AP US Government Practice Test: Civil Liberties & Civil Rights

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Question 1
Questions 1–3 refer to the passage below:

The state of Arizona executed Joseph R. Wood III on Wednesday. For those Americans who, as we do, consider the death penalty to be a dehumanizing punishment unworthy of our advanced society, that sentence should be enough to elicit profound moral discomfort. Then there was the way it happened: Executioners pumped Mr. Wood with a two-drug regimen meant to lull him toward death peacefully and quickly. Instead, he remained alive for nearly two hours, gasping and snorting, as his lawyer frantically appealed to a judge to call off the botched execution.
. . .
We argue that the public’s increasing aversion should be based on concerns about issues deeper than just the method of killing inmates. There are a variety of practical objections: The death penalty is extremely expensive to administer; it is often applied to men with diminished mental capacity or other mental disorders. Racial disparities in death penalty sentencing and too-frequent death-row exonerations demonstrate that the criminal justice system has not applied the ultimate punishment fairly. Then there is the simple fact that this complex, costly and unattractive system is wholly unnecessary to punish even depraved criminals. Any combination of these factors points to the truth that the death penalty in the United States is deeply unwise. It is, as practiced, cruel and unusual.

—Source: Why the U.S. Should End the Death Penalty, Washington Post, July 26, 2014.
 
The editorial above implies that capital punishment is a violation of which of the following Constitutional amendments?

A
Fifth and Sixth
B
Fifth and Eighth
C
Sixth and Fourteenth
D
Eighth and Fourteenth
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fourteenth Amendment protects people against racial discrimination. The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination, which means answers (A) and (B) can be eliminated. The Sixth Amendment involves rights of accused persons in criminal cases, which eliminates answers (A) and (C).
Question 2
The state of Arizona executed Joseph R. Wood III on Wednesday. For those Americans who, as we do, consider the death penalty to be a dehumanizing punishment unworthy of our advanced society, that sentence should be enough to elicit profound moral discomfort. Then there was the way it happened: Executioners pumped Mr. Wood with a two-drug regimen meant to lull him toward death peacefully and quickly. Instead, he remained alive for nearly two hours, gasping and snorting, as his lawyer frantically appealed to a judge to call off the botched execution.
. . .
We argue that the public’s increasing aversion should be based on concerns about issues deeper than just the method of killing inmates. There are a variety of practical objections: The death penalty is extremely expensive to administer; it is often applied to men with diminished mental capacity or other mental disorders. Racial disparities in death penalty sentencing and too-frequent death-row exonerations demonstrate that the criminal justice system has not applied the ultimate punishment fairly. Then there is the simple fact that this complex, costly and unattractive system is wholly unnecessary to punish even depraved criminals. Any combination of these factors points to the truth that the death penalty in the United States is deeply unwise. It is, as practiced, cruel and unusual.

—Source: Why the U.S. Should End the Death Penalty, Washington Post, July 26, 2014.
 
Which amendment could be used to counter the editorial?

A
First
B
Second
C
Ninth
D
Tenth
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The Tenth Amendment is rights of the states. Typically, most law enforcement powers have been left to the states. In this case, Wood was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by the State of Arizona. The First Amendment (A) includes freedoms of religion, speech, and the press and the rights to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The Second Amendment (B) is the right to base arms. The Ninth Amendment (C) is the rights of the people not enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution.
Question 3
The state of Arizona executed Joseph R. Wood III on Wednesday. For those Americans who, as we do, consider the death penalty to be a dehumanizing punishment unworthy of our advanced society, that sentence should be enough to elicit profound moral discomfort. Then there was the way it happened: Executioners pumped Mr. Wood with a two-drug regimen meant to lull him toward death peacefully and quickly. Instead, he remained alive for nearly two hours, gasping and snorting, as his lawyer frantically appealed to a judge to call off the botched execution.
. . .
We argue that the public’s increasing aversion should be based on concerns about issues deeper than just the method of killing inmates. There are a variety of practical objections: The death penalty is extremely expensive to administer; it is often applied to men with diminished mental capacity or other mental disorders. Racial disparities in death penalty sentencing and too-frequent death-row exonerations demonstrate that the criminal justice system has not applied the ultimate punishment fairly. Then there is the simple fact that this complex, costly and unattractive system is wholly unnecessary to punish even depraved criminals. Any combination of these factors points to the truth that the death penalty in the United States is deeply unwise. It is, as practiced, cruel and unusual.

—Source: Why the U.S. Should End the Death Penalty, Washington Post, July 26, 2014.
 
