I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We're almost to the halfway point with this series on the Citizenship Test. This week's theme is rights & responsibilities. The following questions have to do with responsibilities reserved for U.S. Citizens, and also rights promised to all people by the U.S. government.
Question 41: What is one right or freedom in the 1st amendment?
Answers: (a) speech; (b) religion; (c) assembly; (d) press; (e) petition the government
Keep in mind you must answer one of these to get this question correct.
The five rights listed in the First Amendment are some of the most important rights in our democracy. There is a reason the Founding Fathers listed these rights first; they believed these rights were crucial for protecting the people from a corrupt government. Many of these rights of the people were infringed upon by the British before the Revolutionary War, so the Founding Fathers felt it was very important to protect them in their new country.
The freedom of speech gives you the right to say what you want, and the founders especially wanted to protect speech when it is critical of the government. Therefore, you can say what you believe and the government cannot punish you for it.
Freedom of religion protects two things: (1) your personal ability to practice or not practice any religion, and says the government can't punish you for it, and (2) prohibits the government from forcing you to practice any religion. This is discussed in more detail in Question 43 below.
Freedom of assembly protects your right to join together with others to discuss your ideas. The founders wanted to protect this right because they did not want the new government to stifle new ideas. This is why revolutionary groups and groups such as the KKK are not prohibited from meeting, even if they are against what the government says.
Freedom of the press allows journalists and the media to publish articles, even if they are critical of the government. The only restriction on this comes in times of war, when the press is prohibited from publishing news that would be harmful to national security, such as troop movements.
Freedom to petition the government is what democracy is all about. Politicians work for the people, and should listen to what you would like to see change, and take those ideas into consideration.
Question 42: What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
Answers: (a) life; (b) liberty; (c) pursuit of happiness
Keep in mind you have to provide two of these three answers to get this question correct.
The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created with certain rights that cannot be taken away, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, was familiar with the work of John Locke, an English philosopher of the 1600s. Locke first wrote about these rights in his work Two Treatises on Government, where he stated that politics exists in order to protect "life, liberty, and estate." This idea was first introduced in America when George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights in June 1776, which states that all men have the right to life and liberty, the possession of property, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson incorporated these ideas into the Declaration of Independence.
Question 43: What is freedom of religion?
Answer: You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion
There are two clauses in the First Amendment to the Constitution that discuss religion. The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause are constantly in tension, but we need both clauses to protect our religious rights. The Establishment Clause says that the government cannot establish a state religion. This clause is why we cannot force students to pray in public schools, or force people to say "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. In contrast, the Free Exercise Clause says that the government can't prevent any person from practicing his or her religion. This clause is why the government can't prevent Muslim women from wearing hijabs in public places, and can't force Amish children from attending high school.
It is very important that we have both of these clauses in our Constitution, because they protect our rights to practice whatever religion we please, or choose not to practice any religion at all, and also prevent the government from forcing us to practice a religion we don't believe in.
Question 44: What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?
Answers: (a) serve on a jury; (b) vote in a federal election
Keep in mind you only need to provide one of these answers to get this question correct.
Jury service is considered one of the highest duties of citizenship. Only US citizens may serve on a federal jury. If you are called for jury service, you must attend unless you have a qualifying excuse. You can find a list of qualifications and exemptions for federal jury service here.
Voting in a federal election is another responsibility reserved only for US citizens. Voting in an election is the best way to have your voice heard and exercise your right as a part of our democracy. Lawful permanent residents are not entitled to this right, so if you'd like to vote, you should apply for citizenship!
Question 45: Where is the Statue of Liberty?
Answer: New York (Harbor)/Liberty Island
The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886. Although designed in France, she resides on Liberty Island in Manhattan, New York. The Statue of Liberty is one of our national symbols, and was particularly powerful during the immigration wave of the early 1990s, when many immigrants flooded into New York and passed through Ellis Island on their way to a better life in the United States. The Statue of Liberty was often the first sight they saw in this country.
I hope this series has been helpful for those of you studying for the citizenship test! After next week, we will be halfway done with the questions!
As always, if you'd like to apply for citizenship, or have any other immigration matter you need assistance with, please contact us. And please enter your email address below to subscribe to our blog!