Guilty? Teri Kanefield
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CHAPTER 5

DECIDING WHAT IS A DANGER TO SOCIETY

STUDY QUESTIONS AND WRITING PROMPTS

Should it be a crime for parents to spank their children?

Attitudes about whether husbands should be allowed to beat wives have changed over the years. Can you think of other attitudes that have changed? Do you and your parents have different ideas about what sorts of behavior should be considered crimes? What about you and your grandparents?

The North Carolina Supreme Court believed that finding Elizabeth's husband guilty would cause a greater harm and danger to society than the injuries she received from his battering her. What did the court mean?

What do you think the North Carolina Supreme Court meant by the paragraph beginning "Suppose a case came to us from a hovel . . ." (Page 44)

Consider that this case was decided in the South about 20 years after the Civil War. One of the issues in the Civil War was that states should be able govern themselves however they wished, including allowing slavery, without the federal government interferring. Does the year and place shed light on some of the court's attitudes?

FURTHER READING (HONORS LEVEL)

Read the full text of the court opinion here

How effective were the court's arguments?

If you were Elizabeth's lawyer, what arguments might you use to show the court that it is wrong?