An Alvin Constitutional Lawyer Explains Constitutional Law
As the Constitution is the foundation of the United States, constitutional law deals with some of the fundamental relationships within our society. This includes relationships among the states, the states and the federal government, the three branches (executive, legislative, judicial) of the federal government, and the individual’s federal and state government rights. Constitutional law is a broad and deep area of the law and possibly one of the most important areas of law. An Alvin constitutional attorney at DeKeyzer Law handles a wide variety of constitutional law issues, such as:
- Free speech
- The right to assemble
- Freedom of press
- Right of the people to keep and bear arms (Gun Rights)
- Civil rights and freedom from discrimination
- Equal protection
- Affirmative Action
- Economic discrimination
- Protection of personal liberties
- Employment discrimination
- Protection of private property rights
Free Speech in Texas
The freedom of speech, found in the First Amendment of the Constitution, covers a wide variety of speech, including, among others:
- The freedom to engage in symbolic speech; for example, burning the flag in protest
- The freedom of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war
- The freedom to use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages
- The freedom to contribute money, under certain circumstances, to political campaigns
- The freedom to advertise commercial products and professional services, with some restrictions
However, the freedom of speech does not include examples such as:
- The right to create a clear and present danger or likely to incite imminent lawless action
- The right to make or distribute obscene materials
- The right to burn draft cards as an anti-war protest
- The right of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event
- The right of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event
An Alvin constitutional lawyer at DeKeyzer Law understands the complexities of freedom of speech rights and can defend your rights if your speech is unlawfully repressed.
The Right to Assemble
The freedom to assemble, also found in the Constitution’s First Amendment, covers a wide variety of rights. This states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The right to assemble is merged with the rights to petition, freedom of speech, freedom of the press. All four rights are often considered together as generalized freedom of expression. If your right to expression has been unlawfully suppressed, an Alvin constitutional attorney at DeKeyzer Law can analyze your specific facts and apply them to these rights.
Freedom of the Press
Freedom of the press is one of the “pillars” of free speech. Freedom of the press has been described rhetorically as the “fourth branch” of government, and the protection of freedom of the press is intended to allow the press to act as a “watchdog” of the three actual branches of government. The media serves as a distributor of information regarding the actions taken by the three branches of government, allowing the people to organize, protest, or vote based on that information.
If you encounter any type of freedom of press suppression, an Alvin constitutional lawyer at DeKeyzer Law can help you sort through the complicated issues and protect your constitutional rights.
Defamation in Texas
Defamation is considered a statement that injures a third party’s reputation. Defamation can be committed in two ways: (1) libel, which concerns written statements, and (2) slander, which concerns oral statements. The First Amendment does not protect defamation. However, that clash of rights is often litigated because it has been claimed that protecting defamation has a “chilling effect” on free speech. Making a defamatory statement is protected if it is true; in other words, truth is an absolute defense to defamation.
The elements a plaintiff must prove are:
- A false statement purporting to be fact
- Publication or communication of that statement to a third person
- Fault amounting to at least negligence
- Damages or some harm caused to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement.
Some states vary these elements in their anti-defamation statutes. You should review your state’s defamation laws and let an Alvin constitutional attorney at DeKeyzer Law help if you are involved in a defamation dispute. We understand the law and have developed strategies for people defamed or accused of defamation.
Civil Rights and Freedom from Discrimination
Civil rights are the rights to personal liberty established by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution and various Congressional acts and protect minorities from various types of discrimination. Discrimination is the violation of an individual’s civil rights, whereby the civil rights of such individuals are violated, denied, or interfered with because of the individual’s membership in a particular group or class.
The federal government, states, and the courts have fashioned statutes and judicial decisions aimed at preventing discrimination based on a person’s race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and, in some instances, sexual orientation. An Alvin constitutional lawyer will vigorously defend you if your civil rights have been violated.
Equal protection is the idea that a governmental body may not deny people equal protection of its governing laws.
Under the Constitution, the Due Process Clause under the Fifth Amendment requires the U.S. federal government to practice equal protection. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause requires states to practice equal protection. Equal protection requires a state to govern impartially, that is to say, not to draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective. The equal protection clauses of the Constitution are critical to the protection of civil rights. An Alvin constitutional lawyer at DeKeyzer Law can help if you’ve experienced unequal protection under the law. We believe in equal rights and are willing to fight for them.
