Personal Injury

Debating Culture and the Courtroom—Past and Present

Take Action! - Cultures, Courts, and the U.S. Constitution

1. Become familiar with the first chapter of James W. Baird's Freedom of Speech in the Public Workplace. What is the difference between low value and high value speech? What is the significance of distinguishing between them? What are some examples of each? What is expressive conduct? Why is it considered a form of speech with First Amendment protection?

2. Before the Supreme Court this term, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York v. Village of Stratton demonstrates how religion issues can become entwined with free-speech issues. What cultural outlooks might the positions of the society and the village demonstrate? What was the case's outcome? Which cultural orientation predominated? Which orientation would you have supported, and why?

3. Visit any Web site below to read opinions about some incidents where political speech and/or actions (conduct) have been suppressed by the U.S. government following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. Do you think any of speech/actions represent a cultural response to the attacks? Why? Which government measures do you agree with? Disagree with? Prepare a list of arguments supporting your position.

4. Visit The Jurist to research famous treason trials] (e.g., the trial of Aaron Burr). What was the outcome in each case? How do these cases compare to the pending trial of John Walker Lindh, the American accused of aiding Taliban fighters in Afghanistan? Investigate the charges being brought against Lindh. Do you think he should be charged with treason? As a school project, track and report on the case, keeping a record of the arguments on each side of the case as they are developed for trial.

Student Central | Students in Action | Debating Culture and the Courtroom—Past and Present
*Cultures, Courts, and the U.S. Constitution*
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