The Constitution of the United States is one of the most important documents in history. Although it outlines many rules about how our government is supposed to work, the original version of the document left out some key things: namely the rights of individual citizens as opposed to the rights of the Federal and State governments.
Today, let’s break down the Bill of Rights so you as an American can fully understand your Constitution and what it secures for your freedoms:
What Does the Bill of Rights Say?
The Bill of Rights is a collection of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. It outlines the major freedoms and rights of American citizens and helps to further separate the powers of the Federal and State governments.
More specifically, the Bill of Rights explains how the rights of individual Americans relate to the government and its powers. In addition to that, the Bill of Rights is crucial because it sets rules for due process of law: something that the Founding Fathers were very concerned about given the political corruption of their time period.
Most importantly of all, the Bill of Rights specifies that any rights not listed in the Constitution or in Amendments are rights of the people by default, rather than rights of the government.
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Why is the Bill of Rights Needed?
The Bill of Rights was and is needed to secure the rights of the individual. While the Constitution is a phenomenal document that does a great job of outlining a successful and evolving government, (which is one of the reasons why the US has thrived to this day), the Constitution alone does not state or protect the rights that we all appreciate.
This is where the Bill of Rights steps in: It’s necessary to ensure that individual Americans’ freedoms cannot be infringed by the Federal Government.
What's Included in the Bill of Rights?
The Bill of Rights is comprised of the first 10 Amendments, outlining the following rights and privileges for American citizens:
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
The freedom of speech, the press, the right to assemble, the right to protest, and the right against prosecution for your religious beliefs
THE SECOND AMENDMENT
The right to keep and bear arms
THE THIRD AMENDMENT
The right against the government forcing you to provide your home to soldiers
THE FOURTH AMENDMENT
The right against unreasonable search and seizure of you or your property
THE FIFTH AMENDMENT
The right to a fair trial and the right against imprisonment or self-incrimination without due process
THE SIXTH AMENDMENT
More rights and protections for those accused of crimes, including the right to trial by an impartial jury and the right to a speedy and public trial
THE SEVENTH AMENDMENT
The right to a jury trial in all Federal civil cases
THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT
Protections against excessive bail/fines and protections against cruel and unusual punishment
THE NINTH AMENDMENT
Outlines the distinction that any rights or powers not listed in the Constitution belong to the people by default
THE TENTH AMENDMENT
Specifies even further that the Federal Government only has power delegated in the Constitution
As you can see, the Bill of Rights is just as crucial to the United States as the Constitution itself.
It formed the framework for the Amendment process and ensured that Americans would be able to appreciate individual rights for generations to come.
Thank you for reading, God Bless America.
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