AP US Government : The Bill of Rights

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

Example Question #91 : Constitutional Amendments

Which Amendment protects a free and robust press?

Possible Answers:

1st Amendment

10th Amendment

23rd Amendment

2nd Amendment

Correct answer:

1st Amendment

Explanation:

The First Amendment protects the press’ free speech, as well as that of individuals. It is nearly impossible to exaggerate the importance of a “free and robust” press in a democratic society. To begin with, informed voters make their decisions based off of the information regarding the candidates or the party that they have available. If a government can restrict the press to only cast in a positive light a certain individual/party/anything, even the most well-read voter cannot be truly “informed”; she has no idea what is actually going on. Having said that, it is important to understand that a robust free press does not mean that journalists are granted immunity from prosecution or having to testify—there is no shield law for journalists.

Example Question #101 : Constitutional Amendments

McDonald v. Chicago recognized that the _________________ Amendment grants an individual right to “keep and bear arms.”

Possible Answers:

4th

2nd

1st

5th

Correct answer:

2nd

Explanation:

The correct answer is the Second Amendment. Although you may not be familiar with the case, McDonald v. Chicago (you likely should be), the remainder of the question should have tipped you off to the answer. The full text of the Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” There was, prior to McDonald (and its companion case, Heller v. DC) some confusion regarding the status of Second Amendment rights; everyone agreed that they existed (clearly) but disagreed on exactly how. In more concrete terms, while everyone recognized a general right to “keep and bear arms” there was substantial disagreement regarding whether that right was an individual right to keep and bear arms (as opposed to, say, the right to keep and bear arms in a militia). McDonald v. Chicago and Heller v. DC answered that question in the affirmative.

Example Question #101 : Civil Rights, Amendments, And Court Cases

The ___________________ Amendment was in large part a response to the British practice pre-Revolutionary war of forcing subjects to quarter soldiers in their own homes (realistically, more likely in pubs or inns).

Possible Answers:

10th

3rd

20th

1st

Correct answer:

3rd

Explanation:

The correct answer is the Third Amendment. Interestingly, the Third Amendment is hands-down the least controversial Amendment, well, ever. It has been the subject of absolutely no Supreme Court litigation! The newly-minted US included the 3rd Amendment in large part because of the excesses of the British government in the decade or so immediately preceding the Revolution.

Example Question #101 : Constitutional Amendments

The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is found in which Amendment?

Possible Answers:

4th

6th

8th

10th

Correct answer:

4th

Explanation:

This should have been a relatively easy question. The correct answer is the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth amendment, among other things, proscribes unreasonable searches and seizures. The “un” is emphasized because the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit “reasonable” searches and seizures. If, for example, a law-abiding citizen got pulled over for, say, speeding, and the officer requested a search of the car, that citizen could exercise his rights under the Fourth Amendment, and decline the search (provided the officer didn’t have probable cause). Contrary to popular lore, declining a search based off of your Fourth Amendment rights does not then create probable cause allowing the police officer to obtain a warrant and search without permission. That would be an absurd result.

Example Question #31 : The Bill Of Rights

The government cannot take your land without “just compensation” because of the Fifth Amendment. What else does the Fifth Amendment provide?

Possible Answers:

Prohibition against “double jeopardy”

Due process

 All of these answers are correct

A grand jury indictment

Correct answer:

 All of these answers are correct

Explanation:

The Fifth Amendment provides quite a lot of artillery in one little amendment. For the purposes of this question, the answer reading “all of these answers are correct” is the correct answer. The Fifth Amendment is a little bizarre in the sense that it mixes things that are totally unrelated. The prohibition against an uncompensated “taking,” for example, has nothing to do with the right to a grand jury indictment for the criminally accused. A right to a grand jury indictment is only tangentially related to the prohibition against “double jeopardy” (which means the government cannot seek to “overturn” an acquittal by indicting/prosecuting the same defendant on the same facts). Interestingly, all of these are included within the realm of the Fifth Amendment!

Example Question #31 : The Bill Of Rights

What does it mean to “take the Fifth”?

