Government Limitations of Individual Freedom

(Last Updated On: January 16, 2017)

Government Limitations of Individual Freedom

The Majestic

The Majestic

Movie: The Majestic

Grade Level: 7-12, College

Subject: History, The U.S. Constitution. McCarthyism, The USA Patriot Act

Film: The Majestic

MPAA Rating: Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements.

Keywords: The Majestic, Government Limitations of Individual Freedom, constitution, McCarthyism, Senator McCarthy, USA Patriot Act, Patriot Act, the McCarthy era, the US Constitution in film, the bill of rights Jim Carey films, lesson plans, Lesson Plan, Movies in the Classroom,

Author: Cynthia Kirkeby

Affiliation: ClassBrain, Inc.

Date: 5 July 2004

Duration: 2-3 class periods

The McCarthy era was a dark time in the history of our country for the rights afforded us by our Constitution. Accused of being communists, people generated lists of supposed communist sympathizers to avoid being blacklisted or put in prison. The Majestictakes a look at this period through the eyes of an actor accused of being a Communist.



Project 1:
Compare the limitations of the rights afforded us by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights to the limitations currently being enacted by the USA Patriot Act; in particular the right of the government to hold a US citizen without being charged with a crime and without the right to counsel.

Project 2:
Watch The Majestic and/or read the excerpt below. Explore the following question: Do you agree with the statements made by Pete in the excerpt below, or do you feel that the government must be able to abridge some of our individual freedoms in order to protect the overall populace of the United States?

Project 3:
Create a poster that either celebrates one or more of our individual freedoms afforded by the Constitution and subsequent constitutional amendments, or one that warns against one or more of our individual freedoms that you feel is threatened.


Excerpt from The Majestic:

Jim Carey in The Majestic

Jim Carey in The Majestic

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Pause. Silence in the room.


She’s smiling at the TV. Her eyes are filled with tears.


He looks up at Chairman Doyle. Now fully confident.

That’s the First Amendment, Mr. Chairman. It’s the backbone of this nation. It’s everything that gives us the potential to be right and good and just — if only we’d live up to that potential. It’s what gives me the right to sit in this chair and say my peace before this committee without fear. It’s the most important part of the contract that every citizen has with this country. And even though this contract… (he holds up the book) … the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — even though they’re just pieces of paper with signatures on them — they’re the only contracts we have that are most definitely not subject to renegotiation. Not by you, Mr. Chairman, not by you, Mr. Clyde, not by any member of this committee — or anyone else — ever.


hr3162- The Patriot Act
This is the complete text of the Act. (PDF document – Adobe Acrobat Required)
Additional News, History, Analysis, and Resources regarding the USA Patriot Act
Source: The Electronic Privacy Information Center

US Supreme Court Hears Arguments Regarding ‘Enemy Combatants’
Lawyers for two Americans jailed as enemy combatants in the war on terror went before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday to challenge President Bush’s right to indefinitely detain their clients.
Source: NPR

‘Enemy Combatants
The U.S. Supreme Court says terrorist suspects held as “enemy combatants” must be allowed to challenge their detention in U.S. courts.
Source: American Bar Association

Senate Resolution 301 – The Censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy, 1954
Senator McCarthy was officially censured by the Senate. Read the official transcript.
Source: ClassBrain, Inc.

McCarthyism or “The Red Scare”
“Senator Joseph R. McCarthy was a little-known junior senator from Wisconsin until February 1950 when he claimed to possess a list of 205 card-carrying Communists employed in the U.S. Department of State.  From that moment Senator McCarthy became a tireless crusader against Communism in the early 1950s, a period that has been commonly referred to as the ‘Red Scare.’”  Read original documents related to McCarthyism from this excellent collection of documents from the Eisenhower Library.
Source: The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library

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