Credits: 0.5
Term: Fall 2017, Spring 2018


Course Description:

The purpose of the course is to engage the student with what it means to become an involved and active citizen, knowledgeable about his or her rights and responsibilities of citizenship as well as participation in representative government.

Topics & Concepts:
  • Unit One – Academic Integrity Exercise; Introduction to the idea of Rights; Human Rights; and the Sources of Rights.
  • Unit Two – Rights and the Constitution; what rights are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution?
  • Unit Three – First Amendment and Religion; the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause; are there conflicts within and between these? What do they mean? What do they protect?
  • Unit Four – First Amendment and Speech and Press; what are the limits? What can you say in school? Where is speech on the internet?
  • Unit Five – First Amendment and Petition and Assembly rights; how do these rights work and what are their limits? How can we exercise these rights?
  • Unit Six – Second Amendment and the Right to Bear Arms; what does this oddly worded amendment really mean? The Heller case will tell us, at least in part. Are there limits? What do we and our neighbors think?
  • Unit Seven – Privacy and the 4th Amendment; when can the police search us and where? How does this important concept work in real life?
  • Unit Eight – Rights of the Criminal Defendant; how do these effect us and are they a good idea in the 21st Century? What about the Miranda decision now?
  • Unit Nine – We will cover Due Process and the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. What is Due Process and how does that protect Life, Liberty and Property? When can the state take your property, and how?
  • Unit Ten – The Rights to a Speedy and Public Trial; why are these important and are there any times when trials should not be open? Why can you attend almost any trial going on in Vermont?
  • Unit Eleven – The Right to an Attorney and Representation; when do you get one, and why should you have one? The famous case of Gideon v. Wainwright will tell us why this right is important. What happens when you don’t have an attorney available to assist you at trial and before?
  • Unit Twelve – Habeas Corpus is a concept that goes back 500 years to the Magna Carta and we will see it in action as you discover how it works, why it is important and you do some legal research!
  • Unit Thirteen –  What rights do we have that are not in the U.S. Constitution? The right to marry and the right of privacy have been suggested by the Supreme Court.
  • Unit Fourteen – Voting Rights; how have they expanded over the years and why do so many of us fail to exercise this fundamental right? Topics for final projects will be due this week along with an opinion exercise.
  • Unit Fifteen – The Fourteenth Amendment and Equality, what does Equal Protection mean? How equal is equal? Are all students entitled to equal access to the college of their choice? What would that mean?
  • Unit Sixteen – Rights and the Vermont Constitution; yes, we are governed by two constitutions! What additional rights does the Vermont Constitution give us?

Offerings and courses subject to change. Please refer to the VTVLC Student Information System as the most up-to-date resource of current offerings and required materials for courses.