Bill of Rights and the Amendments to The Constitution

Bill of Rightsand the Amendments to The Constitution

Bill of Rights

Amendments to the Constitution

(The procedure for changing the United States Constitution is Article V - Mode of Amendment)

(The Preamble to The Bill of Rights)

showing the heading of the Bill of Rights

Congress OF THE United States

The Ten Original Amendments: The Bill of Rights. Passed by Congres September 25, 1789. Ratified December 15, 1791.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 defence.
  7. 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.
  8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
  10. 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.
  11. The later amendments to the constitution

  12. The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
    Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Ratified February 7, 1795.
  13. The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a =majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
    passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified July 27, 1804.
  14. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
    Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.
    There is discussion if there was an earlier 13th amendment, which somehow disappeared from the list of amendments around the end of the civil war. Some Ultra-right wingers claim that this amendment implies that lawyers cannot serve in government. There is also a good refutation of these arguments.
  15. Section 1.
    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    Section 2.
    Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
    Section 3.
    No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
    Section 4.
    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
    Section 5.
    The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
    Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868
  16. Section 1.
    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude--
    Section 2.
    The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation--
    Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.
  17. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States and without regard to any census or enumeration.
    Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.
  18. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature.
    When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
    This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
    Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.
  19. After one year from the ratification of this article, the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
    The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by Congress.
    Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Altered by Amendment 21
  20. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any States on account of sex.
    The Congress shall have power by appropriate legislation to enforce the provisions of this article.
    Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.
  21. Section 1.
    The terms of the President and Vice-President shall end at noon on the twentieth day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the third day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
    Section 2.
    The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the third day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
    Section 3.
    If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President-elect shall have died, the Vice-President-elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President-elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice-President-elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President-elect nor a Vice-President-elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice-President shall have qualified.
    Section 4.
    The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice-President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
    Section 5.
    Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
    Section 6.
    This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
  22. Section 1.
    The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
    Section 2.
    The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
    Section 3.
    The article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
    Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.
  23. Section 1.
    No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who May be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
    Section 2.
    This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
    Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.
  24. Section 1.
    The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the district and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
    Section 2.
    The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.
  25. Section 1.
    The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
    Section 2.
    The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.
  26. Section 1.
    In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
    Section 2.
    Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
    Section 3.
    Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
    Section 4.
    Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
    Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four day to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
    Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.
  27. Section 1.
    The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
    Section 2.
    The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified June 30, 1971.
  28. No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
    (1992)
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The need for Constitutional Amendments was apparent as soon as the Constitution was approved. While the state delegates gathered in Philadelphia for the United States Constitutional Convention mostly agreed that the Constitution was necessary for the country to prosper, many of the leaders were not satisfied with the document as it was written.


For example, Benjamin Franklin famously noted that he did not approve of everything written in the Constitution at the time of singing it. However, he also stated that he likely never would. Because it was “near perfection” in his mind, though, he supported the document and encouraged his peers to adopt the policies it contained.

George Mason, on the other hand, requested that a separate Bill of Rights should be added later. Many others agreed with him, and the Constitution was then submitted to the states for approval, a process that took nearly two years.

On June 8, 1789, three months after the Constitution went into effect, James Madison proposed a Bill of Rights to Congress. Although he reiterated the need for some changes to be made, he also expressed his fear that the entire Constitution could be altered some day. Few leaders wanted to see the ideals and structure of the Constitution changed in any way.

Click an Admendment Below for more information

I

Amendment

Article I
Freedom of expression and religion

What Does the First Amendment Mean?

There are many key phrases in the first Amendment. Here are some explanations on what exactly they mean.

Freedom of religion: The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents the government from setting up or establishing an official religion of the country. American Citizens have the freedom to attend a church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or other house of worship of their choice. They can also choose to not be involved in any religion as well. It is unlawful for others to persecute or harrass others because of their religion.

Freedom of speech: The First Amendment of the United States Constitution stops the government from making any laws that may stop us from saying what we feel or think. The American people have the right to share their opinions with other people or criticize the government.

Freedom of the press: Freedom of the press means we have the right to get information from many different sources of information. The government does not have the power to control what is broadcasted on radio or TV, what is printed in books or newspapers, or what is offered online. American citizens can request time on TV to respond to any views that they disagree with. They can also write letters to newspapers, which might be printed for others readers to see. Americans can also pass out leaflets that state their opinions. They may also their own online web pages that have their opinions.