Possible Answers:

None of these answers are correct

(Illegally) refuse to answer a question that has nothing to do with any probable criminal proceedings

(Legally) refuse to appear in court due to the fact that it may incriminate the one making the appearance

(Legally) refuse to answer a question (generally under oath) due to the fact that it may incriminate the one speaking

Correct answer:

(Legally) refuse to answer a question (generally under oath) due to the fact that it may incriminate the one speaking

Explanation:

“Pleading” or “taking” the Fifth refers to a legal refusal to answer a question (generally administered under oath) due to the fact that it may incriminate the one testifying or speaking. Take, for example, an alleged murderer. Without the Fifth Amendment, the prosecution could put the alleged murderer on the stand (that is, call him as a witness) and then simply ask him “did you murder the victim, Ms. Doe, on February 14, 1993 at 4pm in the afternoon at the neighborhood Kentucky Fried Cabbage?” The alleged murderer is now confronted with a very difficult choice (assume that he did in fact kill Ms. Doe): he can either (1) perjure himself; or (2) confess in open court. Neither option is terribly attractive. Thus, the Fifth Amendment prevents defendants from having to choose between perjuring themselves and confessing.

Example Question #102 : Civil Rights, Amendments, And Court Cases

The right to “indigent” counsel is found where in the Constitution?

Possible Answers:

Article II, § 10

5th Amendment

6th Amendment

Article III

Correct answer:

6th Amendment

Explanation:

The right to “indigent” counsel is found in the Sixth Amendment (although not in those terms). “Indigent” counsel refers to the provision of a lawyer (generally a “Public Defender”) to a client who could otherwise ill afford legal representation. The right to indigent counsel was first expressed in Giddeon v. Wainright under the Earl Warren court.

Example Question #32 : The Bill Of Rights

Select a Sixth Amendment guarantee from the given options.

Possible Answers:

None of these answers are correct

The right to a jury made solely of your closest friends and relatives

The protection against unreasonable searches and seizures

The right to an immediate public trial

Correct answer:

None of these answers are correct

Explanation:

This is an incredibly tricky question (sorry). None of the answers are correct. “The protection against unreasonable searches and seizures” is nowhere in the Sixth Amendment—it’s found in the Fourth Amendment. The “right to a jury made solely of your closest friends and relatives” is nowhere in the Constitution period. You have the right to a jury “of your peers” (which, essentially, just means a jury of fellow citizens) you do not have the right to a jury of your closest friends and relatives. Clearly that would give you a massive boost at the expense of the prosecution. Moreover, any “close friends” or “relatives” would almost certainly be weeded out and dismissed during voir dire (jury selection, essentially).Finally, you have the right to a "speedy" public trial--but that's not what the question says! Read carefully.

Example Question #108 : Constitutional Amendments

The “confrontation clause,” which grants a right for the criminally accused to be present at trial and to cross-examine the prosecution’s witness(es) is found where?

Possible Answers:

The Sixth Amendment

The Seventh Amendment

Article I

The Habeas Corpus Act of 1995

Correct answer:

The Sixth Amendment

Explanation:

The “confrontation clause” is found in the Sixth Amendment. It recognizes the right for the criminally accused to be present at trial (that one is fairly obvious) and to cross-examine the prosecution’s witness(es) (this last “right” is a little more nebulous). At a broad level, obviously the defense has a right to cross-examine actual human witnesses—that’s one of the major purposes of a trial. Things get a little muddy, however, when the prosecution attempts to introduce, say, a document that contains hearsay evidence (that is, a statement made out of court) from a witness that is no longer available or maybe even dead. How can the defense possibly cross-examine a witness who’s not there?

Example Question #103 : Civil Rights, Amendments, And Court Cases

The right to a jury trial in a civil case in a state court is found in which amendment?

Possible Answers:

None of these answers are correct

The Twenty-Third Amendment

The Seventh Amendment

The Tenth Amendment

Correct answer:

None of these answers are correct

Explanation:

This was a very tricky question. None of the answers are correct—as always, make sure you’re thoroughly reading the question! There are two important aspect of this question: (1) it highlights “civil,” as opposed to “criminal,” and (2) it highlights “state,” as opposed to “federal.” These two things are extremely important to this question.

“The Seventh Amendment” would have been correct IF it was a civil case in federal court—that’s what the Seventh Amendment protects. But that’s NOT what the question asked—it says a civil case in a state court! Remember: The Bill of Rights, as originally written and enacted applied ONLY to the federal government; not the states. The Supreme Court has gradually, over about a century and a half started “incorporating” various provisions to apply against the states as well. The Seventh Amendment has never been incorporated against the states.

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