Freedom Matters–The Constitution–Part 8–The Bill of Rights–Amendments 1 – 10

The Bill of Rights are the legal codification of very specific rights that the framers intended to protect with special placement in the Constitution.  While the 7 Articles place impositions on the federal government, the first 10 Amendments give greater freedom to the people.  I will make some comments about some of these Amendments, and some Amendments I will let stand as they are written.

Amendment 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.

Congress can not establish a religion.  That only means that legislation can not be brought to the floor of the House or Senate that creates a federal religion.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  Just because a city has a Manger scene on city property, does not mean that it is an establishment of religion.  To establish an official religion, there must be actual legislation.  To my knowledge, no such legislation has ever existed in the US.  I could be wrong, and am willing to see evidence to the contrary.

The press has the right to report what it want’s, but not the right to libel or slander, both of which happen frequently, and the press gets away with it.  The slightest accusation of the press abusing their privilege, and they scream the 1st Amendment.  The press is more engaged in infotainment than in being the press.

The right to petition allows a people to make their disagreements known in an orderly fashion, and limits insurrections.  It also a means to keep politicians from going too far.

Amendment 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.

The right to bear arms does not have a limit on it.  So, automatic, semi automatic, double barrel, sawed off, whatever.  To limit the type, amount, or the ability to have arms is unconstitutional.  This is not for hunters, or simply gun enthusiasts.  This amendment is designed to hold a tyrannical government at bay.  A well armed people will defend themselves if and when the government rises up against them, say like invading a state that has left the Union.

Amendment 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.

Amendment 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.

Amendment 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 offense 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 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.
Amendment 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.
Amendment 8

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

Amendment 9
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This is a key amendment.  It is a reminder that the Constitution severely limits the powers of the federal government, and the great freedom it is designed to protect for the people.  It assumes that the people have rights that are not necessarily spelled out in the Constitution, but that does not presume that the federal government is granted the right to limit those unenumerated rights of the people.  Rather this amendment places another constraint on the federal government, and it reminds the federal government that only the powers delegated to each branch of the government are those powers that each branch may retain.  Any additional powers are forbidden.

Amendment 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.

Probably the most ignored amendment by politicians.  It puts a specific cap on federal power, and nearly unlimited political freedom on the people.  There is little wonder that Washington ignores this amendment.  It marginalizes political power.  There is so much of the federal code that has ignored this amendment.  Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will let any of the power they have both unconstitutionally grabbed, go back to the people.  Why should we continue to vote for them.