Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments of the Constitution, the lodestar of the KTB Prep American Government and Civics series designed to acquaint users with the origins, concepts, organizations, and policies of the United States government and political system. The goal is greater familiarization with the rights and obligations of citizenship at the local, state, national, and global levels and the history of our nation as a democracy.
What is the Constitution?
The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States. Empowered with the sovereign authority of the people by the framers and the consent of the legislatures of the states, it is the source of all government powers, and also provides important limitations on the government that protect the fundamental rights of United States citizens.
It’s organized into three parts. The first part, the Preamble, describes the purpose of the document and the Federal Government. The second part, the seven Articles, establishes how the Government is structured and how the Constitution can be changed. The third part, the 27 Amendments, lists changes to the Constitution; the first 10 are called the Bill of Rights.
Bill of Rights
Name of the first ten amendments found in the Constitution serving to protect the rights of liberty and property. The Bill of Rights guarantees certain personal freedoms, reserves some powers to the states and the public, and limits the government’s power in judicial and other proceedings. While the amendments originally only applied to the federal government, many of their provisions are now applied to the states due to the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment and the doctrine of Incorporation with the exception of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
The Bill of Rights was first introduced to the first United States Congress by James Madison as a group of legislative articles. These articles were then adopted on August 21, 1789 by the House of Representatives and were formally proposed on September 25, 1789 by a joint resolution of Congress, and finally came into effect on December 15, 1791 as Constitutional Amendments, after being ratified by three-fourths of the States. Although twelve of the amendments were passed by Congress, only ten of the amendments were passed originally by the states. Out of the remaining two that were not passed by the states, one amendment was later adopted as the 27th Amendment while the other technically is still pending before the states.
The Bill of Rights originally included legal protection only for land-owning white men, and did not provide the same protection for women and blacks. It took more Constitutional Amendments and many Supreme Court cases to finally give the same rights to all United States citizens.
Prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Freedom of The Press Issues
- Content regulation
- Taxation of the press
Freedom of Speech Issues
- Speech that is critical of the government
- Political speech (campaign speech, anonymous speech, flag desecration, and free speech zones)
- Commercial speech
- Speech in school
- Private action
- Memoirs of convicted criminals
- Involuntary administration of medicine
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 grievanceskids.laws.com
Protects the individual right to keep and bear arms. Early state constitutions allowed for
- the people to set up a militia
- the discouragement of the formation of undemocratic governments
- participating in actions of law enforcement
- halting or preventing invasion
- the right to defend oneself
- prevention of insurrection
Places restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in private homes without the owner’s consent, forbidding the practice in peacetime
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 lawkids.laws.com
Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Sets requirements for issuing warrants:
- must be issued by a judge or magistrate
- justified by probable cause
- supported by oath or affirmation
- must particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] 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 seizedkids.laws.com
Protects against double jeopardy and self-incrimination. Guarantees the rights to due process, grand jury screening of criminal indictments, and compensation for the seizure of private property under eminent domain.
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.kids.laws.com
The Sixth Amendment establishes a number of rights of the defendant in a criminal trial:
- speedy and public
- an impartial jury
- informed of criminal charges
- confront witnesses
- compel witnesses to appear in court
- assistance of counsel
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.kids.laws.com
Guarantees jury trials in federal civil cases that deal with claims of more than twenty dollars. It also prohibits judges from overruling findings of fact by juries in federal civil trials.
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.kids.laws.com
Prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.kids.laws.com
Additional fundamental rights that exist outside the Constitution, and the rights enumerated in the Constitution are not an explicit and exhaustive list of individual rights.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the peoplekids.laws.com
Reinforces the principles of separation of powers and federalism by providing that powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the states, are reserved to the states or the people.
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.kids.laws.com