The Bill of Rights Explained Part: 1Amy Sharp | October 17, 2018
It is hard with the grand disagreement between liberals and conservatives to see the neutralism and grand benefits of the American government and justice system. In 1607, when America was colonized, those that left their homes needed true freedom. Many mistake the definition of freedom with “the right to do anything you want” while that is simply not the case when it comes to government. In America, the simple definition of freedom is the ability to do, say, and think without repercussions from the government as long as you are not harming yourself or others. This concept resulted in the Bill of Rights, or the first 10 amendments in the U.S Constitution that grant us our unalienable rights as Americans.
For those that need a reminder, the Bill of Rights grants us many rights, which many think means that we are free to do anything that we want, or the opposite. Many think that even though we have freedom of speech, for example, the government still controls everything that we do and ultimately we have no true freedom. Allow me to explain the Bill of Rights in simple terms so that everyone can truly understand what these freedoms entail.
- The First Amendment states that Congress (the government) cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech or the press, or stop citizens from peaceful assembly. As well, it grants Americans the right to petition the government when they believe there has been an unlawful or unfair decision made.
- The Second Amendment is the right to bear arms. This Amendment grants the people necessary security in the case that the government goes against the Constitution and tries to take away the lives and freedom of the American people. The right to bear arms was not granted to us for the sake of protection against other citizens, but rather protection against the government.
- The Third Amendment allows the freedom of homes during wartime: that nobody is required by law to open their homes to a solider, unless they decide to do so on their own consent.
- The Fourth Amendment grants protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that each person has the right to privacy in their homes and vehicles and this cannot be taken away, unless by warrant that has been issued on the basis of probable cause and that warrant must describe exactly what is being searched and what they are looking for. This, in more simple terms, means that a police officer cannot just come and search you, your home or vehicle unless there is probable cause. Even when there is probable cause, law enforcement is only granted access to search for a specific thing and only in specific areas. Even in the event of a crime being committed, your privacy is still respected.
- The Fifth Amendment is the protection of rights to life, liberty, and property. This means that if you are being accused of a crime, you are protected against self-incrimination, meaning that you have the right to stay silent in an interrogation, you cannot be tried twice for the same crime, and you cannot be convicted and sent to prison without due process of law taking place. This is amazing because while the system is not perfect, you are still guaranteed the opportunity to protect yourself, stand up for yourself, and if you are deemed innocent and released you cannot ever be tried for that crime again. This ensures that when going through the court process it is done right and fair to the best of everyone’s abilities.
These first five amendments focus on the rights of everyone whether innocent or guilty. These ensure that no matter what Americans are protected, not just from others citizens that may try to steal or kill, but from the government itself.
Stay tuned for “The Bill of Rights: Part 2” that will include the last 5 amendments of the Bill of Rights.