Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
1. Explain how the theory of the social contract played a part in American independence.
Answer: The social contract is an idea that the powerful will stay in power because of the consent of the people, the masses, who have much greater numbers and if they wanted, could become powerful enough to overthrow the ruler. There is a quiet "deal" between the ruler and the masses. He will protect their rights and return for their loyalty. If he does not, they may depose of him.
It applied to the founding fathers because they believed that England did not protect the rights of the colonists; therefore, they decided to throw off his reigns of power over them. The Declaration of Independence speaks of this.
The theory of social contract as viewed by John Locke was invoked into the Declaration of Independence. He believed in inalienable natural rights and that the rule of God supersedes government
2. How is the question of prayer in public schools affected by the establishment clause?
Answer: At an absolute minimum, the Establishment Clause was intended to prohibit the federal government from declaring and financially supporting a national religion, such as existed in many other countries at the time of the nation's founding. It is far less clear whether the Establishment Clause was also intended to prevent the federal government from supporting Christianity in general. Proponents of a narrow interpretation of the clause point out that the same First Congress that proposed the Bill of Rights also opened its legislative day with prayer and voted to apportion federal dollars to establish Christian missions in the Indian lands. On the other hand, persons seeing a far broader meaning in the clause point to writings by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison suggesting the need to establish "a wall of separation" between church and state.
3. What are some of the limitations on abortion that the Supreme Court has allowed since the Roe v. Wade decision?
The final stage of pregnancy under Roe v. Wade occurs after the fetus becomes viable. After viability, the state could regulate or prohibit abortions unless they were ``necessary, in appropriate medical judgement'', to preserve the life or health of the woman. This standard must be read, however, in light of the Court's decision the same day in Doe v. Bolton, that clinical judgement ``may be exercised in light of all factors -- physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age -- relevant to the well-being of the patient. Thus, the Court nominally allowed the state to prohibit post-viability abortions except in apparently limited cases, but it actually defined the limitation in a way that bars the state from prohibiting such abortions if physicians are willing to perform them.
In a later case the Court sustained a statute defining viability as a stage where the fetus's life ``may be continued outside the womb by the natural or artificial life-supportive systems''. This definition allows the state to regulate the decision to have an abortion, a decision made while the fetus is in the womb, on the basis of what must at that time be a prediction about what will happen after the fetus is removed from the womb. The uncertainty of this prediction might lead physicians to refrain from performing abortions if, as Roe seemed to suggest, states could readily prohibit post-viability abortions. The Court thus stressed that…