Economic discrimination refers to discrimination in the workplace based on economic criteria. For example, job availability, wages, the prices or availability of goods and services, and the amount of capital investment funding available to minorities for business all contribute to economic discrimination.
Essentially, if job opportunities, salaries, the costs of goods and services, interest rates, the availability of funding, the cost of such funding, or any similar economic factor is higher for minorities than for everyone else, this is economic discrimination. Economic discrimination happens to individuals based on their age, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or other classes that are legally protected from discrimination.
At DeKeyzer Law, we’ve seen the devastation, both economically and psychologically, that economic discrimination causes—we’ll help you fight for the economic equality you deserve.
Protection of Personal Liberties in Texas
Personal or civil liberties are constitutionally protected rights (primarily from the First Amendment). They have been described as natural rights which are inherent to each person.
The authors of the Constitution recognized that every person has certain natural rights, and the purpose of the Constitution is, for the most part, designed to prohibit the government from repressing these rights rather than proactively providing for these rights. If you have experienced any type of suppression of a personal or civil right, let an experienced Alvin constitutional attorney at DeKeyzer Law help you protect these rights.
Employment Discrimination laws prohibit discrimination by employers based on so-called “protected classes” or membership in the definable groups such as race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age. Discriminatory practices include prejudice in hiring, termination, job assignment, promotion, compensation, and discriminatory acts such as retaliation and various types of harassment. The main body of employment discrimination laws consists of federal and state statutes.
To effectively fight against employment discrimination, you need an Alvin constitutional lawyer who knows and understands the various strategies for fighting against discrimination—employment discrimination cases are exceptionally complicated and notoriously difficult to prove.
Protection of Private Property Rights
The authors of the Constitution understood that private property, and the ownership of private property, were the linchpins of prosperity and of no less than freedom itself. Therefore, the Constitution, various state laws, and common law have developed laws protecting property rights, including the rights of people to freely acquire, use, and dispose of their private property.
If your property is in danger of being unfairly taken from you, you’ll need the experience of an Alvin constitutional attorney at DeKeyzer Law to help you protect your rights.
The Texas Citizens Participation Act
The advent of social media has led to an exponential rise in consumer complaints and bad reviews, which today’s businesses take very seriously because negative comments can seriously hamper a businesses’ ability to expand its customer base. Many businesses have responded with disparagement lawsuits, but when a customer’s complaint is true, these disparagement lawsuits have a chilling effect on customers’ legitimate free speech.
In Texas, Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Chapter 27, also known as the Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (Anti-SLAPP), was designed to prevent retaliatory lawsuits that are Intended to silence constitutional rights. The purpose of Anti-SLAPP is self-proclaimed: to “encourage and safeguard the constitutional rights of persons to petition, speak freely, associate freely, and otherwise participate in government to the maximum extent provided by law.”
TCPA allows individuals and organizations facing a frivolous-type lawsuit, including, beyond the obvious defamation claims, claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, gross negligence, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and any other claim that impinges on their constitutional rights to petition association, and free speech the ability to quickly resolve the issue. This is done by filing a Motion to Dismiss (an “anti-SLAPP motion”), upon which the court must rule within 60 days after the motion is served.
Since its enactment, Anti-SLAPP has become an effective deterrent to those seeking to chill free speech through the use of the court’s system, allowing individuals and organizations to criticize goods or services obtained on the marketplace more freely. One significant AntiSLAPP deterrent is the fee-shifting provisions contained in the TCPA, allowing successful Anti-SLAPP petitioners to pay court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses incurred from defending against the action, along with substantial fines “sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions ….” In other words, costs and punitive damages.
How an Alvin Constitutional Lawyer Can Help You Protect All of Your Constitutional Rights
An Alvin constitutional attorney at DeKeyzer Law will analyze your facts, decide which constitutional issues are involved, develop strategies for arguments, and either negotiate a favorable settlement or take your case to trial. We won’t rest until we’ve established and enforced your constitutional rights.
Contact us today to speak to one of our experienced attorneys; we represent clients in Harris County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, or anywhere in Texas.