ANSWER RANGE FOR Pol S 215: American Politics Quiz #2 (22 Sep.)



The first eight questions can be answered with a phrase or a few sentences. You should be able to answer them in the space below each.


1). Under Mill’s ‘harm principle,’ on what grounds can the government restrict an individual’s liberty?


To protect others; only when an individual action would cause harm to others


2) According to lecture and based on the discussion of civil liberties in American Government, does the Constitution clearly accept the Mill’s harm principle as the standard for deciding whether laws infringe on citizens’ rights?




3) Give an example of a positive liberty and a negative liberty, according to lecture:


negative: freedom of speech, expression, etc. ;

positive: right to vote, participate in politics



4) What are two types of unprotected speech?


Commercial, obscene, libel, slander,


5) What does a writ of habeas corpus require?


The government must produce an arrested person in court for charges; ‘you have the body’


6) How did the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 affect the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision?


Brown overturned Plessy; or Brown made ‘separate but equal’ education unconstitutional



7) According to American Government, what were at least two of the voting barriers used in the South to keep African-American citizens from voting before 1964?


White primary; poll tax; literacy test; grandfather clause



8) List two provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

prohibited discrimination in employment; public accommodations; voting registration; created the EEOC 




The next two questions should be answered in one or two paragraphs, using complete sentences.


9) Based on lecture and the reading, explain how Justice Douglass’ opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut established a right to privacy and explain how it was applied to the issue of abortion in Roe v. Wade.


They should get most elements of this, but they don’t need all to get full credit:


-         Douglass argued that a right to privacy exists as a penumbra surrounding the enumerated rights in the Bill of Rights.

-          Freedom from warrant-less search and seizure, freedom to assemble and petition, the right against self-incrimination all assume some underlying right to privacy, or right to be left alone from government interference.

-         The Ninth amendment, which reserves rights to the people, could include a right to privacy.

-         In Roe v. Wade the Court ruled that the decision to terminate a pregnancy was a private one and that government could not interfere with it, at least in early stages of a pregnancy



10) In Letter from Birmingham Jail, explain several of Rev. Dr. King’s arguments for why segregation is unjust? What role do Socratic thought, Christian ideas, Madison’s arguments from the Federalist Papers, and elements of positive liberty play in King’s argument (discuss three of the four)?


-         Socratic thought: King sought to create tension, as Socrates did, to reveal myths and untruths; he practiced civil disobedience as S. did;

-         Christian ideas: the notion of a just and unjust laws derives in part from Christian teachings; an unjust law is no law at all (Augustine); a just law squares man’s laws with God’s laws (Aquinas);

-         Madison: white majority rules black majority as a tyranny of the majority over a minority; denies liberty as Madison said unrestrained democracy would

-         Positive liberty: King is demanding right to participate and vote, a positive liberty. Demands dignity and equality of respect for African-Americans, so they can achieve moral and civic self-realization, moral autonomy.