The Bill of Rights


The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are commonly referred to as the Bill of Rights. They were proposed by Congress during its first session and were adopted in 1791. At first, only the federal government was affected by the restrictions found in the following Amendments. Later however, many of the of the restrictions were added to the state governments as well.



Amendment I

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.

The First Amendment grants all people the right to the freedom of religion, speech, and the press, to gather together peacefully, and also to petition against laws that they do not see fit. One thing that needs to be understood however, is that people are expected to use these rights with proper responsibility, and if their conduct interferes with the rights of others, than these rights may be taken away from the said person.



Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The Second Amendment grants all people the right to keep and own guns. This right however, may be restricted from the people as the government sees fit at any time. Both federal and state governments have the power to regulate the possession and use of firearms, by doing things such as requiring the license of guns for owners, and by banning the carrying of concealed weapons.



Amendment III

No soldier shall, in the time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in any time of war, but in a manner to be prescribe by law.

The 3rd Amendment was written to prevent the act of quartering . The writers of the Amendments did not agree with the act that had been a common practice of the British during the American Revolution, and wanted to make sure that it would not happen again. Even though this Amendment is of little importance today, Congress does have the power to authorize the boarding of troops in private homes during times of war.



Amendment IV

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.

Just like the 3rd Amendment, this amendment was written to prevent actions similar of that of the British during the American Revolution. This amendment states that it illegal to search or seize any land, person, or object without an authorized court warrant. In order to be official this warrant must be issued by a judge, must have a good reason for its use, and it must describe in specific terms the place that is to be searched and the person or items that are to be seized. Exceptions to having a search warrant are if police officers or officials have been a witness to a crime or are chasing a criminal. Police officers also do not need a warrant to search a moving object, such as a car or train, as it could vanish while they are filing for a warrant.



Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service 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.

The Fifth Amendment protects the legal rights of all people in a criminal case. No person may be brought to trial for an infraction of the law without a written statement of the offense by a grand jury. Also, a person may not be tried for the same crime twice. However, if a person commits an act which violates both federal and state law, that person may be tried for crime in both the federal and state courts. The Fifth Amendment states that people in criminal proceedings may not be forced to give testimony against themselves. It also states that while the government must act fairly in its relations with people, it also must proceed under fair laws in its dealings with people. Finally, the Fifth Amendment states that government cannot take private property for public use with out adequate payment.



Amendment VI

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 wherein 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.

This amendments protects a tried citizen's right in court. The immediate and required trials are to prevent a tried citizen from being unfairly tried and punished. The necessary results of a speedy trial also prevent a person from concluding with an inadequate conclusion to a crime committed. All charged persons are informed of their punishment as a result of the breaking of a law. The charged citizen will immediately report to a justified court to be judged for their incourtesy toward the local laws. The tried are allowed the right to use witnesses to back their trial. Witnesses are to follow by the classified rules concerning their representation. All charged citizens are entitled to such representation and counsel. All charged citizens are granted the right to counsel whether obtainable by themselves or by the government. In exchange for this, the court is allowed any questioning concerning the issue being faced by the trial.



Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of 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.

The seventh amendment concerns the way federal courts deal with trials. These disputes deal with groups and individual people. The controversy determines the price of the trial. At the price of $20, a jury by trial can be acquired, although a normal argument would cost around $200.



Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Bail is acquired at the time of the trial. Ignoring the trial may result in bails being denied. For such severe crimes as murder, however, bail may not be acquired by the convicted person. A punishment is ruled inhumane if it is severely cruel and beyond the normal rulings of punishment.The punishment must be fairly ruled and even in accordance to the severity of the crime. Normally this occurrence does not happen often as a result of the rulings in the laws of clear punishments for crimes.



Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The 9th Amendment states that all rights of the people have not necessarily been written in the Constitution. However, just because a certain right is not listed in the Constitution does not mean that the said right can be with held from any person. The 9th Amendment protects all of these unwritten rights and entitles all people to them.



Amendment X

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 10th Amendment protects the specific reserved powers of the states. This means that even though all people have to follow the Constitution, all states are also entitled to their own laws, and the people residing in that state must abide by them. With the addition of the 14th Amendment however, state's powers, especially its police powers, are subject to closer scrutiny by the government, and are monitored more closely.