Government Understandings SS5CG1, SS5CG2, SS5CG3, SS5CG4 Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens SS5CG1 Rights, Responsibilities, and Duties of Citizens • Rights are what citizens of the United States are able to do. – Examples of rights include: saying what you feel is true, dressing how you want, writing a letter to a newspaper editor. • Responsibilities are actions that citizens of the United States should respect. – Examples of responsibilities include: not hurting the feelings of others with your words, staying warm in the winter, using appropriate words to get your point across. • Duties are what citizens of the United States are obligated to do. – Examples of duties include: obeying laws, paying taxes, serving on a jury when called. Laws and Rules • Laws are important because they – Protect the rights of people – Keep people safe – Describe how people should behave • It is the job of police officers and courts to make sure that people obey the law. – There are consequences for not following the laws, and those punishments are subject to the severity of the crime. • Laws change with the times, but they are designed to protect citizens at home, school or work, and communities. Paying Taxes • Taxes are money that is paid to the government, and all citizens have to pay taxes. • Taxes are necessary in order to pay for things like: – – – – Schools Libraries Highways Parks • Taxes are used to help pay the salaries of: – Police officers – Firefighters – Government workers • You also pay taxes when you buy something at a store – sales tax. Jury Duty • One of the rights given to every citizen by the Constitution is the right to a trial by jury. • Along with this right, every citizen has the responsibility to serve on a jury when called. • Being selected by a jury comes from a list of registered voters and people who have driver’s licenses. • When a person is selected to be on a jury, they must forego work in order to serve. • Reasons that would exempt someone from jury duty in Georgia would be: – Someone over the age of 70 – Caregiver of a child four years or younger – A full-time college student Selective Service • Another law required of male citizens is registering for Selective Service System as they reach the age of 18. • The reason for this list is to know the male citizens that could possibly be called to serve for military services should the country ever reach a state of emergency. • Registering does not ensure that a man will go into the military, just that he could be drafted if needed. The Amendments SS5CG1 The Bill of Rights • Amendments are laws that ensure the protection of our rights and freedoms as U.S. citizens. • The first ten amendments added to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. • The first amendment states that we (as citizens) have the freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and right to petition. • Some believe the first amendment is the most important law, as it is the basis of democracy as we know it. The Bill of Rights • The second amendment is the right to bear arms, which means you are allowed to own a gun as long as you are a law-abiding citizen. • The third amendment states that troops may not be quartered in homes during peacetime. This practice came about during the Revolutionary War, but it still stands today. • The fourth amendment bans unreasonable searches and seizures – unless the police have a good reason, you cannot be searched or arrested. The Bill of Rights • The fifth amendment states that you cannot be tried and charged for the same crime twice. The name for this is double jeopardy. It also states that you must have due process of the law (we will talk about due process in a bit). • The sixth amendment states that you have the right to a speedy trial with a lawyer and jury. • The seventh amendment states that juries will serve in trials that exceed $20. • The eighth amendment bans excessive bail and fines. It also bans cruel and unusual punishment. The Bill of Rights • The ninth amendment states that some rights may not be listed in the bill of rights, but are understood. • The tenth amendment states the rights not issued by the national government are reserved by individual state governments. Due Process • Due process exists so that the legal system is fair for every person.. • The U.S. government follows basic procedures for due process: – – – – – – An accused person has the right to be told of the charges against him. An accused person has the right to a fair trial. An accused person has the right to be present at a trial. An accused person has the right to a fair jury. An accused person has the right to speak and defend himself. Laws must be written clearly so people can understand them. Changing the Constitution SS5CG2 Changing the Constitution • The Constitution is a living document, meaning it is able to be changed. It is meant to be changed as time passes. However, the changes can not be made easily. Think about it. How long has the government been around, and how many amendments are there? • In order to be changed, the amendment process states that: – Amendments can be proposed by a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress. – In order to become part of the Constitution, amendments must be approved by the legislatures by a three-fourths vote OR by conventions in three-fourths of the states. Maintaining Democracy & The U.S. motto SS5CG3 & SS5CG4 Voting Amendments • The Constitution has several amendments that outline rules for voting. • There are two amendments apply to national elections specifically: – The 12th Amendment changed the voting for the vice-president. Originally, the vice-president was the runner-up in the presidential election. The amendment makes it so people cast two separate votes for president and vice-president – so people’s choice of president is actually chosen. – The 17th Amendment changed the way senators were elected. Originally, senators were elected by state legislatures. People did not like that, so the amendment stated that each state will have senators elected by the people of that state. Voting Amendments • There are other amendments that protect the voting rights for Americans. – The 15th Amendment gave African Americans the right to vote. – The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. – The 23rd Amendment gave citizens of Washington D.C. the right to vote. – The 24th Amendment forbids poll taxes. – The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18. U.S. Motto • The purpose of a motto is to symbolize what is important to a country. • The motto of the United States is “e pluribus unum” which translates to “out of many, one” – The United States was one nation, born out of thirteen colonies. • The motto appears on the seal of the United States and on every side of U.S. coins.
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