Freedom of assembly: American citizens have the right to come together in private and public gatherings. Citizens can join groups for religious, social, recreational, or political reasons. By organizing in order to act on a common idea and accomplish a common goal, American citizens can more easily spread their ideas to others.

Right to petition: The right to petition the government means that American citizens can ask for adjustments or changes in the government. Citizens can do this by collecting signatures for petitions and sending them to elected representatives. They can also call, e-mail, or write to their elected representatives as well. Another way they can petition the government is by creating support groups that try to cause change by lobbying the government.

II

Amendment

Article II
Bearing Arms and owning guns

What Does the Second Amendment Mean?

The Second Amendment is only a sentence long. However, there are some very important phrases that need to be carefully looked at. Here are some explanations for key phrases in the Second Amendment.

Militia: During early American history, all males who were between the ages of sixteen to sixty were required to be a part of the local militia in their towns and communities. Almost everyone during this time used and owned guns. The few men who did not use or own a gun were required by law to pay a small fee instead of participating in the military services of their communities. These militias defended the communities against Indian raids and revolved, acted as a police force when it was needed, and was also available to be called upon to defense either the State or of the United States of America if it was needed.

Bear arms: When the Second Amendment was written, arms meant weapons. The word arms did not necessarily only mean guns, but it definitely included guns. The Second Amendment did not specifically explain what categories or types of arms nor did it list what weapons were considered arms. When you bear arms, this means you physically carry weapon. You may have arms in your home as well as on your person.

Shall not be infringed: The Second Amendment does not grant any right to bear arms. Furthermore, the rest of the Bill of Rights does not describe any right to do so. These rights are thought of as natural rights or God-given rights. In the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment is just a reminder to the government that they should not try to stop people from having this right.

III

Amendment

Article III
Quartering Soldiers; housing military without permission

History of the Third Amendment

During the American Revolutionary War, American colonists were often asked to allow soldiers to temporarily live in their homes. Even before the Revolutionary war, the British government had passed two separate acts called the Quartering Acts. One of these acts were a part of the Intolerable Acts, which were thought to greatly violate the colonists’ privacy.

Because British soldiers did not have bases across the colonies, the soldiers needed somewhere to stay at night. After the Quartering Acts were passed, a soldier could demand to say in barns, uninhabited houses, or in places like stables, bars, and inns. British soldiers could also take the property of the American colonists during the Revolutionary War. The American colonists were very angry about this, which is why the Third Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights.

The Third Amendment was introduced by James Madison. The Third Amendment said that no soldier could demand a place to stay during wartime, although a soldier of the United States government could ask someone for a place to stay. During war time, a soldier might be able to occupy a property for a short period of time. However, during peacetime, the lawful property owners’ rights were much more important than the military’s rights. Because of this property owners had the legal right to refuse to quarter a solider if they wanted to.

Americans did still quarter soldiers, even until the Civil War. Since then, the Third Amendment has been only been applied on very few occasions.

Although we do not quarter soldiers as much anymore, the Third Amendment is still very important because it looks at the idea of a person’s right to privacy. The Third Amendment works to protect the privacy of every American by giving everyone the right to stop soldiers from accessing their private property during peacetime.

IV

Amendment

Article IV
Search and Seizure

Fourth Amendment

History of the Third Amendment: In Colonial America, laws were written in order to help the English earn money on customs. The justices of the peace would do this by writing general warrants, which allowed general search and seizure to happen. Massachusetts wrote a law in 1756 that banned these warrants, because tax collectors were abusing their powers by searching the colonists’ homes for illegal goods. These general warrants allowed any messenger or officer to search a suspected place without any evidence. It also allowed them to seize people without even saying what they did wrong or showing evidence of their wrongdoings. Virginia also banned the use of general warrants later due to other fears. These actions later led to the addition of the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

The Fourth Amendment Today: Today, the Fourth Amendment means that in order for a police officer to search and arrest someone, he or she will need to get permission or a warrant to do so from a judge. In order to get a warrant, the police officer must have evidence or probable cause that supports it. The police officer, or whoever has the evidence, must swear that it is true to his or her knowledge.

The Fourth Amendment applies to the government, but not any searches done by organizations or people who are not doing it for the government.

Some searches can be done without a warrant without breaking the law, like when there is a good reason to think that a crime is happening.

V

Amendment

Article V
Rights of Persons

Fifth Amendment

History of the Fifth Amendment: Once the United States won their independence from the British Parliament and monarchy that had acted like tyrants, the Framers of the United States Constitution did not trust large, centralized governments. Because of this, the Framers wrote the Bill of Rights, which were the first 10 amendments, to help protect individual freedoms from being hurt by the governmental. They included the Fifth Amendment, which gave five specific freedoms to American citizens.

