The Bill of Rights
The Constitution of the United States would probably never have been ratified by all the states without amending it and adding The Bill of Rights to include additional protection for U.S. citi-zens.
During the convention to form a “More Perfect Union” back in 1787, the delegates from each state (Except Rhode Island) came together to compromise on an agreeable form of govern-ment. The proposed plans were all dismissed until the anti-federalists suggested amending the agreement to include protection for citizen’s rights and state government. Once it was agreed upon to add in these amendments, which became our current Bill of Rights, then the Constitution was ratified successfully.
In its original version, the first draft of the constitution was considerably vague and did not explicitly spell out any protection against tyranny. The anti-federalists demanded that some amendments be added to protect the rights of U.S. citizens under this new form of government.
The preamble to the Bill of Rights reads: “The Conventions of a number of the States, hav-ing at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent miscon-struction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”
The twelve amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights serve many purposes.
- The first amendment protects our freedom of speech, religion, the press and our rights to as-semble peaceably. It also allows us to petition the government and allows the separation of church and state.
- The second amendment protects our right to keep and bear arms and each state to form a militia if necessary.
- The third amendment protects against the government taking over your home or making you take in a soldier in time of war.
- The fourth amendment protects your person and property against search and seizure without good cause and an official warrant.
- The fifth amendment allows the right to a trial by jury for all U.S. citizens and protects against “double jeopardy” where you cannot be tried for the same crime twice. It also lays out rules against the government taking your home or property without paying a fair price for it. You cannot be forced to admit you are guilty of any crime and you need not say anything during the entire trial.
- The sixth amendment promises the right to a speedy trial, a lawyer if you cannot afford one and a jury of your peers.
- The seventh amendment provides the right to a jury in a civil case.
- The eighth amendment protects U.S. citizens against cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bail.
- The ninth amendment makes it illegal for the government to change or ignore the princi-pals laid out in the Constitution.
- The tenth amendment allows the people and state to determine on a case-by-case basis anything that falls outside the previous amendments.