The Constitution of the United States and it’s Amendments are neither left nor right, liberal or conservative. It’s Bill of Rights Day today, December 15th.
As I write this our government’s Attempts to prosecute WikiLeaks endanger press freedoms (Salon.com).
As two of the most recent comments on Glenn Greenwald’s Dec. 14th article pointed out, the Supreme Court ruled in Lovell v. City of Griffin, GA, 303 U.S. 444 1938 that “The press in it’s connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion”. The Court quoted from the First and Fourteenth Amendments in it’s decision. Quoth another commenter: “The use of the word “prosecution” should be changed in ALL these matters to PERSECUTION.”
As I said previously, the Bill of rights is not a politically partisan document, and it’s not voluminous. In fact there are several sources, including the Cato Institute, where Pocket sized booklets with the entire Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States with the Bill of Rights can be purchased inexpensively.
Here is a version with some extra explanation added in parenthesis (most versions don’t add the explanatory notes).
ARTICLES in addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the legislatures of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the legislatures of the several States pursuant to the original Constitution.
The BILL OF RIGHTS
(First Amendment - religion, speech, press, assembly, and petitioning the government)
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.
(Second Amendment - Right to Keep and Bear Arms,)
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.
(Third Amendment - Protection from the Quartering of Troops in one’s home)
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.
(Fourth Amendment - Individual Sovereignty, Security and Privacy, Warrants required for presentation and later return, all but particularly described items and persons to be excluded and accountability by sworn oath that the cause is probable )
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 warrant 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.
(Fifth Amendment - Right of the accused to not be questioned about themselves, no double jeopardy, liberty, property)
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or other 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.
(Sixth Amendment - Due and Proper Process, right to a speedy trial, to subpoena witnesses and evidence for the defense, to know what the the charges and evidence are, to have the assistance of a lawyer and an impartial jury, )
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 council for his defense.
(Seventh Amendment - Rights in Civil Trials)
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.
(Eighth Amendment - Bail, Fines and Punishment)
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
(Ninth Amendment - The rights of individuals are not limited to those listed here.)
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
(Tenth Amendment - Federal Government’s Power Limited)
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.
(Fourteenth Amendment - EQUAL RIGHTS and PRIVILEGES under the law, and the bill of rights made binding upon all levels of government and throughout the nation as an absolute minimum amount of individual liberty which must be “preserved, protected and defended” as embodied in the required oath for every public office throughout the land)
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United State, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within it’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
If you wish to help support and defend the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or learning more please contact the
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY, 10004
or visit their website at http://www.aclu.org/.