Understanding the Fifth Amendment Line by Line: If you are confused by what each line means, here are some explanations to make the Fifth Amendment easier to understand:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury”: No one can be put on trial for a serious crime, unless a grand jury decide first that there is enough proof or evidence so that the trial is needed. If there is enough evidence, an indictment is then issued, which means that the person who is charged with the crime will can put on trial for the crime.

“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”: People in the military can go to trial without a grand jury first deciding that it is necessary. This is the case if the military person commits a crime during a national emergency or a war.

“Nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb”: If someone is put on trial for a certain crime and the trial ends, the person cannot be tried once more for the same crime. If a person is convicted of a crime and then serves his or her time in jail, or if the person is acquitted, he or she cannot be put on trial a second time.

“Nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”: The government does not have the power to make someone testify against himself. That is why a trial uses evidence and witnesses instead of the testimony of the accused person.

“Nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”: The government cannot take away a person’s life, property, or freedom without following certain steps that give the person a fair chance. This is what is known as due process. Due Process helps protect a person’s rights.

“Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”: The government cannot take away a person’s property for public use without somehow paying them back for it.

The Fifth Amendment was introduced into the Constitution by James Madison.

The ideas in the Fifth Amendment can be traced back to the Magna Carta, which was issued in 1215

A defendant cannot be punished for using his right to silence during a criminal trial, but there are some consequences to using it in a civil trial.

VI

Amendment

Article VI
Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions

Understanding the Sixth Amendment Line by Line

If you are confused by what each line means, here are some good explanations to make the Sixth Amendment easier to understand:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial”: The person who is accused of a crime has the right to get a quick trial. This line does not mean that the person’s trial will be over in one week. Rather, this line means that the country or state cannot make the person sit in jail for a very long time, for example 5 years, while they for their trial. This would be very unfair to anyone who is not guilty. The person who is accused also has the right to receive a public trial. The state cannot lock the person away and ask questions about the crime. This process must be seen by the public so that it more fair to the accused person.

“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”: The trial has to have an impartial jury. This means that the jurors cannot be prejudiced or biased against the accused individual or the specific crime that the individual has been accused of, or it would be unfair to the accused. The trial also must be held in an area where the crime took place, or else it may also be unfair to the accused.

“And to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him”: The accused person has the right to find out what he or she is being charged with exactly and why he or she is being held in jail. The accused person also has the right to learn who is claiming that he or she committed the crime, along with the right to ask questions.

“To have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense”: The accused person has the right to make anyone attend their trial if they believe that person can help with the case. The court can also force a person to come to a court by using a summons, which means the person will not have choice, and will have to go to the trial. The accused person also has the right to hire an attorney. If he or she cannot afford an attorney, the court can provide one

The Sixth Amendment was put into the Bill of Rights by James Madison.

The rights in the Sixth Amendment apply to all the states.

While an accused person can represent himself in a trial, the court can stop this if the accused is not mentally stable.

VII

Amendment

Article VII
Civil Trials

Understanding the Seventh Amendment Line by Line

If you are confused by what each line means, here are some good explanations to make the Seventh Amendment easier to understand:

“In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved”: When the Seventh Amendment was written in the 1700s, $20 was considered a lot of money. Today, any disputes that involve amounts less than $75000 will not be handled in a federal court.

“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”: It is against United States law to setting up your own court system. If a person goes to court, he will always go to a court recognized by the government. These courts are often city, country, state, or national courts.

Before 1688, English judges were servants under the King of England. These judges were often biased towards the King, and because of this, their rulings were not always fair. During the Act of Settlement 1701, English judges won their independence from the king, but judges in the American colonies were still biased towards the king. King George III got rid of trials by juries in the Colonies, which made colonists very upset and fueled the fire that led to the American Revolution. When the Framers wrote the Bill of Rights, they understood how important it was to have a fair court system, so they made sure that the right to have a trial by jury was a fundamental law of the country.

The $20 dollar clause of the Seventh Amendment is one of the very few portions of the Bill of Rights that were not incorporated by the Supreme Court.

The Seventh Amendment was put into the Bill of Rights by James Madison

VIII

Amendment

Article VIII
Further Guarantees in Criminal Cases

Understanding the Eighth Amendment Line by Line

If you are confused by what each line of the Eighth Amendment means, here are some good explanations to make the Eighth Amendment easier to understand:

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed”: The courts are not allowed to assign an accused person a large and excessive amount of money for bail. This is because if they could, a judge would have the chance to judge someone early on and set a bail amount based on that.

