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Constitutional amendments

by Keith Barber

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First Amendment

“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,” states the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Without the First Amendment, YES! Weekly would not exist. We are most grateful to the Founding Fathers for their understanding that the key to a free society is a free press.

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Fourth Amendment

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…,” states the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. The Fourth Amendment represents the bedrock of many of the civil liberties we enjoy as US citizens.

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Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment protects all US citizens from double jeopardy and self-incrimination and declares that no person shall 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 represents a pillar of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

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13 th Amendment

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. With its passage in 1865, America held true to its founding principle that all men are created equal.

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19 th Amendment

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” states the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. Better known as “Women’s Suffrage,” the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1920, the first important step in the Equal Rights Movement.

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Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment guarantees all US citizens the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of their peers. This amendment prevents citizens being detained for lengthy periods of time before having their cases heard.

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Seventh Amendment

Ratified by Congress in 1791, the Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to trial by jury in civil cases, another anchor of our liberties as US citizens.

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Eighth Amendment

The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment in the form of excessive bail or excessive fines in criminal cases. This amendment protects the rights of the common citizen to receive equal treatment under the law.

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Ninth Amendment

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” states the Ninth Amendment to the US Constitution. This amendment reflects the Founding Fathers’ wishes to protect the individual rights of the people at all costs.

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Tenth Amendment

The Powers of the States and People amendment deals directly with states’ right. The amendment declares, “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.” Therefore, whatever powers are not delegated to the federal government are given to the states or the people directly. This amendment is perhaps best summed up in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address where he expresses the ideal of “government of the people, by the people, for the people…”

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