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The civil liberties and constitutional rights possessed by our nation's citizens - not only in theory, but in the courtroom, where the state can be forced to honor those liberties - are a uniquely American invention.
And when we were taught history and learned about the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, we were always made aware of that uniqueness, of the extraordinary experiment that gave to every citizen of this new nation a gift possessed by no others.
Now you can learn exactly what that gift was - in a series of 36 lectures based on Supreme Court opinions from dozens of the Court's most important landmark decisions, presented by an award-winning teacher who is also an internationally recognized expert in constitutional law.
You'll learn just what liberties and rights the Founders wanted the new government to protect, as well as how we get from what Professor Finn calls the Constitution's "wonderfully elastic and vague" language to the finely tuned specifics of the Supreme Court's opinions about speech, abortion, and religion, and so much more. And you'll grasp the hard truth that no matter how unwavering the Constitution's language on any subject may appear, things are almost invariably more complicated than it would seem at first reading.
The result is a legacy of questions that multiplies with each passing decade, and explains why generations of jurists and legal scholars, not to mention legislators, presidents, and citizens, have argued so long and hard about the meaning of what often appears to be unambiguous phrasing.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
I'm only writing this review because I saw where another review stated how terrible the narration is. While it's true, the professor does correct himself here and there, I found it no more irritating than any other college lecture course I've taken over the years. He's human. He makes mistakes. He corrects himself. Get over it.
The substance of the course is EXCELLENT. If you're interested in the cases that have shaped our Bill Of Rights, this is the course for you. Prof. Finn knows this subject like the back of his hand, and educates you in a clear, entertaining manner that I found to be very enjoyable.
23 of 25 people found this review helpful
1 What Are Civil Liberties?
2 The Bill of Rights—An Overview
3 Two Types of Liberty—Positive and Negative
4 The Court and Constitutional Interpretation
5 Marbury v. Madison and Judicial Review
6 Private Property and the Founding
7 Lochner v. New York and Economic Due Process
8 The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment
9 Fundamental Rights—Privacy and Personhood
10 Privacy—Early Cases
11 Roe v. Wade and Reproductive Autonomy
12 Privacy and Autonomy—From Roe to Casey
13 Other Privacy Interests—Family
14 Other Privacy Interests—Sexuality
15 Same-Sex Marriages and the Constitution
16 The Right to Die and the Constitution
17 Cruel and Unusual? The Death Penalty
18 The First Amendment—An Overview
19 Internal Security and the First Amendment
20 Symbolic Speech and Expressive Conduct
21 Indecency and Obscenity
22 Hate Speech and Fighting Words
23 The Right to Silence
24 Why Is Freedom of Religion So Complex?
25 School Prayer and the Establishment Clause
26 Religion—Strict Separation or Accommodation?
27 The Free Exercise Clause—Acting on Beliefs
28 Free Exercisee and “the Peyote Case”
29 Two Religion Clauses—One Definition?
30 Slavery and Dred Scott to Equal Protection
31 Brown v. Board of Education
32 Equality and Affirmative Action
33 Equality and Gender Discrimination
34 Gender Discrimination as Semi-Suspect
35 The Future of Equal Protection?
36 Citizens and Civil Liberties
I enjoyed these lectures on the Bill of Rights and Civil Liberties. I have an idea that this course was designed for pre-law or law school classes as it does go in great depth on certain cases and issues.
I do not remember a case on the second amendment at all. What I liked about these classes was learning how the Supreme Court works and what their job is. They are required to interpret the Constitution and whenever they step outside of those boundaries they are called “Lochnering” after a famous case in lecture 7. The justices in this case seemed to make up the law as they went along and did not use the Constitution as the basis of the judgement.
Another portion that struck me was the duality of the Freedom of Religion laws. The first is that no establishment of a religion is allowed and the second is that people are allowed to believe in their own religions. Obviously, if your religion believed that killing your neighbors would have you attain heaven, that would have to be restricted. Most of the cases dealt with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.
The next lectures had to do with slavery and civil rights. The professor explained the Dred Scott decision differently than I had ever learned before. Basically, since a black man in those days was considered property, the Court treated Dred Scott as stolen goods.
That goes way back to the compromise in Founding the Constitution. Thank goodness our Constitution is fluid enough that we can do away with bad laws without destroying our government.
These lectures were produced before the Gay Marriage decision but he does touch on what was happening at the time he taught. Women’s rights are also touched on as well as Roe vs. Wade. The reason we are still fighting over Roe vs. Wade is that per the professor it was a badly written ruling.
These lectures last around 30 minutes and I believe it was well worth my time.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
in the last lecture he mentions that most people in the US don't know what is in the bill of rights. I got this course to find out. unfortunately, he never goes through them. still it's a really good great course and I'm glad I listened to it. I learned a lot about the constitution, the bill of rights and how the supreme court works.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I'm neither a lawyer nor an American, but this course was far more interesting than I imagined it would be.
it allowed a glimpse into constitutional law, American legal history and liberty and its meaning to humanity.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Civil Liberties and the Bill of Rights?
The professor keeps saying one word or name then quickly changing his mind and correcting his previous statement. It became very hard to remain focused on the lectures content. My poorly equipped mind was still trying to join the dots as the professor changed his mind on what he was trying to say. This lecture could be great if the mistakes were edited out. As it is, expect to spend 50% of your attention being focused on what the professor was trying to say but didn't and then corrected himself.
Any additional comments?
I should have asked for a refund. The content is interesting. The performance makes this kind of content difficult to absorb.
12 of 16 people found this review helpful
Over all the lectures were well presented and worth listening to. However, if you hope to learn about the 2nd Amendment, you will have to look elsewhere.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this course very much! Well organized and the professor highlighted the importance of the cases that he spoke about. I cannot recommend this lecture enough.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
The lecturer obviously knew what he was talking about, but tended to over-qualify every sentence, to the point that he was hard to follow. It might be a fun drinking game for future listeners to take a shot every time the lecturer says “or I *should* say...”
That said, this was a reasonably good course on the legal basis behind American civil rights. It’s a pity that it isn’t more recent than 2005.
These lectures are great if you want to understand how Supreme Court decisions formed the basic rules of our Constitutional Democracy
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Absolutely. This is foundational to our society.
Who was your favorite character and why?
It's a lecture series.
Which character – as performed by Professor John E. Finn – was your favorite?
IT'S A LECTURE SERIES.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Any additional comments?
A must read for any American Citizen.
Would you try another book written by The Great Courses or narrated by Professor John E. Finn?
Despite the original statements in the lectures this looks only at the law of the constitution.it says basically that if it is not in the constitution or the bill of rights expressly then it does not matter or even count at all.very right wing&biasef
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
Sum good some bad but very skewed in its reading.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
He could have tried to be less biased in his content&audio
You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?
It had some interesting points
Any additional comments?
The tag line should be-if it isnt in the constitution then anything goes against you&thats just tough luck on you