The balancing of liberty and security is difficult, particularly in times of crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, both national and state governments across the country have exercised expansive powers to enact policies in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. In many cases, these policies go beyond the traditional limits of government powers during more peaceful times. Many individuals have begun to push back against some of these measures, arguing they are unwarranted violations of basic rights, while others believe they are justifiable and reasonable emergency powers granted to the government. Explore the activity below and develop your own opinion based off both the evidence and your experience.
Read Amendment I, Amendment II, Amendment V, and Amendment VI and define the rights granted in your own words. The Bill of Rights initially was created to protect rights from overreach by the federal government. However, Amendment I, Amendment II, and parts of Amendment V and Amendment VI now apply to state governments as well under the doctrine of “incorporation.” Research how liberties protected by Amendment I, Amendment II, Amendment V, and Amendment VI have been impacted by federal, state, and local government measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students should fill out the graphic organizer below individually. Discuss with your classmates what you’ve found. Do they agree with your conclusions? Why or why not? Note: the first cell of the table has been filled in as a guide.
|Restricted Civil Liberty
|How it is being Restricted
|State(s)/Municipality(-ies) with Restriction
|Freedom of Assembly
- What justification by state and federal governments appears most valid, if any? What justification by state and federal governments appears least valid, if any?
- Should the Bill of Rights be interpreted and applied the same way during crises as it is during normal times? Justify your answer.
- If an individual believes a restriction on civil liberty to be unlawful, what actions can he or she take to create change? If an individual believes the restriction is justified, what actions can he or she take to uphold the law?