On this date in 1789, James Madison of Virginia – and don’t you forget it – introduced 12 amendments to the US Constitution. It was a pretty important step! Of course, it wouldn’t have happened without Patrick Henry, another Virginian…he worked very hard to convince James that they were important.
They are known to us as the Bill of Rights!
They weren’t ratified until 1791, and there ended UP being only 10, but in my book, and frankly, that’s all that matters, today’s the day.
Here’s a refresher, just in case anyone in politics or someone who might be thinking of running for office might be reading…can you hear me now Washington?
Number 1: 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. It’s pretty self-explanatory, you can go to church and no one can bother you, you can meet, write a letter to the editor, and write to your congressman. Try it sometime!
Number 2: 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. I believe in the right to bare arms, and wear sleeves rarely. Ya wanna’ own a gun, own one, just be careful what you do with it.
Number 3: 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. It’s called a military base, they stay there, not in your spare room. This was a big deal because the Brits were lodging Hessian soldiers in the homes of revolutionaries. Sneaky bastardos!!
Number 4: 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. They can’t search you our place without a warrant or probable cause…be careful, don’t give them cause…behave!
Number 5: 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 offence 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. In a nut shell, they can’t try OJ again for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. He can’t be tried for the same crime twice. You don’t have to testify against yourself, and they can’t take your place with out paying you for it.
Number 6: 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 defence. If you are accused of a crime, you get a lawyer, you get a trial, and you get a jury, and it shouldn’t take forever to get it done!
Number 7: 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. If your tree falls on your neighbors house, you get a jury trial, you don’t have to just settle.
Number 8: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. The judge can’t hit you with a ridiculous amounts of bail, and water-boarding is illegal…oops!
Number 9: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. The Constitution protects you from things even IT doesn’t know about. Things that might come UP. Hey they internet wasn’t invented back then; heck, Al Gore wasn’t born until 1948!
Number 10: 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. If it’s not in the Constitution, the states get to figure it out. Ok, so the Civil War may have muddied that last one, but hey, it’s still in there!
Have a great day, and enjoy your freedoms today! The Founding Fathers had Great Expectations for us.