Close Menu
Freedom in the Balance

Ethical Considerations Case Studies

  • Religion and Federal Law Collide

    2015: Using Religion for Work Exemption

    Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because she says her religious beliefs don't allow her to endorse the unions.

  • Censoring Criticism

    2015: Debating the USA PATRIOT Act

    In 2015, Congress debates renewing an act that expanded the government power to combat terrorism. In doing so, it must balance protecting national security and citizens' privacy.

  • Protecting Hateful Speech

    2014: Westboro Baptist Church

    When a church group publicly blames deaths and catastrophes on America's sexual immorality, the country and courts debate First Amendment limits for offensive speech.

  • Publishing Secret Information

    2013: Snowden Spills Government Secrets

    NSA contractor Edward Snowden cooperates with journalist Glenn Greenwald, shown in photo, to leak classified information from the U.S. government.

  • Punishing the Press

    2014: Press Coverage of Ferguson Protests

    When Ferguson, Mo., erupts in violence after a police shooting, some journalists face harassment and arrest as they try to cover the breaking news story.

  • Aiding the Enemy

    2010: Advancing Peace or Terror?

    The Humanitarian Law Project challenges a law that bans working with foreign groups designated by the United States as terrorist organizations.

  • Getting Congress to Pay Attention

    2015: Flying a Petition to Congress

    A man breaks the law and risks his life to land a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn, hoping to bring attention to the need for campaign finance reform.

  • Petitioning on Government Grounds

    2015: Bringing Down the Confederate Flag

    While legislators delay a decision on removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol grounds, activist Brittany “Bree” Newsome illegally scales a flagpole to remove it.

  • The White House as Symbol and Target

    2014: Securing a Symbol

    In this midst of a security scare, students tie themselves to the White House fence to stage an attention-getting protest.

Special Thanks

This content was made possible by


Incorporate NewseumED resources in your classroom or enrich your research project with rare, hi-res primary sources.

EDClasses & Training

Request a class or workshop to get personalized instruction from Newseum Education staff.


Dive into specially curated collections of primary sources and lessons on civil rights, women's suffrage and more.