Bill of Rights and Amendments Essay

Bill of Rights and Amendments Table Donnell Lawrence, William Morelli HIS/301 August 18, 2010 Reynaldo Cuellar Bill of Rights and Amendments Table The grand ole United States Constitution— a relic document that still hasn’t lost its luster today. The U. S. Constitution— the most significant piece of prose that forever changed our lady America’s armor; that has then and now protects us, as a people, from all injustices that creep our American doorsteps every day. Oh America: the beautiful, thou shed its grace on thee, from sea to shining sea! How did this all come about? Where did it come from?

Furthermore, how did all of its contents come to be a part of America’s Bible— where did it began, how did it end, and is its effectiveness still relevant in the year 2010? The team will briefly describe the contents of the Bill of Rights and amendments juxtaposed it in order to re-visit the relevance of its law to society today. The first ten amendments were ratified on December 15th, 1791, which are also known as the Bill of Rights, The next seventeen Amendments were drafted and ratified at later dates. The Bill of Right was to be drafted as an agreement between the federalist and the anti-federalist so the U. S.

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Constitution would become ratified and put into effect. The Constitution was powerful throughout the 13 colonies, but the Anti-Federalist was in fear that the National Government would have too much power. The Constitution was drafted in a way that it provided way for amending it to suit the purpose of the people. Although the United States Constitution was created centuries ago, the reason for its creation still resonates through the hearts and minds of all American citizens. Much debate over the relevance of such laws in these times takes center stage at the forefront of most individual’s minds that reside in this country.

Since, the U. S. is seemingly not opposed to voicing grievances, constantly wanting and needing injustices to be corrected and wrong’s to be righted, is there any wonder if it has always been the same. Prior to the adoption of the Constitution, aristocratic, and philosophies was the only authority in place, never really ever taking their subjects (the people) opinions, livelihoods, or consequences into account— the rulers continued to rule, without caring not even a little about what they were doing, just as long they were pleased.

Stupidly, enough as it sounds on paper, it was true, dictators didn’t realize that they were ruining their very guinea pigs away; after all if there was no one to rule, then their reigns would’ve of ended no matter what. It wasn’t until the people began minor uproars about their qualms and reservations, and obtained the backing of prominent businessmen, politicians, clergymen, attorney’s, and other men with strong democratic passions and powers stood up to make a change.

When the idea of the Constitution being drafted and adopted was first introduced, its many dissenters became apprehensive upon the completion of the document because they felt that the contents were simultaneously too vague and not readily understandable to anyone without a moderate education, they were also worried that their allies would find it all a little too confusing, or even penetrable by finding loopholes that would open the door to just and fair insurgency by their enemies.

Some even made claims that tyrannical behavior would spring from at it as well from both the government and the people; so the document as is was perceived as primitive— needing tweaking to satiate the needs of all that was bound by its governance, irrespective of their professional or personal place in society. As a consequence of the controversy that plagued the much-anticipated U. S. Constitution, a “Bill of Rights” that clearly outlined the rights of citizens on an individual basis ensued.

What Congress came up with was the first 10 amendments of the Constitution were created to service that need. Amendment 1 The first Amendment speaks for itself; back then it gave the people the right to believe and practice whatever religion of their faith, which at that time was Judeo-Christianity, although the first implication of the first amendment was somewhat irrelevant because of the wide-spread collective faith, it shows that the document was intended to stand the test to time.

Today, there are a plethora of religious and spiritual beliefs and practices such as, Islamic faith, Santeria religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Jehovah’s witnesses, to name a few that are currently being practiced in the United States; without the first amendment, freedom to practice one’s desired or inherited religion would not be possible. The second part of the first amendment: Freedom of Speech and Press is probably one of the most controversial and needed parts of the amendment.

It gives individual the legal fortitude to verbally and in print express their feelings (even about the government which was once considered communist) about what they chose without sustaining significant consequences such as, it being considered libelous and slanderous that’s maliciously derived or considered anti-government. Prior to the amendment, citizens were forced to live under British rule. Today, no one takes the usefulness of the first amendment for granted; the airing of television programs, movies, news papers, and magazines embrace the freedom and say what they chose, being careful as to what they say and about whom, however.

There are still fine lines concerning the abuse of the first amendment powers such as, defamation of character. The later part of the amendment: the right to peaceful assembly and protest (even against the government) was used heavenly back then, and the adoption of these bills proves that. The first amendment has and continues to be a wonderful addition to American life; although it has been altered a bit by the government trying to level the playing field and restore governmental autonomy.

Many argue the Patriot Act that was initially enacted, so the government could monitor perceived and clarified terrorists activities, especially after the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack on America. Amendment 2 The 2nd Amendment give the exclusive right of the people to own fire arms, which during the time it was drafted, most of the population already carried fire arms— it was cultural thing then, so not having a “piece” was unusual. During the time there was a development of a new Government and the people needed to protect themselves as well as the government.

This is where our government developed for the countries protection state regulated militia (National Guard, reservists) to look over the country state wise in case of an up rise against the government and country. In order to control the misuse of fire arms citizens have to file to hold a firearms license. This protects the government as well as the people from illegal selling of arms and to know who is carrying the firearms. Amendment 3 The 3rd Amendment was written due to British as well as American soldiers imposing upon citizens during the Revolutionary war.

When the soldiers found refuge in the homes in imposed on the privacy and natural rights of the people. Today with war being abroad we the people of the United States are not affected by the soldiers, but abroad is a different story. Amendment 4 The fourth amendment exclusively protects citizen’s domiciles (residents) from being subjected to unlawful searches of their property or person, without just— probable cause, warrants, or subpoenas by the courts. This amendment is especially significance both today and the time of his creation.

Policing powers are always in jeopardy of abuse, primarily because of the nature of the job. Amendment 5?? The Fifth Amendment is one of the most powerful and widely used amendments today. Although its usefulness didn’t completely manifest itself until the post-civil rights era, it still serves a much-needed purpose nevertheless. The 5th amendment, similar to the 1st amendment touches the psyches of American citizens that are bound by its governance and leniency.

Having made several “appearances” in cinematography—the 5th amendment is most famous for its ability to exonerate someone from incriminating himself or herself, by being witnesses against themselves. The 5th amendment also benefits enlisted military personnel during wartime or public danger is presence, where no criminal charges may be brought against the soldier, sailor, or airmen for using their training to defend their country or fellow man. The 5th amendment is also creative in granting an individual immunity from being charged with the same offense if the courts acquitted the defendant of the charges.

For example, if Jane Doe was accused of murdering her husband in cold blood (hence, the name: Truman Capote’s infamous novel title), was tried before a jury of her peers that found that she acting in self-defense, so she was acquitted of all criminal charges. Later, empirical evidence proved that she didn’t react in self-defense, so she can’t be brought up on murder charges because she was already tried for that crime, so she can’t be “twice put in jeopardy”, or commonly known as “Double Jeopardy”. This amendment is highly protectionist in nature; although all the amendments are esigned to protect all citizens against injustices, this one specifically helps those that are considered to possibly be in extenuating circumstances, where they may or maybe not ought to be held accountable for their actions due to the severity questioned, or the humanistic need to defend and protect oneself. Amendment 6 The Sixth Amendment is especially significant to American history. This amendment gives all citizens the right to a fair and speedy trial upon criminal allegations. This process is known as due process, further ensuring that all persons receive proper legal representation no matter their financial status.

In cases involving individuals that can’t afford legal counsel, the courts will provide one (legal aid) for them. Furthermore, all things being equal “everyone is innocent until proven guilty”, so the 6th amendment gives the accused the legal right to defend himself regardless of counsel and try to prove their innocence. This is a slippery slope, however, because when individuals choose to represent themselves they risk being charged with the maximum available penalty for that crime. Amendment 7 Simply put: the 7th Amendment of the Bill of Rights force cases involving civil claims (in excess of $20. 0) to be decided by a jury of their peers; where punitive awards are usually intricate. The 7th amendment is not that clear cut, however. Since, it grants trial by jury when dealing with [federal] civil disputes it involves discrimination in the workplace suits, conflicts that arise from contracted business relationships, and even public safety issues, such as car crashes. In order for the (p) plaintiff to win the case against the (D) the (P) has to provide at least 50% of evidence to prove case. This process is called “preponderance of evidence”; in addition to initial claim made.

Whether or not the over 50% “preponderance of evidence” required has to be met during on the discovery process (the “first look” at all claims, testimony and evidence available prior to going before a jury) is not addressed in this paper. Amendment 8 Succinctly put, the 8th amendment requires that excessive bonds, relative to both crime convicted and financial status, not be unreasonably imposed. The 8th amendment further requires that what be classified as “cruel and unusual” punishment not be inflicted regardless of conviction. This amendment is very controversial and challenged by many attorneys, judges, justices, and others exposed to it.

There are strong opinions amongst citizens concerning— what is considered “cruel and unusual punishment”. For example, those that disagree with capital punishment would classify it as such. An “eye for an eye” resonates within historical conservative states such as Texas. Amendment 9 The 9th amendment is special in further elaborates and enforces the intolerance of these laws set forth being used to show prejudice against anyone. Specifically governmental powers being used to omit “reasonable judgment”; the over use of opinion over fact is not conducive to the Constitution intrinsic beliefs and decree.

In order for a Judge or Justice (justices are more germane to Constitutional law because they only consider Constitutional law implications in the Supreme Court. ) to render any decision in court a Judge must incorporate both a reasonable opinion and fact to render a “reasonable judgment. Amendment 10 The 10th Amendment austerely requires that Constitution law always be considered, yet does not circumvent statues in place by individual states when the statute presented in not addressed in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights is in essence the precursor to the rest of the Constitution.

The remaining amendments— 27 in total and articles are direct extensions of it— where the founders provided a framework to work though and for such a powerful and permanent body of law. The Constitution “blueprint” was designed to live throughout time, so lawmakers and citizens voted upon positions concerning laws imposed or needing to be imposed. Therefore, the remaining amendments require its namesake— amending; filled with subsections, as times changes so do the law. Amendment 11 The 11th Amendment to the constitution focused on the sovereign immunity of the states from being sued by private parties from other states and foreign countries.

It limited the judicial power of the Supreme Court. In 1794 the congress ratified the 11th amendment to the constitution with three- fourths of the states voting for. Issues about state rights were reinforced by the amendment alleviating some of the issues anti-federalists. The visibility of the amendment in society reveals that the enforcement is adhered to by the courts today. Amendment 12 Due to the mess created by the election in1800 the congress needed to permanently fix the situation. The 12th Amendment to the constitution was passed in 1803 and ratified in 1804.

Separating votes for the president and vice president in order to eliminate confusion over who won. Each ballot would list who was running for which office and a place to mark for voting. Society has benefitted from the amendment and currently is used for the model to electing all government positions requiring a vote. Amendment 13 In 1865 Congress passed and ratified the amendment banning slavery in the United States and all of its territories. The power to enforce the amendment was given provided appropriate legislation.

At the time the civil war was ending and the south was affected by the law the most due to the reliance on slavery in their economy. If the law wasn’t passed then one of the team members could be the property of someone and treated no different than an animal. Amendment 14 Focusing on equal protection for all citizens of the United States under law Congress passed the amendment in 1866 and ratified in1868. The amendment had four crucial parts defining who is an American citizen, privileges of citizenship, due process of law and equal protection.

The amendment was important to the newly freed slaves at the time. Many groups use the broad citizen rights guaranteed by the amendment and bill of rights in fighting discrimination today. Amendment 15 In order for the newly freed slaves feel like citizens the congress passed and ratified the 15th Amendment in 1869 and 1870 respectively. The focus was on the right to vote for all citizens regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Amendment 16 The focus was to allow congress to lay and collect income taxes without discussing with the states or developing a census.

Article 1 Section 9 was altered due to the passing and ratification in 1909 and 1913. It provided for the current federal income tax we deal with today. The issues with taxes have continued from the point of ratification to the present day. The rich get more breaks because they have the power to affect the policies. Amendment 17 The constitution originally had senators elected by state legislatures but the possibility of political corruption caused congress to pass the 17th amendment. The amendment turned the election of the Senators to the people for popular vote.

In 1912 the amendment was passed and in 1913 it was ratified. It gave the people the right to determine who would represent them in the United States Congress. It helped the team to realize that the government is for the people by the people. Amendment 18 Progressive leaders of the time sought to help America become a role model for the world. The idea of alcohol was the root to all the evils in society. The 18th amendment banning the manufacturing, transporting, and sale of alcohol was passed in 1917 and ratified in 1919. Existing alcohol could be consumed if already in your home and bars.

The effect on society at the time led to a rise in criminal activity and organized crime. It had the reverse affect from the intended purpose. The effect on society today isn’t existent. Amendment 19 Although all citizens should have the right to vote according to the 15th amendment, women were somehow not included. The focus of the 19th amendment was to fix the issue. It provided for the right to vote regardless of sex and protection from states trying to deny them. It passed in 1919 and was ratified in 1920. It helped to further the women’s movement.

The rights for women are continually improving through hardship and perseverance. Amendment 20 This amendment contained a time limit clause that was ratified in1933 but passed in 1932. It focused on the succession of the president and vice president. It also set the date for the presidential inauguration following the elections. It also set the date for congress to meet and that they meet at least once every year. The effect on society was minimal with date of inauguration moving from March to January. The impact to society today has not been noticed due to change occurring before majority of those affected being born.

Amendment 21 An explanation of the 21st amendment, particularly section 1, is not very difficult, primarily because it repealed the 18th amendment of the Constitution; which initiated prohibition in the United States. Section 2, however, gives individual states the autonomy to establish their own liquor laws congruent to that states polices concerning minor laws and nightly or weekly ordnances such as, “Sunday Law” that several states have adopted that forbade the sale of alcohol pass a certain time at convenience stores and bars.

The 3rd section of the 21st Amendment is more of a cautionary section that is prevalent in most modifications of pre-established or pre-written amendments that clarify procedures for the adjustment. The amendment was passed and ratified in1933. Amendment 22 The sections of the 22nd Amendment specifically describe the limitations of elected Presidential terms and processes. Article 1, speaks the actual time allotted to serve as President of the United States of America.

The 2nd section is merely a cautionary section that is prevalent in most modifications of pre-established or pre-written amendments that clarify procedures for the adjustment. In 1947 congress passed the amendment but didn’t ratify until 1951 a four year gap. Amendment 23 The sections of the 23rdAmendment specifically outlined the criteria for casting presidential votes in Washington, D. C. (District of Columbia). Its purpose is to grant D. C. citizens the right to vote during national elections for both the President and the Vice President.

Individuals that reside in that district get to participate in electoral voting of the above positions, being that’s it’s the state capitol, that’s the hub of the U. S. ’s political force. Amendment 24 The sections of the 24th Amendment specifically addresses “poll taxing” which previously a requirement in order to vote during federal elections. Section 1, It requires that votes casts during that election cannot be seized and omitted due to the non-payment of voting poll taxes; this amendment exclusively bars that type of infraction being imposed.

Taxing property were protocol during the colonial times, so its relevance today concerning real property is considered unreasonably imposed; being a direct violation or contradiction of the 8th Amendment such as “a unreasonable penalty”, and the a direct violation of the equal protection clause. Whereas, section 2, gives the U. S. Senate and the House of Representatives; collectively: Congress, the power to further enforce the amendment/ law by drafting new legislation to refute its legitimacy if necessary. It was passed in 1962 and ratified in 1964. Amendment 25

The amendment details the presidential succession in case of death to the president or vice president. The affect on society was to maintain order in the case of internal or external threats. The line of succession has not been used very often in the history of the United States. The amendment passed in 1960 and was ratified in 1961. Amendment 26 The focus of the amendment was to reduce the minimum age for voters from 21 to 18. this was due to the Vietnam War. The right to fight and die for the country at 18 but not to vote on representation in the government was seen as unequal. The amendment was passed and ratified in 1971.

The effect was more voters in the upcoming elections. The effect on society was seen in the election of President Obama by the younger generation of voters. Amendment 27 The ability of congress to give them a pay raise was limited to the time occurring after an election. The affect on society is to self govern the people in power by not allowing them to continuously reward themselves with a pay increase. It was passed in 1789 but not ratified until 1992. It took over 200 years to ratify. The effect of the passing was necessary for the increase due to the change in the economic climate.

The congress should increase their pay if the job of running the country is done properly and benefits the people. The first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights serves a significant position that functions as a pre-protectionist decree that facilitates and compliments the remaining amendments in the U. S. Constitution. The Bills Of Rights are important individual rights protected by the constitution designed by the framers. The other amendments were issues and concerns deriving from the climate and culture of the society in which it occurred.

The amendments make the constitution a living document that can evolve with the people that it’s intended to protect and serve. This is what makes the United States Constitution a remarkable document. References Patterson, T. E. (2008). The American Democracy (8th ed. ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies. Shmoop University. (2010). Constitution. Retrieved from http://www. shmoop. com/constitution/12th-amendment. html University of Minnesota. (2009, Oct. 5). All Amendments to the United States Constitution. Retrieved from http://www1. umn. edu/humanrts/education/all_amendments_usconst. htm


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