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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Editorial: Honoring Our Rights, 218 Years Later

By Shari Phiel
Berthoud Recorder

Next Monday, Dec. 15, 2008, marks the 218th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights. Few documents have had such a tremendous impact on the protections and freedoms afforded to our country’s citizens. Perhaps even more remarkable when you consider a motion to include the Bill of Rights in the Constitution was rejected at the original Constitutional Convention in 1787.

As the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights were as important to the balance between our country’s government and the rights of the people as the constitution itself, perhaps in many ways even more so. After all, it was the bill of rights that guaranteed U.S. citizens freedom of religion, reasonable search and seizure, a speedy trial and a trial by jury. These rights also ensured our citizens wouldn’t be subjected to cruel or unusual punishment, couldn’t be tried on the same charge twice (double jeopardy) nor be compelled to testify in a criminal case if that testimony would be self-incriminating.

What better time to remember and what better piece of history to honor.

Amendment I

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.

Amendment II

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.

Amendment III

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.

Amendment IV

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.

Amendment V

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.

Amendment VI

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

Amendment VII

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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people.


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