1.Describe how you understand the “Establishment Clause” and the related “Lemon Test”.
The establishment clause origins from the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects the right to freedom of religious conscience and practice. On this matter, it protects two related sorts of freedom: it protects people from having a set of religious beliefs imposed by the government, and it protects people from having their own religious beliefs restricted by governmental authorities. The first type of protection is known as the establishment clause. In other words, it is the right that forbids the Congress or the States from creating or promoting a state-sponsored religion.
Furthermore, the Lemon test is a set of guidelines for judging whether a law or other government action that might promote a religious practice should be allowed or not. These is the criteria:
- The action or law must not lead to excessive government entanglement with religion; in other words, policing the boundary between government and religion should be relatively straightforward and not require extensive effort by the government.
- The action or law cannot either inhibit or advance religious practice; it should be neutral in its effects on religion.
- The action or law must have some secular purpose; there must be some non-religious justification for the law.
In conclusion, for a law or action that might promote a religious practices to be allowed it must not require a large undertake from the government. Also, it can interfere with the religious practices, and it must have a non-religious purpose to exist.
2. Is burning the US flag protected by the First Amendment? Explain by referring to the relevant court case discussed in the reading.
As referred to in the reading in 1984 a member of a pro-communist and antiwar group set fire to a U.S flag. This man, Gregory Lee Johnson, was charged and convicted for “desecration of a venerated object”. Nevertheless, years later in 1989, the Supreme Court decided that burning the flag was a form of symbolic speech. Thereafter, this act could be protected by the First Amendment; thus, this law as applied to flag desecration was found unconstitutional. As a result, it is possible to say that burning the US flag is protected under the First Amendment. However, as it is also mentioned in the reading, this act of symbolic speech is found highly controversial for Americans. Because citizens of the United States tend to revere the flag as a unifying symbol of the country. In a nutshell, the United States flag is a highly respected symbol of the country and any act against it is seemed as a strong act of disrespect.
3. What does it mean when someone says, “I’m taking the Fifth”?
The Fifth Amendment states provisions dealing with the rights of the accused. In one of the many provisions the Fifth Amendment lists, the most famous is the one that states the right against self-incrimination, or the right to remain silent. Then, when someone says: I’m taking the fifth, they are basically stating that they are choosing to use their right to remain silent. It is well explained in the reading “People have the right not to give evidence in court or to law enforcement officers that might constitute an admission of guilt or responsibility for a crime. Moreover, in a criminal trial, if someone does not testify in his or her own defense, the prosecution cannot use that failure to testify as evidence of guilt or imply that an innocent person would testify.” Thus, a person has the right to not help the persecution; thereafter, allowing people to avoid the chance of being manipulated to admit a guilt they don’t own. In conclusion, this is a provision that looks after providing the accused a fair and transparent prosecution process.