Inalienable Natural Rights

The "Bill of Rights" was established on December 15, 1791, to enumerate and legally protect the fundamental rights of Americans. The Bill of Rights established ten fundamental amendments to the U.S. Constitution to protect citizens of the United States. As time passes more amendments are grafted onto the Constitution, the first ten are basic and critical to living a free life. It is very important to know your rights in order to protect yourself from unjust actions.

First Amendment: Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition

This amendment protects an individual’s freedom of expression, with the exception of character defamation. The state has historically claimed authority to restrict the freedom of the press under the auspice of war.  Freedom of religion is protected in this amendment as well by banning any official or restricted church or sect. Finally, the first amendment protects your right to assemble and petition the government in a peaceful manner.

Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms

The second amendment protects a person’s right to bear arms. This can mean an individual has the right to own his own firearms and a group of individuals have the right to maintain a regulated militia.

Third Amendment: No Quartering of Soldiers in Homes

This amendment was written specifically for an incident that was frequently occurring at the time the document was being written. The third amendment demands that no soldier should be quartered in a house without the consent of the owner of the home. This was written during a time when quartering soldiers in colonist’s homes was a common occurrence as a result of the presence of British military in the colonies.

Fourth Amendment: Regulations of Search and Seizure

Everyone is probably familiar with this right, its constantly being used by characters demanding search warrants in popular media. This amendment requires that in order to arrest an individual or search a person, home or other private place officers of the state must have a warrant issued by a judge showing probable cause. This warrant must be issued by an unbiased judge. This amendment was created to protect an individual’s right to privacy and to prevent unwarranted searches and seizures of private property.

Fifth Amendment: Due Process

There are several aspects to this amendment, the right to remain silent, the double jeopardy clause, due process of law, and compensation for property required by the government. First, the Fifth Amendment gives an individual the right to refrain from self-incrimination, which means that a jury must establish guilt for the crime based on evidence, not on an extorted confession. However, a voluntary confession may be allowed as grounds for conviction. . In addition to protecting oneself from self-incrimination, this amendment calls for an individual to be afforded due process of law before their individual rights are revoked. This means that before depriving an individual of their rights, the government must follow traditional and proper methods for revoking them. The next aspect is the double jeopardy clause, which prohibits an individual convicted or acquitted of any particular crime from being tried for the same crime again. Finally, this amendment requires that anyone whose property has been taken by the government in the interest of the public to be financially compensated at a fair and appropriate value.

Sixth Amendment: Right to a Public Trial

All persons should have the right to a public trial that must occur shortly after the initiation of the charges.  The trial must be fair and the right to obtain assistance from counsel must be afforded to all dependents. In addition, any and all witnesses involved must be brought to trial before the defendant, jury and judge. Finally, all defendants are entitled to obtain their own witnesses to speak on their behalf.

Seventh Amendment: Trial by Jury

Anyone who has committed or is suspected of committing a crime must be afforded a trial by a jury of their peers. This issue initially arose because of the distrust colonial Americans had for judges, believing that a trial may not be entirely fair and just if solely judged by one individual. So their demands for a trial by jury were met. However, since things have changed since then there are exceptions to this amendment where some lesser offenses are resolved by other methods so as not to burden the federal judiciary.

Eighth Amendment: Cruel and Unusual Punishments

This amendment requires that all persons be entitled to a bail appropriate for their suspected crime and circumstances. Additionally no individual should be subject to punishment deemed cruel and/or unusual by the government. This has been a critical element in many states fighting the death penalty, as some see it as a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Ninth Amendment: Omitted Rights

The government is not allowed to reduce an individual’s rights because they are not specifically protected by the constitution. This requires that an individual must still be afforded all rights as defined by the constitution, but further protection must be found elsewhere if the circumstances deem necessary.

Tenth Amendment: State’s Rights

Any powers or rights not delegated to the federal government by the constitution are afforded to the states. Basically, anything not required by the constitution to be controlled by the federal government may be defined and governed by each individual state.

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