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(3) No State may deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws. (Amend. XIV.) This means that no State may enact laws which discriminate unreasonably between persons or classes of persons. For instance, Illinois could not prohibit all combinations to fix prices or restrict competition “except farmers and stock raisers.” A State could not require railroads "alone” to pay court costs when defeated in a suit. In 1914 Arizona provided that any company or individual that employs more than five persons must employ not less than 80 per cent qualified voters or nativeborn citizens of the United States. This law was declared unconstitutional because its enforcement would have discrimi. nated against aliens and thus would have deprived them of the equal protection of the State's laws.

131. Civil Rights Beyond the Control of State Legislatures. Each State constitution contains a Bill of Rights placing restrictions upon the State legislature just as the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States places restrictions upon Congress. The Bills of Rights of State constitutions contain such provisions as the following: guarantee of trial by jury, religious freedom, freedom of the press, writ of

habeas corpus; prohibition of excessive bail, excessive fines, to end

cruel and unusual punishment; and the guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. 1

132. Religious Liberty.- Congress may not make any law respecting the establishment of a religion, nor may it interfere with the freedom of religious worship. (Amend. I.) The Constitution of Virginia provides that “all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience." (Art. I, Sec. 16.) However, “Holy Rollers” may not conduct their worship in such a manner as to disturb the peace of a neighborhood ; Mormons may not marry two wives; and Christian Scientists may not deny medical attention to their children. A person may believe whatever he pleases, but in the name of religious liberty he must not violate a statute enacted for the general welfare of society.

1 Though this equal protection of the laws clause is a restriction upon the States only, a law of Congress depriving persons of equal protection might be declared unconstitutional as being in conflict with Amendment V, which prohibits Congress from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property with out due process of law.

133. The Freedom of Speech and of the Press. — Congress can make no law abridging the freedom of speech and of the press (Amend. I); and the Constitution of Virginia provides that “ any citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the use of that right.” (Art. I, Sec. 12.)

A person has the right to speak or publish what he chooses so long as he does not violate a statute law, injure some one's reputation or business, or violate public morality. Officers of government and candidates for office may be criticised if the critic speaks of what he knows or believes, has only the public interest in view, and speaks without malice.

To illustrate, if John Smith is a candidate for the city treasurership one could publish the fact that he had stolen city funds in New York back in the sixties when the Tweed Ring governed the city. But publishing the same fact against Smith simply because one dislikes him would make such person subject to damage suit; or, if the publication results in a feud or a breach of the peace, such publication is also crime? which the State can punish, and proof that the statement is true will be no defence. If a person has lived as a good citizen for a number of years he has a right not to have his past record made public by a person prompted by a spiteful or malicious motive.

The prohibiting of addresses in public parks or thoroughfares and of profane language in certain places is not considered an abridgment of freedom of speech.

134. The Right to Assemble and to Petition.— Congress may not prevent any peaceable assembling or any governmental peti

1 For the meaning of "crime" see Section 183.



tion, and a State may prevent neither a petition to the National Government' nor a peaceful meeting for the purpose of prepar " ing a petition to the National Government, but a State may prescribe where and when meetings may be held. To illustrate, a State could not prevent the meeting of reformers for the purpose of petitioning the National Government to propose a constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of cigarettes ; but if street meetings interfere with traffic the city authorities may require the reformers to meet in halls or in the suburbs.

135. The Writ of Habeas Corpus. — The Constitution of the United States (Art. I, Sec. 9) provides that “the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” All State constitutions have similar provisions. This writ secures to any person who claims to be unlawfully detained the right to have an immediate preliminary hearing before a civil court that he may learn the reason for his detention.

136. Inequalities Before the Law. In theory all men are equal before the law; in practice they are not.

(1) A poor man cannot afford able lawyers “to outwit and bafile the judge and jury.” If a poor man is accused of having committed a crime, and is tried, the State furnishes an attorney to defend him; but the fee allowed is small and an able lawyer is seldom secured. When a poor man has to sue a man of means for civil damages he is often obliged to offer an attorney half the amount involved.

(2) When a poor man is arrested he is often unable to give bail, and must remain in jail until his case is finally disposed of; whereas a well-to-do" man gives bail and is released to await trial. This condition can be remedied only by giving speedier justice, and by releasing on parole persons who have committed minor offences.

(3) When a fine is imposed, the rich man pays the fineperhaps with no inconvenience; the poor man serves his time in jail. If the offence is petty why not give the poor man credit, release him, and allow him to pay the fine by instalments ?


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(4) A rich man may appeal to the higher courts if the lower court decides against him and thus may drag out the case until the poor man is obliged to abandon his right for lack of lawyers' fees and court fees. The demand is for speedier justice. This is a challenge to you

rich or poor

to remove the few remaining inequalities. In no other country are the inequalities so few. The rich pay high progressive income and inheritance taxes; and the poor have the workmen's compensation laws, free education, equal suffrage, and can vote taxes upon the rich because they outnumber them. Only unprejudiced labor can bring complete justice. With free education a poor boy can become a Lincoln as readily as a rich boy.


CHAFEE, Z. Freedom of Speech. 1920.
See Bibliography for Chapters V and VI.

QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT 1. What are civil rights ? What are political rights ? 2. In what documents are the more precious civil rights preserved ?

3. What three civil rights are beyond the control of Congress or the States ?

4. What is a bill of attainder ?
5. What is an ex post facto law ?
6. Explain fully the meaning of “due process of law.”

Give one illustration of a law which would be contrary to “due process

of law” because of improper procedure. Because of unreasonableness.

7. Will courts consider a moot point of law, or must actual cases be brought before them before they will explain the law ?

8. What is a Bill of Rights? Why are the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States known as the Bill of Rights?

9. Do these amendments restrict State legislatures or only Congress ?

10. Amendment II provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Could your State legislature pass a law restricting the carrying of arms ?

11. What three important civil-right restrictions are placed upon the States which are not imposed upon Congress ? Illustrate.


12. State Bills of Rights commonly prohibit State legislatures from interfering with what rights of the people?

13. May a person believe whatever he pleases regarding religious matters? May he do what he pleases, pretending his deeds to be a part of his religion ?

14. May one person say what he chooses regarding another? May he publish it?

15. May the right to assemble and petition be denied ?

16. What is the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus ? Under what conditions


it be denied ? 17. In theory all men are equal before the law. Practically are they?

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION 1. If the President's daughter should be slapped by a disreputable character while attending a session of Congress, the offender could not be sent to the penitentiary. Could Congress enact a law providing that he should be sent to the penitentiary for five years ?

2. Why could not the legislature of your State enact a law providing that no farm hand may work more than five hours a day?

3. If an inmate of an insane asylum claims to be sane how could he proceed to have himself released if the superintendent of the asylum would not permit him to leave ?

4. Mr. Dicey says, “Freedom of discussion is in England little else than the right to write or say anything which the jury, consisting of twelve shopkeepers, think it expedient should be said or written.” Is this practically true in your

State ? 5. “We have learned that it is pent-up feelings that are dangerous, whispered purposes that are revolutionary, covert follies that warp

and poison the mind; that the wisest thing to do with a fool is to encourage him to hire a hall and discourse to his fellow citizens. Nothing chills folly like exposure to the air; nothing dispels folly like its publication; nothing so eases the machine as the safety valve.”

Woodrow Wilson. Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Wilson ? Why?

6. In 1798, after a series of most exasperating attacks upon the government, Congress passed the sedition act providing a “fine and imprisonment for anyone uttering or publishing false, scandalous and malicious statements against the government.” A Jerseyman named Baldwin violated the sedition law and was fined $100 for expressing

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