Homework: Article (5 freedoms I would give up if I had to) – Due Thursday, September 18, 2008
The United States of America, our homeland, is a nearly perfect country. We have an excellent education system, equality no matter what race or gender you are, a spectacular government, and a very reasonable, civilized Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights consists of ten amendments that allow us to live in a fair, peaceful and successful society. I personally believe that without the Bill of Rights, our country would crumble beneath our feet, like a cat being crumbled beneath a speeding car. Despite the fact that all ten amendments are incredibly essential to keeping our amazing nation civilized, it is possible for some to be deemed more important than others. It was extremely hard to decide which five amendments to give up, but, after weighing each of their effects on society, I have come up with the five amendments I deem to be the least important, when having a civil, successful society in our glorious nation of America.
First of all, I would give up the amendment that states “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.” Personally, I disagree with this amendment. If taking over a certain home or building was absolutely necessary to ensure a successful outcome in an important mission or war, then an army should be permitted to use the structure. Sometimes, winning an important battle is worth taking over someone’s home. Who knows: maybe that battle may hold the future success of our country.
The second amendment I would give up would be the one that states that “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.” Basically, this means that no man or woman will be held without trial and that certain questions asked during interrogation, such as ones that may suggest the accused is guilty, may not be answered. I believe that if I had to choose, then this amendment would be outlawed. Sometimes, asking questions, even those that may imply that the accused is guilty, is necessary.
The third amendment I would sacrifice would be the amendment declaring that “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.” In other words, when a crime is committed, and the alleged perpetrator is caught, the accused has the right to a quick, fair trial within the governing body over them. This amendment could easily be removed, because hey, a trial takes as long as a trial takes. Whether it takes ten years for a trial to come or ten days, the suspected criminal must wait out the time in jail.
The fourth amendment I would forgo would be the one stating “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 reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” Hypothetically, say you stole a CD. This amendment means that you wouldn’t be able to sue for an unreasonable fee, such as one million dollars. Even this is an important amendment to society; I would probably give it up, simply for the fact that something simple and worthless to one person can be complex and valuable to another. People should be allowed to sue for as much money as they want, but it should be up to the judge whether the amount of money desired to be sued for is reasonable or not.
Finally, the Fifth Amendment I would relinquish would be the one stating that “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.” This means that states are permitted to put up their own laws. I most certainly disagree with this amendment, and believe that the President and the Legislative Branches should be put in charge of making all laws. Take fireworks for example. A law in New Jersey states that fireworks are prohibited in our great state, yet in South Carolina, they are perfectly legal. There is much controversy over issues like these, dealing with people smuggling illegal goods into certain states. If we had one source of laws instead of 50, problems like this would be diminished.
Personally, I feel that the Bill of Rights is absolutely flawless as it is right now, but if it needed to be tweaked slightly it would do more good than bad. I would never eliminate any of our amendments, but who knows; maybe a future, mentally insane president will. My personal philosophy is: You never know. Until that day, we should stick with the Bill of Rights we have right now. Our country is pretty much perfect, and I wouldn’t change a thing.