Bill of Rights

How does the Bill of rights protect our basic rights and liberties?

The bill of rights is the first ten amendments to the
Constitution. They are amendments, or additions, to the original
text. It is interesting to note that these rights we consider most
crucial to the proper functioning of our democracy were not even
originally included in the Constitution. As it happens there was
much debate over their inclusion. Alexander Hamilton, founder of the
Federalist party, argued that there was no need to include the Bill
of Rights. Hamilton felt that the design of government would
eliminate any intrusion on peoples rights, that they were in fact
already protected. Thomas Jefferson on the other hand felt that
these rights needed to be stated clearly and indelibley so that they
might never be taken away.



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.


Amendment II

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 III

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 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.


Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise

infamous crime, unless on av 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.


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


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


Amendment VIII

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


Amendment IX

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


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 bill of rights cannot protect citizens by itself. It is only a
document, a piece of paper. Only when the document is appliewd by
the powers of government does it have power.

The purpose of the bill of rights is to prevent the federal
government from taking away our rights as humans and as citizens.
When the government (state or national) does something that violates
our rights it is up to the Supreme Court using its power of judicial
review to strike down the act citing the bill of rights. Then, and
only then, can the bill of rights prtoect our rights as citizens.