2 The Bill of RightsThe first 10 amendments or changes to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights.These amendments protect the rights and liberties of American citizens.The Constitution described how America’s new government would work, but it did not explain how it’s citizens would be protected from this powerful government.Americans wanted the Constitution to include a bill, or list of rights that the government would always have to respect.
3 The Need for a Bill of Rights After fighting the Revolutionary War some Americans were afraid the Constitution was too powerful.In order for several states to pass the Constitution, a bill of rights was needed for votes.A bill of rights is a document that lists the rights and liberties that the government could not take away!This promise helped to win approval for the Constitution. By July 1788, 11 states had ratified it.
4 James MadisonThe states had sent Congress a number of ideas for amendments.James Madison of Virginia sorted through the various ideas. Then he proposed a set of amendments to Congress.On September 25, 1789, Congress voted to approve the 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights.The amendments were then sent to the states for ratification (approval).
5 First AmendmentThe First Amendment prevents Congress from making laws that take away certain basic rights.Among these rights are freedom of religion, speech, and press.Freedom of Religion- Americans can choose their religious beliefs and practices.Freedom of Speech- Is the freedom to express opinions and beliefs. Freedom of Speech does have limits. People cannot use this freedom to harm others or to break the laws.Freedom of the Press- Americans have the freedom to report news and express opinions in newspapers and in others ways. Freedom of the Press has limits as well. It does not include the freedom to spread lies about other people.The First Amendment also protects people’s right to assemble (gather in groups) and their right to petition (ask the government to correct injustices).
6 Second AmendmentThe Second Amendment describes the need of states to have militia, or volunteer army.For this reason, it says that the government cannot take away people’s right to “keep and bear (carry) arms,” or weapons.Today, this amendment protects Americans the right to own hunting rifles and certain kinds of guns. However, there are laws in place to own a gun and how they are to be used. There are serious consequences to those who do not follow these laws.
7 Fourth AmendmentThe Fourth Amendment forbids “unreasonable search and seizures” by police and other officials.Seizure- Taking away property by force.The Fourth Amendment says that searches and seizures cannot be performed without good reason.The Fourth Amendment limits the power of police to search or invade homes and businesses. Most searches require a warrant (an order from a judge). The officials must show “probable cause” (good reason) to obtain a warrant.If a search or seizure violates the Fourth Amendment, the evidence cannot be used in court.
8 Fifth AmendmentThe Fifth Amendment protects the rights of Americans who are suspected of a crime.The Fifth Amendment protects citizens against “double jeopardy”.Jeopardy- Means danger, such as the danger of losing freedom by being put in jail. This protection means that people cannot be put on trial or punished twice for the same crime.The Fifth Amendment also says that people cannot be forced to be witnesses against themselves. This amendment protects people from being forced to say things that can be used against them.The Fifth Amendment also says that people cannot be punished or lose their property without “due process of law,” such as a fair trial.
9 Sixth AmendmentThe Sixth Amendment describes additional rights of people who are accused of crimes. It guarantees the right to a fair trial and the right to have a lawyer.The Sixth Amendment says:Trials must be speedy and public.Juries must be impartial or prejudiced against the accused person.The accused has the right to a lawyer. If the accused is too poor to pay a lawyer, the government must provide a lawyer.
10 This amendment says that fines cannot be “excessive,” or unreasonable. The Eighth Amendment protects citizens’ rights to fair and reasonable punishment when they break the law.This amendment says that fines cannot be “excessive,” or unreasonable.The Eighth Amendment also forbids excessive bail. Bail is the money used to a person out of jail while waiting for a trial. The courts do not have to allow bail in all cases.Most important, this amendment forbids “cruel and unusual” punishment. People wanted this because of the harsh “Intolerable Acts” from the 1700’s.Capital Punishment- The death penalty is considered by some states as “cruel and unusual” punishment. Some states have the death penalty and some do not. Ohio has the death penalty executing 12 people since 1976.Eighth Amendment
11 What Happened to the Others? Third Amendment- Americans cannot be forced to let soldiers stay in their homes.Seventh Amendment- Protects people’s rights to settle disputes with a trial by jury.Ninth Amendment- Says that the Constitution’s list of rights is not meant to be complete. Other rights that Americans have include the freedom to choose where to live and what kind of work to do.Tenth Amendment- Limits the power of the national government. The U.S. government has only the powers listed in the Constitution. All other powers belong to the states or to the people.