Citizenship: Duties, Rights, and Liberties

Standard(s) of Learning

CE.3 The student will demonstrate knowledge of citizenship and the rights, duties, and responsibilities of citizens by
  a) describing the processes by which an individual becomes a citizen of the United States;
  b) describing the First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition, and the rights guaranteed by due process and equal protection of the laws;
  c) describing the duties of citizenship, including obeying the laws, paying taxes, defending the nation, and serving in court;
  d) examining the responsibilities of citizenship, including registering and voting, communicating with government officials, participating in political campaigns, keeping informed about current issues, and respecting differing opinions in a diverse society;
  e) evaluating how civic and social duties address community needs and serve the public good.
CE.4 The student will demonstrate knowledge of personal character traits that facilitate thoughtful and effective participation in civic life by
  a) practicing trustworthiness and honesty;
  b) practicing courtesy and respect for the rights of others;
  c) practicing responsibility, accountability, and self-reliance;
  d) examining the responsibilities of citizenship, including registering and voting, communicating with government officials, participating in political campaigns, keeping informed about current issues, and respecting differing opinions in a diverse society;
  e) practicing patriotism;
  f) practicing decision-making;
  g) practicing service to the school and/or local community.
CE.10 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the judicial systems established by the Constitution of Virginia and the Constitution of the United States of America by
  d) explaining how due process protections seek to ensure justice.


Explain that a citizen is an individual with certain rights and duties under a government and who, by birth or by choice, owes allegiance to that government.

Using the following information, explain how an individual becomes a citizen:
•     The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America defines citizenship: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside.”  
•     Means of obtaining citizenship are by:
- Birth
- Naturalization 

Immigration and naturalization, particularly in the twentieth century, have led to an increasingly diverse society.

To become a citizen through naturalization, a person must demonstrate knowledge of American history and principles and the ability to speak and write English.                                                       

Explain that the Constitution of the United States of America establishes and protects the citizen's fundamental rights and liberties.                                                                                           

Explain that few rights, if any, are considered absolute.                                                         

Identify First Amendment freedoms:
•     Religion—Government may not establish an official religion, nor endorse, or unduly interfere with the free exercise of religion.
•     Speech—Individuals are free to express their opinions and beliefs.
•     Press—The press has the right to gather and publish information, including that which criticizes the government.
•     Assembly—Individuals may peacefully gather.
•     Petition—Individuals have the right to make their views known to public officials.             

Identify the Fourteenth Amendment:  Extends the due process protection to actions of the states.

Explain that, for government to be effective, citizens must fulfill their civic duties.

Identify the duties of responsible citizens:
•    Obey laws
•    Pay taxes
•    Serve in the armed forces if called
•    Serve on a jury or as a witness in court

Explain that citizens who choose not to fulfill these civic duties face legal consequences.        

Explain that a basic responsibility of citizenship is to contribute to the common good.               

Explain that civic responsibilities are fulfilled by choice; they are voluntary.                            

Identify some responsibilities of citizens:
•    Register and vote
•    Hold elective office
•    Influence government by communicating with government officials
•    Serve in voluntary, appointed positions
•    Participate in political campaigns
•    Keep informed regarding current issues
•    Respect others' rights to an equal voice in government     

Explain that a democratic society requires the active participation of its citizens.

Identify ways for citizens to participate in community service:
•    Volunteer to support democratic institutions (e.g., League of Women Voters).  
•    Express concern about the welfare of the community as a whole (e.g., environment, public health and safety, education).
•    Help to make the community a good place in which to work and live (e.g., by becoming involved with public service organizations, tutoring, volunteering in nursing homes).                    

Explain that thoughtful and effective participation in civic life depends upon the exercise of good citizenship.

Identify personal traits of good citizens:
•    Trustworthiness and honesty
•    Courtesy and respect for the rights of others
•    Responsibility, accountability, and self-reliance
•    Respect for the law
•    Patriotism

Explain that the right to due process of the law is outlined in the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Identify due process of law as the constitutional protection against unfair governmental actions and laws.

Describe how due process protections ensure justice:
•    5th Amendment—Prohibits the national government from acting in an unfair manner.       
•    14th Amendment—Prohibits state and local governments from acting in an unfair manner.            

The Supreme Court has extended the due process clauses to protect the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.     

Sample Resources

Below is an annotated list of Internet resources recommended for this organizing topic. Copyright restrictions may exist for the material on some Web sites. Please note and abide by any such restrictions.

American Promise. Farmers Insurance Group. <>. This site contains a teaching guide, and teachers can register to receive a newsletter. Activities are tied to the America's Promise (free) video.

Bill of Rights Institute. <>This site contains the text of the Bill of Rights and free lesson ideas.

“CIVITAS International.” <>. This site contains lessons and texts of many documents important to American and world governments.

Corporation for National and Community Service. <>. This site provides background information and links on community service.

“Create a Graph.” National Center for Education Statistics. <>. This site allows students to fill in fields with titles and numbers and construct full-color graphs that can be saved, copied, and printed.

Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. <>. This site includes an interactive timeline that shows forces that shaped immigration and six case studies of particular families.

First Amendment Center. <>. This is an extensive site on the First Amendment that also includes texts, lessons, and links.

“Statistics in Schools." Kids’ Corner.” U.S. Census Bureau. <>. This site provides the United States population estimate up to the second and analyzes census data by state.

Unites States Census 2010. <>. This site contains information about the United States and Virginia from the 2010 census.

Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) & Testing Released Tests and Item Sets, History and Social Science. Virginia Department of Education, 2014.
. This site provides assessment information for Civics and Economics.

“What Responsibilities Accompany Our Rights?” We the People. <>. This site provides a lesson on the first amendment freedoms. Teachers have permission to reprint and use for instructional purposes.

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