Constitutional quotes and discussions
When the US Constitution was sent to the states for ratification in 1787, Anti-Federalists argued that a Bill of Rights should be added. One argument of Federalists against the addition of a Bill of Rights, during the debates about ratification of the Constitution, was that a listing of rights could problematically enlarge the powers specified in Article One, Section 8 of the new Constitution, by implication. For example, in Federalist 84, Alexander Hamilton asked, "why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?" Likewise, James Madison explained to Thomas Jefferson as follows: "I conceive that in a certain degree ... the rights in question are reserved by the manner in which the federal powers are granted" in Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution.
Well Mr. Hamilton, I have an answer for you...
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.
Time to store our things in fractal spacelike metrics which they'll never be able to describe...
* Fifth Amendment: forbids trial for a major crime except after indictment by a grand jury; prohibits double jeopardy (repeated trials), except in certain very limited circumstances; forbids punishment without due process of law; and provides that an accused person may not be compelled to testify against himself (this is also known as "Taking the fifth" or "Pleading the fifth"). This is regarded as the "rights of the accused" amendment. It also prohibits government from taking private property without "just compensation," the basis of eminent domain in the United States.
* Sixth Amendment: guarantees a speedy public trial for criminal offenses. It requires trial by a jury (of peers), guarantees the right to legal counsel for the accused, and guarantees that the accused may require witnesses to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the accused. It also guarantees the accused a right to know the charges against him. The Sixth Amendment has several court cases associated with it, including Powell v. Alabama, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, Gideon v. Wainwright, and Crawford v. Washington. In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that the fifth amendment prohibition on forced self incrimination and the sixth amendment clause on right to counsel were to be made known to all persons placed under arrest, and these clauses have become known as the Miranda rights.
* Seventh Amendment: assures trial by jury in civil cases involving anything valued at more than 20 United States dollars at the time, which is currently worth $300, when accounting for inflation.
* Eighth Amendment: forbids excessive bail or fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.
5 out of the 10 amendments that make up the bill of rights deal with juris-prudence, rights of the accused, and limitations upon the justice system in general. Anyone else think maybe they had a reason for this?
Out of all of the amendments made to the constitution after 1900, the majority increase the powers of the federal government - some drastically, such as the 16th amendment in 1913. Only three actually created more freedom - the 19th, 24th, and 26th - and these all dealt with the same freedom, that of voting. These three amendments granted voting rights to women, and all people age 18 and older, and banned poll taxes which were often used to disenfranchise the impoverished. Of the amendments prior to 1900, virtually all of them enhanced freedom and liberty, or further restricted the federal government. Think about it. Talk about it here.
Quotes are from the Constitution itself, and from wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Constitution <-- Read, learn, share, discuss!