Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. I find it almost offensive that I even have to make this statement because there are Citizens that don’t know what it is. Government schools do not teach the Constitution or the history of it and the Amendments to it. The bill of rights was ratified December 15, 1791. These rights were an answer to preventing the Government abuse of its citizens and becoming tyrannical in rule. Why have the citizens allowed violations of these protections? On this anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, I want to remind everyone what they are.

The First Amendment is often called the freedom of speech, press, religion and petition. “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 people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.”

The Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms. “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.” This is a much abused and misunderstood amendment. You need to understand that in 1791 militias were organized and unorganized. Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms and the definition of arms is weapons of war. A key section to this amendment is after the first comma, “being necessary to the security of a free state.” This defines the amendment is for prevention of a tyrannical government out of control.

The Third Amendment is conditions for quarters of soldiers. “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.”

The Fourth Amendment is currently being violated daily by the government. It is the right of search and seizure to be regulated. “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.”

The Fifth Amendment, we are probably familiar with because there is one section of it that’s used consistently in cases usually concerning government officials. “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.”

The Sixth Amendment is the right to a speedy trial. “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 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.”

The Seventh Amendment is the right to trial by jury. This amendment is a basis of jury nullification, the fact that a jury has supreme power and cannot be re-examined by any other court or judge according to rules of common law “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed $20, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, then according to the rules of the common law.”

The Eighth Amendment is excessive bail or cruel punishment. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”

The Ninth amendment is the rule of construction of the Constitution. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

The Tenth Amendment is the rights to the states under Constitution. The abuse of this amendment started with the Civil War and has drastically increased since then. “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.”

I hope everyone will take a short time today to reread these rights, our guarantees of freedom. It is a difficult task to regain freedom once it is given away. But the Constitution guarantees these rights and the First Amendment guarantees the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. Everyone needs to read the Constitution and the amendments. If you don’t have a copy and would like one, please contact the South Carolina Libertarian party and we will see that you receive one.

In liberty, Michael Carmany, Chairman South Carolina Libertarian Party.