Bill Of Rights
Constitutional Amendments 1 - 10
In the United States, the Bill of Rights is the name by which the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known. They were introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of constitutional amendments, and came into effect on December 15, 1791, when they had been ratified by three-fourths of the States. The Bill of Rights limits the powers of the Federal government of the United States, protecting the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory.
The Bill of Rights protects the freedoms of speech, press, and religion; the right to keep and bear arms; the freedom of assembly; the freedom to petition; and prohibits unreasonable search and seizure; cruel and unusual punishment; and compelled self-incrimination. The Bill of Rights also prohibits Congress from making any law respecting establishment of religion and prohibits the Federal Government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. In Federal, criminal cases, it requires indictment by grand jury for any capital or "infamous crime," guarantees a speedy public trial with an impartial jury composed of members of the state or judicial district in which the crime occurred, and prohibits double jeopardy. In addition, the Bill of Rights states that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and reserves all powers not granted to the federal government to the citizenry or States. Most of these restrictions were later applied to the states by a series of decisions applying the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, after the American Civil War.
Madison proposed the Bill of Rights while ideological conflict between Federalists and anti-Federalists, dating from the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, threatened the overall ratification of the new national Constitution. It largely responded to the Constitution's influential opponents, including prominent Founding Fathers, who argued that the Constitution should not be ratified because it failed to protect the basic principles of human liberty. The Bill was influenced by George Mason's 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, the 1689 English Bill of Rights, works of the Age of Enlightenment pertaining to natural rights, and earlier English political documents such as Magna Carta (1215).
Two additional articles were proposed to the States; only the final ten articles were ratified quickly and correspond to the First through Tenth Amendments to the Constitution. The first Article, dealing with the number and apportionment of U.S. Representatives, never became part of the Constitution. The second Article, limiting the ability of Congress to increase the salaries of its members, was ratified two centuries later as the 27th Amendment. Though they are incorporated into the document known as the "Bill of Rights", neither article establishes a right as that term is used today. For that reason, and also because the term had been applied to the first ten amendments long before the 27th Amendment was ratified, the term "Bill of Rights" in modern U.S. usage means only the ten amendments ratified in 1791.
The Bill of Rights plays a central role in American law and government, and remains a fundamental symbol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. One of the original fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Constitutional Amendments 1 - 10 The "Bill Of Rights"
- 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 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.
- 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 defence.
- 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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
- 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.