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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
JAMES O. EASTLAND, Mississippi, Chairman JOHN L. MCCLELLAN, Arkansas
ROMAN L. HRUSKA, Nebraska SAM J. ERVIN, JR., North Carolina
HIRAM L. FONG, Hawaii PHILIP A. HART, Michigan
HUGH SCOTT, Pennsylvania EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts STROM THURMOND, South Carolina BIRCH E. BAYH, Indiana
MARLOW W. COOK, Kentucky QUENTIN BURDICK, North Dakota
CHARLES MCC. MATHIAS, JR., Maryland ROBERT C. BYRD, West Virginia
EDWARD J. GURNEY, Florida JOHN V. TUNNEY, California
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
SAMJ. ERVIN, JR., North Carolina, Chairman JOHN L. MCCLELLAN, Arkansas
ROMAN L. HRUSKA, Nebraska EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts HIRAM L. FONG, Hawaii BIRCH E. BAYH, Indiana
STROM THURMOND, South Carolina ROBERT C. BYRD, West Virginia
HUGH SCOTT, Pennsylvania
LAWRENCE M. BASKIR, Chief Counsel and Staff Director
THE LAYMAN'S GUIDE TO THE CONSTITUTION
The “Layman's Guide to Constitutional Rights” was first compiled in 1961 in response to thousands of requests from citizens who wanted to know what their rights were under the Constitution of the United States. The Guide was designed to define simply and clearly the constitutional rights of American citizens.
The 1961 edition proved to be an outstanding success and was used by teachers across the land in school courses in civics and American government. It has been reprinted in magazines and newspapers and used as a resource for groups and organizations studying American government. It has been among the most popular publications sold by the Government Printing Office. Over 62,000 copies of the first edition were sold, and in 1966 a new edition, incorporating the developments that had occurred in the law over the five-year period, was prepared by the Constitutional Rights Subcommittee. Now six years later, that edition, too, has gone out of print after a publication of over 37,000 copies. Because the demand for the Guide continues and has even increased as Americans have become more conscious of the importance of their constitutional liberties, the Subcommittee has prepared this new third revised edition.
The rights guaranteed by our Constitution are enduring ones. However, there have been and will continue to be new extensions of these rights as they are applied by the courts and the legislatures to new situations. Therefore, the earlier edition has been updated to include many of the latest judicial and legislative interpretations. Its purpose, however, is still the same. It does not purport to be a comprehensive treatise on constitutional law and it should not be considered an exhaustive analysis of constitutional controversies. Rather, it provides the layman with a brief explanation of how his rights have been interpreted, applied and protected.
It is essential to the continuing vitality of these rights that citizens are aware of them, exercise them, and raise their voices when they find them jeopardized. As Judge Learned Hand eloquently wrote:
"I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”
Ultimately, the preservation of personal liberties will be assured only by the fervent efforts of ordinary citizens. The necessary first step is an understanding of basic liberties which the Subcommittee hopes this booklet will provide.
SAM J. ERVIN, Jr., Chairman, Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights.