Why the Bill of Rights Matters to You
"YOU" - the individual - is exactly the motivation and the reason our Founding Fathers included the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.
In response to requests from states for greater Constitutional protections of individual natural rights and prohibition of governmental power, James Madison drafted the Bill of Rights, with final ratification in December 1791.
The Bill of Rights roots lie in previous Anglo-American documents, including the Magna Carta, wherein subjects were protected from royal abuses through prosecutions upheld by the "law of the land." The Petition of Rights, also a precursor for the establishment of our current Bill of Rights, was adopted in 1628 by the British parliament and condemned unlawful imprisonments and provided taxation only with common consent of parliament.
Often, we recognize the importance of freedoms only when removed. So, consider the possibilities of your life WITHOUT the Bill of Rights:
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.
NO RIGHT = No letters to the editor or "open letters" to America, no town halls, no opinions expressed on social media; no Sunday worship of your choice, perhaps forced acknowledgment and worship of a state-determined religion; no allowance for requesting reprisal from the government without fear of punishment.
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.
NO RIGHT = No ability to protect and defend your family or yourself from criminal, individual attacks or government-led assaults. No ability to protect your home/land and belongings.
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.
NO RIGHT = No ability to regulate who comes into your home - which strips your ability to protect and defend your family.
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.
NO RIGHT = Government can seize your home, your properties, even your family - at any time and for any reason.
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.
NO RIGHT = NOT innocent until proven guilty. The government can accuse and convict you without a fair trial. Punishment is considered fair play without reason. All your property can be taken away whenever the government chooses, without compensation.
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 defense.
NO RIGHT = No speedy trial, perhaps no trial at all. No witnesses required to prove guilt, no right to an attorney. You are at the mercy of whoever is in charge.
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 reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
NO RIGHT = No guarantee of a jury trial. Instead, your fate is decided by government officials.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
NO RIGHT = Any cruel and unusual punishment could be afflicted upon you or a family member. Government could inflict unfair incarceration by imposing excessive fines.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
NO RIGHT = Any natural right you may feel is yours can be violated at any time without redress.
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.
NO RIGHT = No power given to the states or local governments. ALL power is solely provided to a central government without representation of the people. You have NO voice.
Friends - it's up to each of us to understand these rights, to preserve each one and to fight as if our lives depend upon them - because quite frankly, they do.
Shine On. -Kimberly
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