The U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights are mentioned nearly daily in political discourse but for many citizens, it’s been a while since they read them through.The Bill of Rights, consisting of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, provides the basic rights of American citizens and limits the government’s power. Here is the text of these amendments, simplified:
1) Each citizen has the right to the freedom of religion, speech, and press and is allowed to assemble and petition the government.
2) Everyone has the right to have a gun (for lawful purposes) and the right to form as a militia.
3) This prohibits the government from forcing citizens to quarter soldiers in their home during peacetime. It is provisionally allowed during war.
4) Citizens are protected from unwarranted search and seizure, and warrants must be specific and issued upon probable cause.
5) Citizens are protected from “double jeopardy” (being tried twice for the same crime), cannot be forced to incriminate themselves, and are generally protected from abuse at the hands of the courts.
6) Everyone has the right to a fair and unbiased trial by jury as well as the right to counsel (a lawyer).
7) In civil cases, the right to a trial by jury is still preserved; the case may not be reexamined in another court.
8) Cruel and unusual punishment may not be used upon a citizen, and bails may not be unreasonably high.
9) This amendment states that citizens hold rights that are not enumerated in the Constitution, and that those not enumerated are not necessarily not there.
10) If a right wasn’t given to the federal government or prohibited to the States in the Constitution, it is held by either the States or the people.
Though originally they only protected white landowners, it has since been expanded to all citizens. The Constitution contains 27 ratified amendments.
By: Sam LaFrance