If the Supreme Court overturned Arizona’s capital punishment law, then which of the following is the most likely outcome?

A
Arizona would have to compensate the family of Joseph Wood III.
B
All of Arizona’s inmates facing lethal injection would be set free.
C
All of Arizona’s inmates facing lethal injection would have their sentences commuted.
D
All inmates facing lethal injection in any state would have their sentences commuted or would be set free depending on the state.
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). If the court overturned the Arizona law, then the convictions would be upheld, only the sentences would be reduced from death to something else, probably life in prison. Therefore, (B) is incorrect. Answer (D) is plausible, but it is incorrect because the Supreme Court is only ruling on the Arizona law. Answer (A) is not possible unless Wood was wrongly convicted, and his conviction is not at issue here.
Question 4
Questions 4–5 refer to the political cartoon below:

The civil liberty referenced in this cartoon is found in which amendment to the Constitution?

A
First
B
Third
C
Fourth
D
Seventh
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The Fourth Amendment provides for protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The First Amendment (A) includes freedoms of religion, speech, and the press and the rights to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The Third Amendment (B) is the prohibition against the quartering of soldiers. The Seventh Amendment (D) involves rights in civil cases.
Question 5

Which of the following policies would a civil libertarian most likely support?

A
A ban on hate speech
B
A constitutional amendment to criminalize marijuana
C
Legalization of physician-assisted suicide
D
Legalization of enhanced interrogation techniques
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Civil libertarianism is a political philosophy which emphasizes the supremacy of individual rights and personal freedoms over the authority of the state. It emphasizes civil liberties and civil rights. Proponents typically support free speech, drug legalization, marriage equality, and physician assisted suicide. They oppose government spying and any type of interrogation that could be considered torture.
Question 6
Questions 6–7 refer to the chart below:

Based on the table above, which of these states made the most progress in decreasing the voting gap between blacks and whites from 1965 until 2004?

A
Alabama
B
Louisiana
C
South Carolina
D
Virginia
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Of the four states in the question, Alabama went from the greatest gap to the smallest gap.
Question 7

Which of the following is the most likely cause of this reduction in the voting gap?

A
Brown v. The Board of Education
B
Shaw v. Reno
C
Title IX
D
The Voting Rights Act
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The Voting Rights Act of 1965 reduced legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote. Brown v. The Board of Education (A) was the school desegregation case. Shaw v. Reno (B) was about racial gerrymandering. Title IX (C) is concerned with women and girls in sports.
Question 8
Questions 8–9 refer to the chart below:

Which of the following statements is true based on the data above?

A
Native American enrollment in charter schools and traditional public schools is declining.
B
Out of all the groups depicted, Asians in charter schools showed the least amount of change.
C
Minnesota’s charter schools enroll more students of color than traditional public schools do.
D
Black, Hispanic, and white students were more likely to attend segregated charter schools in 2010–11 than they were in 2000–01.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The bar graph does not show total enrollment in school, so answers (A) and (C) are not relevant. Segregation for Asian charter school students declined by 3 percent, but segregation for Hispanic traditional public school students declined by 2 percent, so answer (B) is incorrect.
Question 9
Questions 8–9 refer to the chart below:

Which of the following is the most logical conclusion based on the graph above?

A
Charter schools are more likely than public schools to enroll students of a single race.
B
Charter schools are less likely than public schools to bus students for racial integration.
C
Public schools are making a greater effort to integrate students than charter schools are.
D
As Native Americans assimilate into white society, they are less likely to attend segregated schools.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Answers (B), (C), and (D) are plausible, but they cannot be derived from the data in the graph. Answer (A) is the only choice that can be explicitly demonstrated by the graph.
Question 10
Which of the following activities could be prohibited by law based on New York Times Co. v. United States (1971)?

A
Someone yells “Fire!” in a crowded theater.
B
A newspaper editor criticizes the president of the United States.
C
A student threatens to criticize a teacher in the school newspaper.
D
A blogger announces she will publish classified information on a government surveillance program.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). In the New York Times case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Unites States government could exercise “prior restraint” and prevent the newspaper from printing classified documents that would pose a threat to the safety of Americans. Answer (A) is associated with Schenk v. United States (1919). Other court cases have ruled that the First Amendment’s freedom of the press allows journalists to criticize government officials, which rules out answer (B). The court, however, does not extend that right to student journalists because school newspapers are owned by the school and may, therefore, be censored by the school. Thus, answer (C) may be eliminated.
Question 11
The police arrest a suspect, who then immediately confesses to the crime before he is read his rights. The admission of guilt is

