Johnson was arrested in Texas for burning the U.S flag despite the fact it was his version of a representational speech (Newall et al. 273). The Supreme Court agreed on Johnson appeal declaring that Texas law prohibiting residents from burning the flag was an unconstitutional because it was a restriction that violated the first amendment. The result from this dilemma caused Texas to reevaluate their interpretation on “Freedom of Expression” in order to prevent a situation like Johnson from happening again. Another strict evaluation on the first amendment is congress inability to established or associate their specific choice of religion (Newall et al. 274). This liberty is meant to respect the diverse religion inside the United States free from prosecutions or intimidation. What the policy aims to do is maintain a separation between the church and state preventing the government from favoring any form of religion (Newell et al. 274). The only actions the government can partake is one aiding church as long it shows that they are no preference meaning all the receiving help must be equal toward other religious organizations. An instance where the government had involved themselves in religious affiliations was when Christian pastor Rick Barr sued the city of Sinton when they passed an ordinance preventing paroles one thousand feet near churches thus preventing the practice of his religion(Newall et al. 275). Texas worked to uphold these laws by ruling Sinton ordinance unconstitutional respecting the constitutional right to express the freedom of religion.
While civil liberties refer to the freedom given in the constitution civil rights contains different meaning are focusing on the equal treatment for every citizen deserves despite their orientation, race, or religion. If the government oppresses groups of people because of their ethnic, or other categories it conveys that their civil rights have been violated (Newell et al. 280). There have been many civil rights movements that citizens have protest for which includes voting for everyone, education, fair trial, and etc. A major case known as Brown V. Board of Education which ruled that segregation was unconstitutional under the violation of the fourteenth amendment (Newell et al. 274). Despite the Supreme Court ruling there have been series of turbulence attempting to work around the law by segregating students inside the school (Newell et al. 275). Until the schools got weary of the constant lawsuits and proceeded to successfully integrated all public-school districts. As a result, from these series of laws causes the question to rise should education be a basic right. Texas Constitution worked to protect all citizens which decided the ruling of Edgewood v. Kirby case preventing their version of a public-school finance system. An additional predicament is the second amendment which states the right to bear arms instigating major controversy on whether American citizens should be allowed to exercise this right. This is a heavily researched topic where about 54% of American citizens favor the ideas of stricter gun control laws, but that is against the second amendment where they specifically discuss that any suppression to the right of bear arms is unconstitutional. The Texas constitution protects the second amendments in section twenty-three establishing that any citizens has the right to protect themselves by bearing arms preventing any U.S laws from controlling that right (Newall et al. 278). As a safety precaution to protect Texas citizens from inexperience gun user they passed the castle doctrine. A law that does not restrict gun arms but adds a requirement calling for ten hours of training in order to carry a concealed weapon (Newall et al. 278). Maintaining the rights of Texas citizens while protecting other individuals that does not wish to exercise this right.
One of the biggest civil right that has been fought over the centuries a is law racial equality. A case about twenty years ago occurred in a small town known as Jasper near the border of Louisiana and east Texas (Newall et al. 284). Where three white men tied an African American man known as James Byrd Jr to their car and dragged his body across the border for three miles(Newall et al. 284). Then discarding the body in front of a previously black cemetery for everyone in the town to see. This cruel murder appalled all the citizens in their community and opening the eyes to everyone across the country about black brutality. However, James Byrd Jr death did not go in vain with the immediate prosecution of the murders. Unlike previous times where lynched black men death went uninvestigated James homicide was prosecuted at the plead of his community who wished to see justice. Charged with a substantial amount of evidence two of the men received the death penalty and the other a life sentence (Newall et al. 284). This had marked the second time in Texas history that a white man had been given the death penalty for murdering an African American man (Newall et al. 284). The charges for the three black white morphed the justice system that was previously bias to African American people into actively seeking true justice. This trauma marked a difference between the old and new Texas one that started to identify minorities as equals. Being one of the first steps taken to the equal rights in trail for African Americans this affect the states civil rights concern and issues. Another issue that occurred was the drug busts in Tulia in January of 1998(Newall et al 285). Where a fraudulent undercover agent Thomas Coleman was assigned a job to discover drug dealer in Tulia. The following year Coleman had accused forty-six minorities of selling illegal drugs (Newall et al. 285). However, many would come to suspect his farce by uncovering the testimony of multiple individuals describing his personality as conniving, thieving, and aggressive towards minorities (Newall et al. 285). The most convincing testimony was the evidence of bank records proving that the accused women was in Oklahoma at the time when Coleman claimed she was pushing drugs to him. At the end of the investigation into Coleman he was imprisoned for multiple accounts of perjury. Both of these cases displayed a sense of community unity and structure to seeking justice for the minorities who were wronged. This shows how far Texas Laws have progressed in supporting equal rights for all citizens (Newall et al. 286).
Some of the modern dilemma that has impacted the United States government is the death of an African American man named George Floyd. He was only assigned a citation ticket when a white police officer pushed him onto the ground and kneeled on his throat for nine minutes resulting in the death of George Floyd later that day. This event distraught citizens across the entire country demanding for police reformation, the end of racism, and the advocation of black lives matter. The protest has even taken a more violent approach with the burning of buildings and looting of stores resulting in the president to dispatch the national guard to heavily protest areas. Unlike previous times where the officers are found not guilty George Floyd murderer is currently facing charges for third-degree murder. This case is very similar to James Byrd Jr. death where both African American men were killed and aroused the citizens of America implementing their liberties to seek a change in society.
In the end, understanding our civil liberties and rights give citizens a greater knowledge of what they are capable in changing their community. Understanding what protect us from the government reign is what continues the functioning of democracy in the United States. Reading this chapter about the substance of justice informs the reader of how our civil liberties can be suppressed and how citizens can fight against the suppression. As demonstrated in the multiple cases of James Byrd Jr, George Floyd , and Tulia the people have the power in this democratic government.
- Newell, C., Prindle, D. F., & Riddlesperger, J. W. (2015). Texas Politics: Ideal and Reality (13th ed.). Cengage Publishing.