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The Bill of Rights
Transcript of The Bill of Rights
Amendment 1. Religious and Political Freedom (1791)
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.
Amendment 2. Right to Bear Arms (1791)
A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Amendment 3. Quartering Troops (1971)
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment 4. Search and Seizure (1971)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In other words:
Right to religion, of speech, of the press, of peaceful assembly, and the right to petition the government with a redress of grievances.
Freedom of Religion:
Freedom of religion means that the government may not force you to accept one set of religious beliefs nor may it interfere with the way you worship.
Freedom of Speech:
This freedom entitles American citizens to say what they think, provided they do not intentionally hurt someone else's reputation by making false accusations. Neither may they make irresponsible statements deliberately harmful to others. The freedom of speech enables people to give their opinions on an issue to try to convince others to change their minds.
Freedom of the Press:
Reporters and editors can criticize the government without the risk of punishment, provided they do not deliberately tell lies. Newspapers, magazines, and books, as well as television and movie scripts, do not have to be submitted for government inspection before they are published.
Freedom of Assembly:
This freedom makes it possible for Americans to join clubs or political parties, even if those groups represent unpopular views.
Freedom to Petition:
This important freedom allows people to tell the government what they think is needed. They can try to prevent the government from acting in a certain way. They can complain to the government without fear of penalty when things aren't going the way they should.
How is the right to speech upheld?
The right to speech is not without limits. In the case of Schnech v. United States (1919), Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that this right does "not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic." There are some forms of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment, and Congress is allowed to make laws regarding certain types of expression.
How can this right be violated?
Because criminals often used unlicensed weapons to hurt others, some people have urged the national government to control the sale of guns. Other people have argued that gun control is a violation of the Second Amendment.
The Third Amendment pledges that in peacetime, citizens will never have to keep soldiers in their homes without consenting. Before the Revolution, the British forced Americans to provide lodging and food for their troops. The colonists bitterly resented this intrusion on their privacy as well as the cost of feeding hungry soldiers.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from improper searches of their bodies, possessions, or homes. It requires that a detailed warrant be issued by a judge listing what can be searched. There has to be a good reason for the search.
Amendment 5. Rights of Accused Persons (1971)
No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval force, or in the militia, when in actual service time in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Can you be tried twice for the same offense?
The prohibition against "double jeopardy" protects you from having the same charge twice brought against you for the same offense, but you can be tried on different charges related to that offense.
Amendment 6. Right to Speedy, Public Trial (1791)
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
What are the Miranda rights?
From the Supreme Court's decision in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), in which the justices established basic rules that the police must follow when questioning a suspect. If suspected of a crime, you must be told that you have a right to remain silent and that anything you say "can and will" be used against you. You also need to be informed that you have a right to an attorney and that the attorney may be present during questioning.
Amendment 7. Trial by Jury in Civil Cases (1791)
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right to trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
In other words:
The Seventh Amendment guarantees that Americans will receive a jury trial in civil (as opposed to criminal) cases involving property worth more than $20. Today, however, people do not bring such cases to federal courts unless a much larger sum of money is involved.
Amendment 8. Limits of Fines and Punishments (1791)
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
How is the 8Th Amendment upheld?
The Eighth Amendment protects against "cruel and unusual punishment." This protection has been widely debated. Consider the death penalty issue from your issues project. Some people feel that the death penalty is "cruel and unusual punishment" while others consider it justice.
The Eighth Amendment ensures that "excessive bail" is not required. Hence, someone accused of shoplifting won't have a million dollar bail. The amount of bail required is determined by the severity of the crime and the person's ability to pay the bail.
Amendment 9. Rights of People (1791) & Amendment 10. Powers of States and People (1791)
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The last two amendments address the liberties of citizens and the rights of states. The Ninth Amendment states that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not define all of the fundamental rights people have. Such rights exist whether or not they are defined. The Tenth Amendment makes a similar claim concerning the rights of the states. It holds that the states and the people have powers that are set aside and not listed item by item.
Need more info? Here's a video!
McDougal Littells's The American: Reconstruction to the 21st Century