Did you know that freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms were not in the original Constitution, drafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787? So where did they come from? Sherif Girgis, associate professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, has the answer.
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If you asked people to describe what is in the US Constitution, most would begin by citing freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and maybe the right to bear arms. But in fact, these are not part of the Constitution that came out of Philadelphia in September 1787. They are the first ten amendments to the Constitution. They are part of what is known as the Bill of Rights.
And why was this Bill of Rights necessary?
The answer is that many Americans thought the Constitution — a document dedicated to limiting federal power — didn’t limit that power enough. This was not a fringe opinion. People like Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Patrick Henry, and George Mason all shared this fear.
James Madison, one of the principal authors of the Constitution, disagreed. He argued that all the assurances the doubters wanted were already in the Constitution. They just needed to look a little more closely. But Madison, ever the pragmatist, came around — especially when it became clear that without these assurances, the Constitution would not be ratified.
So, Madison took it upon himself to draft the ten amendments.
The First Amendment is the most famous. It clearly sets out some of our most fundamental rights, the rights for which America has been universally admired.
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…
The Second Amendment protects the right of the people to possess firearms.
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 Third Amendment is the most obscure, but made perfect sense to a citizenry that had, within recent memory, fought off the British Army.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner…
The Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from arresting you or searching your belongings without some reason to think that a crime has occurred.
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…
The Fifth Amendment guarantees you a fair legal process before you’re deprived of your freedom or property, and protects you from being put on trial for the same crime twice. It also protects you from having to testify against yourself in court. This is the source of the phrase “plead the fifth.” And if the government takes your property to put it to public use—for example, to build a highway—you must be paid a fair price for it.
…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy… ; 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.
The Sixth Amendment gives those charged with a crime the right to have a speedy trial with a lawyer by their side, and to confront their accusers.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial… and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation… and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
The Seventh Amendment gives you the right to trial by jury in civil cases.
In Suits at common law…the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…
The Eighth Amendment protects you from unduly high bail and fines and antiquated forms of punishment.
For the full script, visit: https://www.prageru.com/video/the-constitution-our-bill-of-rights