Thursday, November 19, 2009
In this episode we tackle the issue of why the First Amendment protects us from not only the federal government, but from the state governments as well. Through the Doctrine of Incorporation, the Supreme Court began to gradually incorporate a number of our civil liberties that were designed to protect us from a powerful federal government and extend those same liberties to protect us from the state governments. The Fourteenth Amendment, (passed during the aftermath of the Civil War as a result of the oppression of newly freed slaves through the onerous Black Codes), Congress sought to make sure that all citizens' rights were protected from the tyranny of state governments as well. A number of years later, then, in the case of Gitlow v. New York, the Supreme Court started to define what liberties individuals actually have in relation to their state governments in what has come to be known as the Doctrine of Incorporation, and this is the topic of today's episode.