Classifying Rights From Various Constitutions
Adapted by Tarry L. Lindquist from Lesson 2 of Constitutional Kaleidoscope: A Comparison of Individual Rights Around the Pacific Rim, written by Margaret Fisher, the Institute for Citizen Education in the Law, Seattle, WA, and Tarry L. Lindquist, and updated in 2012. Staff at the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) edited the lesson. For more information, contact AOC Court Services, 1206 Quince Street SE, PO Box 41170, Olympia, WA 98504-1170. For an electronic copy of this lesson, or to view other lesson plans, visit Educational Resources on the Washington Courts Web site at: www.courts.wa.gov/education/.
One class period (approximately 50-55 minutes)
Copies of the Constitutional Rights from Canada, China, Mexico, Philippines, and USA for the members of each country group (Constitutional Rights of these countries are on pages 149-167 in the Teaching the Bill of Rights Teacher's Guide. The teacher should prepare these ahead of time for students and the judge.)
Note: This lesson assumes the teacher has introduced students to the individual rights sections of five different constitutions from countries around the Pacific Rim. Students will have a basic understanding of the vocabulary of the rights. However, they may need some additional explanation of various concepts as they go through this lesson.
A constitution is a body of basic laws or legal rules for governing a state or country.
The purpose of a bill of rights or declaration of rights is to formally list the things the government either must do for its citizens or may not do to its citizens. Sometimes a bill of rights or declaration of rights lists the duties of the government also.
Inform students that merely because rights exist on paper, in a constitution, does not insure that they will be enforced or provided in society. If there is not an independent judiciary, a regulated police or a means for controlling government corruption and fraud, these rights may be denied in reality.
Classification of Rights
The Liberty category consists of civil rights and political rights.
Civil rights are personal rights that exist between the individual and the government. Civil rights are limits on the government's power over the individual. The civil right to life means that the government should not kill the individual. Other examples of civil rights include freedom of speech, freedom from torture, right to a fair trial, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, freedom of movement within one's own country, and the right to leave and enter one's own country.
Political rights are those rights of citizens to form and administer government. For example, the right to vote and elect the government is a political right.
The Security category consists of economic rights and social rights.
Economic rights have to do with money and government benefits. For example, the right to be supported after retirement is an economic right.
Social rights have to do with health and relations to family members. For example, the right to practice family planning is a social right.
Cultural rights have to do with education, appropriate information, recreation and leisure, and artistic and cultural experiences. For example, the right to receive an education is a cultural right.
Group rights protect a certain group within the population, such as Native American peoples or women.
Classification of Rights Worksheet
Using the following chart, classify the rights in your country's constitution into the categories listed. Your country may not have rights in every category. For example, some countries may only have two or three types of rights. On the second page, list the duties in your country's constitution also.
Classification of Rights Worksheet
List the duties described by your constitution.
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