Writ of habeas corpus – A court order requiring explanation to a judge why a prisoner is being held in custody.
Ex post facto law – Retroactive criminal law that works to the disadvantage of a person.
Bill of attainder – Legislative act inflicting punishment, including deprivation of property, without a trial, on named individuals or members of a specific group.
Due process clause – Clause in the Fifth Amendment limiting the power of the national government; similar clause in the Fourteenth Amendment prohibiting state governments from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Selective incorporation – The process by which provisions of the bill of rights are brought within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment and so applied to state and local governments.
Establishment clause – Clause in the First Amendment that states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. The Supreme Court has interpreted this to forbid governmental support to any or all religions.
Vouchers – Money government provides to parents to pay their children’s tuition in a public or private school of their choice.
Free exercise clause – Clause in the First Amendment that states that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
Bad tendency test - Interpretation of the First Amendment that would permit legislatures to forbid speech encouraging people to engage in illegal action.
Clear and present danger test – Interpretation of the First Amendment that holds that the government cannot interfere with speech unless the speech presents a clear and present danger that it will lead to evil or illegal acts.
Preferred position doctrine – Interpretation of the First Amendment that holds that freedom of expression is so essential to democracy that governments should not punish persons for what they say, only for what they do.
Nonprotected speech – Libel, obscenity, fighting words, and commercial speech, which are not entitled to constitutional protection in all circumstances.
Libel – Written defamation of another person. For public officials and public figures, the constitutional tests designed to restrict libel actions are especially rigid.
Sedition - Attempting to overthrow the government by force or use violence to interrupt its activities.
Obscenity – Quality or state of a work that taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest in sex by depicting sexual conduct in a patently offensive way and that lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Fighting words – Words that by their very nature inflict injury on those to whom they are addressed or incite them to acts of violence.
Commercial speech – Advertisements and commercials for products and services; they receive less First Amendment protection, primarily to discourage false and misleading ads.
Prior restraint – Censorship imposed before a speech is made or a newspaper is published; usually presumed to be unconstitutional.
Civil disobedience – Deliberate refusal to obey law or comply with orders of public officials as a means of expressing opposition.
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