Thursday, September 18, 2008

From I <3 Transylvania

The Bill of Rights


The Bill of Rights consists of amendments that have secured our country through many years. Without them we would not be what we are today. But some amendments we could live without if we had to. This consists of: Amendment II, Amendment III, Amendment IV, Amendment VII, and Amendment X. The most important amendments that should be kept are: Amendment I, Amendment V, Amendment VI, Amendment VIII, and Amendment IX.

“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.” Though some carry guns for defense, it causes more trouble than it solves. Criminals get a hold on their guns from local stores. If guns were not as easy to get into someone’s hands, crime rates would go down. There will still be crimes, but guns are the number one weapons used and are most efficient. Without them, you couldn’t kill fast enough to escape without being caught. You wouldn’t need to use it as protection if no one else has it as a weapon against you. “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 anything that the Constitution does not say that the Congress can do should be left up to the states and people for decision. Not everyone makes good decisions, which is why we should not put it in the hands of random people. People can help in making the decisions, but in order to keep the country in order, we must make sure that only efficient laws are passed. In New Jersey there is a law that says it is illegal to “frown” at a police officer. Laws like that should not be made and we need to regulate them. “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.” This means that you do not have to allow soldiers to live in your home, except if there is a war. However, even in that situation, they can only do that if Congress has passed a law about it. Soldiers do not need to live in our homes because they live in tents or other shelters that the government equips them with. Therefore this amendment is unnecessary. “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.” This one says is very clear: No one can search through your belongings without a warrant (which they can only get if they have a really good reason to search through your belongings). However, there might be case where in order to safeguard a life of an individual or for the safety of the public it may be necessary that the government be allowed less restricted rights to conduct searches of one’s property, communications, etc. This is the same debate around the wire-tapping decrees pursued by the Bush Administration. “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.” This amendment should be updated. Twenty dollars is not a large amount these days. In certain cases, it is not clear that if a special case occurs, it should not be allowed that the same case should not be tried in, for example civil court and military court (i.e. common law and military law).

“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.” This means Congress cannot make to stop you from practicing your religion or speaking your mind and writing about it. Congress also cannot stop you from disagreeing with the government. This right it the most important right because without freedom of speech and the press we are like a dictatorship. Without freedom of religion we are just like we were in the past. The Pilgrims left England to come to America so they could have freedom of religion. People today would leave America to go to a place that has freedom of religion. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” This means that you are not allowed to be tortured as a punishment, or any other kind of cruel punishment. The government also cannot make you pay more than is reasonable fines and other charges. People need punishments that are efficient, but not unreasonable. For a small-scale crime, the criminal should not have to pay a very large sum of money. Torturing is wrong to do to anyone, for it is inhumane. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This means that just because these certain rights are listed in the Constitution, it does not mean that you do not have other rights as well. The Constitution cannot contradict in its writing or it loses its value. “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.” This amendment means that you cannot be on trial for any serious crime without a Grand Jury meeting first to decide whether there's enough evidence for a trial. If the jury decides that you are innocent, the government cannot try again with another jury. It also says that you don't have to say anything at your trial. The judge cannot give you a death sentence, put you in jail, or fine you, unless a jury convicted you of a crime. The government cannot take your house or your property, unless the government pays for it. It is harassment if the government keeps bringing someone back to court for the same charges, with no new, significant evidence. The accused would have to keep paying his/her lawyers and also will waste a lot of time, energy, and live in fear and stress. “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.” This amendment means that if you are arrested, you have a right to have your trial soon. The government cannot keep you in jail without putting you on trial. The trial must be public, so everyone knows what happens in the court. The case also has to be decided by a jury of citizens from your area. You have the right to know what you are accused of, to see and hear the people who are witnesses who are against you, and to have the government help you get witnesses on your side. You also have the right to have a lawyer to help you win your case. This prevents the government from arbitrarily keeping people arrested without any proven reason, and thus disrupting someone’s life, for no reasonable cause.

All in all, there are perhaps debatable aspects of some of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, which mostly pertain to the utility or the modernity of their clauses. However, the basic ideas stated by the Bill of Rights are as important today as they were two centuries ago and are key ingredients for the prosperity and well-being of our society.

1 comment:

evermorefire said...

When you say, "Soldiers do not need to live in our homes because they live in tents or other shelters that the government equips them with," you realize that, if given the choice, soldiers would rather live in a house than in a tent? The reason they live in tents is because they aren't allowed to force citizens to house them. I'm sure that if this amendment was removed, soldiers WOULD invade your homes.
Also, the fourth amendment not only protects you from having policemen randomly searching your house, but also protects you from having your property seized. I've said this on various other posts, but what do you think you'll do if one day the government says to your family, "We need your house for safety purposes. It belongs to us now."? Where would you live? Getting rid of the fourth amendment means that everything you own is prone to be taken away at any given time.
If you take away the seventh amendment, you'll no longer be able to properly sue someone. If someone wrecks your car, and you want to sue them, they can just say, "Oh, sorry. I don't have the money. I can't pay you that much. I can only pay you ___ amount." Amendment seven prevents this, as long as the value in controversy surpasses 20 dollars. 20 dollars being a small amount doesn't have anything to do with anything. It just means if someone owes you more than 20 dollars, you have a right to take it to court.
Getting rid of amendment 10 means that the government can chose everything you do in your life. Amendment 10 says that the stuff that isn't already controlled by the federal government cannot be controlled by them. So, they can't dictate whom you marry, what you eat for breakfast, or what you do with your life. I most certainly don't want someone else deciding what I should do for me.

-evermorefire