AP US Government : History and Evolution of Civil Rights

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : History And Evolution Of Civil Rights

What constitutional amendment formed the basis of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court decision?

Possible Answers:

The Eighth Amendment 

The Fourteenth Amendment 

The Tenth Amendment 

The First Amendment 

The Nineteenth Amendment 

Correct answer:

The Fourteenth Amendment 

Explanation:

The Warren Court cited the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as justification for striking down racial segregation. Students should be able to recall critical civil rights amendments (such as the First, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Nineteenth Amendments). 

Example Question #2 : History And Evolution Of Civil Rights

How does de facto segregation differ from de jure segregation?

Possible Answers:

The former has been illegal since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, whereas the latter is technically still constitutional.

The latter is segregation that is enshrined by the legislature, whereas the former is segregation that is established by the Judiciary.

The former is discrimination against minorities, whereas the latter is discrimination against the majority.

The former exists without being enshrined in law, whereas the latter is segregation created by law.

The latter attempts to undo previous discrimination through affirmative action, whereas the former seeks to further entrench racial divisions.

Correct answer:

The former exists without being enshrined in law, whereas the latter is segregation created by law.

Explanation:

De facto segregation is the name given to racial segregation that exists, but is not supported by law and may even run counter to contemporary laws. De jure segregation is segregation that is created by and supported by law. De jure segregation has proved much easier to get rid of in American society, whereas de facto segregation has proven much more resilient.

Example Question #3 : History And Evolution Of Civil Rights

When the right to vote was first adopted, only white, property-owning males held a vote. Who determined how much property one needed to vote?

Possible Answers:

The Supreme Court

All of the above

The local governments and counties

The state governments

The federal government

Correct answer:

The state governments

Explanation:

Particularly at the dawn of the union, states have had a significant amount of autonomy and power. Back when property was often necessary for voting, the states were allowed to decide how much property was needed to have one's voice heard on political matters.

Example Question #4 : History And Evolution Of Civil Rights

Why is the Mayflower Compact of 1620 is considered an important step in the development of democracy in America because it? 

Possible Answers:

Granted all males the right to vote

Created the first colonial judiciary

Established the freedom of religion

Expressed the importance of self-government

Correct answer:

Expressed the importance of self-government

Explanation:

The Mayflower Compact was an early governing document signed by people who migrated from Europe to what would become the United States. It was drafted onboard the Mayflower by members of its crew based on when they knew of their environment thus stressing the need for self-governance.

Example Question #2 : History And Evolution Of Civil Rights

Which piece of legislation is considered instrumental in ending discrimination based on race?

Possible Answers:

The 13th Amendment

The HOPE Act

The Equal Education Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Correct answer:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Explanation:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the primary piece of legislation that come out of the Civil Rights Movement and was eventually passed after a lot of pressure on Congress from President Lyndon B. Johnson. This act contained various provisions designed to protect against discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, and ethnicity and therefore outlawed what was left of segregation and eventually forced the desegregation of schools. This act is credited with providing many of the protections that people have today and is considered one of the most important pieces of 20th legislation.

Example Question #6 : History And Evolution Of Civil Rights

I am a journalist who wrote a major expose of government wrongdoing. After ferreting out an unauthorized leak that will result in a criminal prosecution, the Department of Justice demands to know my source. Citing the well-established principle of confidentiality of sources, I refuse and am arrested. When I take the issue to court, what will the result be?

Possible Answers:

The judge will order me to disclose my source, citing the accused's right to a fair trial 

The judge will allow me to keep my source confidential, citing freedom of the press

The judge will order me to disclose my source, citing the need to determine whether my statements are true

The judge will allow me to keep my source confidential, citing the necessity of a free press for a democratic society

The judge will allow me to keep me source confidential, citing the ban on prior restraint

Correct answer:

The judge will order me to disclose my source, citing the accused's right to a fair trial 

Explanation:

In a criminal trial, the rights of the accused trump protection for journalistic sources. The Supreme Court refused to take the case of journalist Myron Farber, who found himself in a similar situation, because the Constitution does not provide reporters with the privilege of refusing to provide the name of a confidential source in the context of a criminal trial. The majority of states have "shield laws" that will keep journalists safe in such a situation, but the federal government does not. Federal courts must decide on a case-by-case basis whether the need of a journalist to protect a confidential source outweighs the interest of the government in gathering evidence in a criminal investigation.

Example Question #7 : History And Evolution Of Civil Rights

Select the document from which the civil liberties and rights of all Americans are derived.

Possible Answers:

The Bill of Rights 

The Constitution 

The Magna Carta 

The Declaration of Independence 

Correct answer:

The Bill of Rights 

Explanation:

The Bill of Rights – which are the Constitution’s first ten Amendments – are the source of the civil liberties and rights enjoyed by all Americans. The Constitution itself is a much broader document; it deals with Congressional structure, states’ rights, Presidential powers, and federal election requirements, among many other administrative concerns. The Bill of Rights was specifically added onto the Constitution by Congress in 1791, in order to ensure that in addition to its other topics, the Constitution included adequate protection of civil liberties. Included in the Bill of Rights are such famous statements as the right to freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and protection against “cruel and unusual punishment” by legal authorities. Indeed, the Bill of Rights is primarily focused on listing those freedoms (such as the three stated above) that both the national and state governments must respect and may not (unless under severe duress) ban any citizen from exercising or enjoying. Because most state constitutions at the time already included their own bills of rights, the Constitution’s Bill of Rights took its inspiration from these state documents, which were widely satisfaction of most citizens. 

Example Question #3 : History And Evolution Of Civil Rights

In which socio-economic arena did the judicial part of the Civil Rights Movement first begin?

Possible Answers:

Public education 

Voting rights 

Equality of pay 

Public transportation 

Correct answer:

Public education 

Explanation:

The Civil Rights Movement, in an effort to achieve change through the judicial system, first took up the issue of equal public education before the Supreme Court – perhaps because the value of education is a widely cherished belief across all levels of American society. In 1954, civil rights advocates, led by the NAACP, brought the case of Brown v. Board of Education to the Court, in which they argued that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The Court agreed, ruling that under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, segregation in public schools was indeed unconstitutional, even if the provided facilities and materials were “separate but equal” (as proponents of segregation alleged). This decision reversed an earlier ruling issued by the Court in 1896, in which the justices had found “separate but equal” institutions (including segregated schools, segregated restaurants, and segregated railroad cars) were legally permissible (Plessy v. Ferguson). Brown v. Board’s decisive ruling was the first judicial victory achieved by the Civil Rights Movement and the Supreme Court would go on to expand upon this case’s ruling, using it as a template for further judicial expansion and protection of the civil rights of African Americans and other minority groups.

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