Bail is the property or money given to a court as a promise that the accused person will return for his trial. If the accused person does not show up, he or she will lose their bail money or property. The amount of bail assigned depends on the type of crime committed and the chance that the accused person will return for his trial. If the crime is very serious, the bail will be higher.

“Nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”: According to the Eighth Amendment, punishments cannot be cruel or unusual. However, it is not exactly clear what cruel and unusual really means. When the Eighth Amendment was written, the Framers were considering situations where severe punishments would be used, such as being strangled, branded, or burned, or being locked in stocks. The Eighth Amendment works to prevent these types of punishments.

History of the Eighth Amendment: The Eighth Amendment is almost exactly the same as a part of the 1689 English Bill of Rights, which also said that excessive bails or cruel and unusual punishment were unnecessary. This provision was written in because of a case where a man named Titus Oates. His punishment resulted in being in a pillory for two days, and being whipped while tied onto a moving cart. Later on, this case was thought of one that had very cruel and excessive punishments. Because of this, the Constitution now forbids these punishments since they are unnecessary, not approved of by the people, and are very illogical.

IX

Amendment

Article IX
Unenumerated Rights

History of the Ninth Amendment

When the United States Constitution was first sent out to the states to be voted on, people known as the Anti-Federalists argued that there should also be a Bill of Rights. However, another group known as the Federalists did not think it was necessary. They worried that putting in the Bill of Rights gave power to the government by specifically discussing what the government could not do.

Because of these debates, the Virginia Ratifying Convention tried to compromise by proposing a constitutional amendment that said that any amendments limiting Congress’ power should not be reason to extend their power. This proposal led to the creation of the Ninth Amendment.

When James Madison introduced the Ninth Amendment to the House of Representatives, he said that this draft was to prevent increasing the power of the government and is put in as a cautionary measure. He felt that the first Eight Amendments talked about how the federal government could exercise its powers, and the Ninth Amendment looked referred to many rights that still could not be taken away by the government.

Modern Use of the Ninth Amendment: Today, the Ninth Amendment is used mainly to stop the government from expanding their power rather than just limiting their power. Sometimes, courts try to use the Ninth Amendment as a way to provide and enforce rights that are not actually talked about in the Constitution.

There is no evidence about which rights Madison or the other Founding Fathers were talking about when they said there were others that are protected.

Unlike many of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights, the Ninth Amendment does not actually give any rights, but rather just makes a statement about them.

The first significant Supreme Court case where the justices considered the Ninth Amendment was Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 by discussing the right to privacy

The Ninth Amendment a part of the Bill of Rights, which were introduced by James Madison.

X

Amendment

Article X
Reserved Powers

History of the Tenth Amendment

The Tenth Amendment is very similar to an earlier part of the Articles of Confederation. These articles said that every state would keep their freedom, independence, jurisdiction, rights, and sovereignty.

Once the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the states, some people wanted to add amendments that would only give the federal governments powers that were mentioned in the Constitution. However, because the world “expressly” did not show up in the Tenth Amendment, the Federal government still had some implied powers.

When James Madison introduced the Tenth Amendment, he explained that many of the states were very eager to ratify the Tenth amendment, even though many people thought it was not necessary. The States ultimately decided to vote for the Tenth Amendment which made it clearer that there were still powers that were not mentioned that the Federal government had.

Modern Use of the Tenth Amendment: Today, the Tenth Amendment is often thought of as something very obvious or self-evident. In a 1931 Supreme Court case, the justices said that the Tenth Amendment did not really add anything new to the United States Constitution. Sometimes, local or state governments try to say that they do not have to follow some federal laws because of the Tenth Amendment.
In the Supreme Court, there have been very few cases that use the Tenth Amendment to call a law unconstitutional. The only times the Court has done this is in situations where the Federal government forces a state to follow their laws. However, in 1996, a Justice said that Congress can try to make a state follow a law by setting certain laws that may involve commerce or spending power, but Congress cannot force a state to follow federal laws.

The Tenth Amendment was supposed to help limit Congress’s powers, by preventing any un-enumerated rights, but instead it resulted in more uncertainty about uncertainty about their rights.

The Tenth Amendment is a good example of a part of the Constitution that talks about federalism, which is a type of government that is split up into different governing sections.

The Tenth Amendment was introduced to the U.S. Constitution by James Madison.


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