A
admissible in court under Gideon v. Wainwright (1962).
B
not admissible in court under Gideon v. Wainwright (1962).
C
admissible in court under Miranda v. Arizona (1965).
D
not admissible in court under Miranda v. Arizona (1965).
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent, must be read to suspects before questioning, but if a suspect blurts out a confession before the police have opportunity to read him those rights, then the admission is admissible in court. Gideon v. Wainwright is concerned with the right to counsel for people accused of a crime who cannot afford an attorney.
Question 12
The police knock on Marvin’s door to ask him a few questions about a man next door who has been accused of domestic violence. Marvin answers the door. The police see a lit marijuana cigarette and a bag of marijuana inside the house. They then walk in to seize the drugs and notice the house is full of electronics that were recently reported stolen. Which of the following is true?

A
Both the marijuana and electronics are subject to the exclusionary rule.
B
Neither the marijuana nor the electronics are subject to the exclusionary rule.
C
The marijuana is subject to the exclusionary rule, but the electronics are not.
D
The electronics is subject to the exclusionary rule, but the marijuana are not.
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The exclusionary rule says evidence illegally obtained must be excluded at trial. Because the marijuana was sitting in plain sight, not warrant is needed to enter the house and seize it. Therefore, answers (A) and (C) may be eliminated. The seizure of the marijuana led to the discovery of the electronics, which were also sitting in the open. Therefore, the electronics are also not subject to the exclusionary rule. Thus, answer (D) may be eliminated.

If the electronics would have been behind a closed door, then most likely, the electronics would have been subject to the exclusionary rule, but being out in the open, they fall under the “plain sight exception” to the exclusionary rule. Marvin could have avoided all these problems by not breaking the law or by not answering the door.
Question 13
Which of the following is a correct understanding of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”?

A
It condoned the breaking of unjust laws.
B
It encouraged his followers to violent protest.
C
It encouraged people to let the courts settle segregation matters.
D
It set the events into motion that led to Brown v. the Board of Education (1954).
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Dr. King wrote that people who break unjust laws obey a higher law, which he implied was God’s law. He opposed violent protest (B), and he encouraged other ministers to get involved indirect action and not wait for the courts to settle matters (C). He wrote the letter in 1963, so answer (D) cannot possibly be correct.
Question 14
The Supreme Court has ruled that affirmative action laws

A
are not constitutional.
B
may use racial quotas in hiring job applicants.
C
may only count race as a “plus” when hiring job applicants.
D
may be used in institutions of higher learning but are not constitutional in the workplace.
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Affirmative action policies used quotas (B) until the Supreme Court ruled those policies unconstitutional. However, the court also ruled that race could still be a factor in hiring employees or admitting students to college. Therefore, answers (A) and (D) are wrong.
Question 15
The Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is constitutional under

A
the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.
B
the rights of the people under the Ninth Amendment.
C
the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
D
the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment says that all people must be treated equally by the federal and state governments. The free exercise clause (A) is the free exercise of religion, not the right to marry. The Equal Rights Amendment (D) was never ratified and involved sexual equality, not equality between people who identify as LGBTQ. The Ninth Amendment (B) is plausible, but the Supreme Court did not rule on that basis.
Question 16
The free-exercise clause is most closely associated with

A
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
B
Schenck v. United States (1919)
C
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
D
Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). In Wisconsin v. Yoder, the Supreme Court ruled the compulsory education laws that required children to attend school beyond the eighth grade violated the Amish’s free exercise of their religious beliefs. Engel v. Vitale (A) involves the establishment clause, Schenck v. United States (B) is about freedom of speech, and Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (C) was about symbolic speech and student speech.
Question 17
Roe v. Wade (1973)

A
incorporated the right to privacy.
B
applied the right to privacy to abortions.
C
legalized abortion under all circumstances.
D
required spousal notification to get an abortion.
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The right to privacy was incorporated a few years before Roe v. Wade, so answer (A) is incorrect. It allowed states to regulate abortions in the third trimester, so answer (C) is also incorrect. Spousal notification (D) has never been considered constitutional by the Supreme Court.
Question 18
Which of the following amendments has most recently been incorporated?

A
Second
B
Tenth
C
Fourteenth
D
Twenty-Seventh
Question 18 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The 2nd Amendment was incorporated in McDonald v. Chicago (2010). The 10th Amendment (B) is concerned with the rights of the states, and therefore, incorporating would be redundant. The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment (C) is what makes incorporation possible. The 27th Amendment (D) limits congressional pay raises and, thus, is not relevant to the question.
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