Creativity Magazine

You Have The Right To…

Posted on the 24 November 2012 by Rjnielsen039 @RobertJ_Nielsen

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...

Okay, so believe it or not, very few people these days actually know, understand, or care about the laws which govern where they live, nor their rights as citizens. While I can not, and will not attempt to describe the various laws and rights for every state, county, or municipality throughout the country, I can give you a brief rundown of the Bill of Rights (that is, the first ten amendments of the Constitution). These rights are arguably the most important, and apply to all citizens of the United States of America. These rights apply to you, and are here for your protection, as well as for the protection of this nation. What I’m going to do is give you the amendment, in original format, and then I’m going to summarize it in a more modern way. So let’s begin;

1st Amendment “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 thing covered here is religion and worship. You are free to worship as you choose. It doesn’t matter the religion, the rituals, whatever. Note that this does not allow you to harm yourself or others though. This amendment also protects your freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press. You, or the media, cannot be punished for what you say or think. Remember that there are limits to all things, and verbal assault still encroaches upon another, and isn’t protected here. You also have the right to petition and complain to the government without fear of persecution or arrest. Now, let me point out that the first amendment is often considered the most important because it describes the basic freedoms you have. I should also inform you that the Declaration of Independence makes clear that these rights are not given to you by any piece of paper, government, or political leader. The founding fathers were of mind that these rights are granted by God, and that governments should be formed to protect these rights, not establish them. The Declaration of Independence also asserts that any government which attempts to overthrow or remove these rights should be overthrown, and replaced with one that will. This doesn’t mean you should start trying to overthrow the government just because you are chastised for something you’ve said, or believed in, but that if say, the United States attempted to ban a specific religion, or censor it’s citizens, then a serious reform would be in order, and the founding fathers would agree. This is why so many people feel that China and nations like it are in the wrong. Moving forward…

2nd Amendment “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.”

Simply put, this amendment states that you as a United States citizen, have the right to own guns. The government cannot take this right away from the people, although laws have formed over the years stating that felons and violent offenders are severely or entirely restricted from gun ownership rights. This is to protect the rest of the citizens, by limiting access to those who may intentionally do harm with them. This amendment also gives a justification as to why we should have a military force; protection of this nation and it’s citizens.

3rd Amendment “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.”

This one is pretty simple. You cannot be forced to let a soldier or group of soldiers stay in your home during peace time. This may be necessary during war, but must still be done in an orderly and lawful fashion.

4th Amendment “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.”

This states that your property and home can not be entered and/or searched without your permission or a state authorized warrant, and to obtain such a warrant, the searching party must have a very good reason. The warrant must also state specifically what is being searched for, and where it is being searched for at. As with the 3rd amendment, this shows the importance the founding fathers placed upon property rights.

5th Amendment “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 offence 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.”

This protects you if you’re accused of a crime. If you are arrested, a good reason to put you to trial must be demonstrated. You cannot be forced to testify against yourself, and you cannot be put on trial for the same crime twice. Note that this applies to the same specific crime, not two separate crimes of a similar nature (i.e; robbery, assault, etc). Also, the government cannot seize private property without paying a fair value price for it. This right severely limits the government’s ability to harass the citizens, and forces it to adhere to a strict legal code.

6th Amendment “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 states that the government cannot just detain it’s citizens in an unfair fashion. It grants you the right to a speedy and public trial, ensuring that your trial can not be dragged out, and kept fair. It also grants you the right to a trial at or near the location where you were arrested, you must be told what you are being tried for, you must be able to know who is testifying against you, and you are ensured the right to provide witnesses, and attorneys for yourself.

7th Amendment “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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

This amendment basically covers your butt if you’re being sued. The amount is higher than twenty bucks nowadays, but simply stated, if the amount you are being sued for exceeds the current value set, you have the right to a trial by jury.

8th Amendment “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

This amendment ensures that you shall not be unjustly punished. Simply put, the punishment should fit the crime.

9th Amendment “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

The point of this amendment is to protect rights granted to you that aren’t listed in the Constitution. The framers of the Constitution felt that it’s purpose was to impose limits upon the government, not it’s citizens.

10th Amendment “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.”

People tend to forget that we are not a democracy, but a republic, and that what isn’t listed in the Constitution, is to be left up to the individual states to decide. With the growth of our nation, and our federal government, that seems to be overruled far too much, as obviously, our government quite often dictates what each state should allow or not allow, and enjoys overturning individual state mandates.

So there you have it, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. Keep in mind that these rights are yours, to protect you. Do not be afraid to invoke your rights if ever necessary, that’s why you have them! Remember that the founding fathers truly did feel that a government should never become more powerful than it’s citizens, as it is only there to protect them, and that the Constitution was meant to limit the government in order to protect you. I hope you’ve learned something from this, or at least have an easy reference if you need to win an argument between a friend and yourself.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog