Justifying the Bill of Rights Kymberli Morse LEG107 November 3, 2012 Attorney Charlene Bean Assignment 1: Justifying the Bill of Rights The amendments are an important part of the U. S. Constitution because the Bill of Rights has a remarkable effect on all Americans in our everyday lives and in our legal system. Therefore, I feel the 10th Amendment which refers to powers not given to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This is the most important amendment in the definition of federal v. states’ powers. Since the early 1900s, the federal government has assumed a considerable amount of power that the states have let go. Much of this power has to do with regulation of the economy by the federal government, education, and the funding of government programs. One example was the denial of federal funding to states by the Reagan administration (1981-89) for highway construction unless the state reduced the speed limit to 55 mph.
This amendment is the most important one in the Constitution for permitting the people of the states to decide their own lifestyle, their distribution of possessions, the way they educate their citizens, provide medical care, and control the environment. This provides a clear path to creating the living conditions that each American would like. The way to start asserting this power is to encourage state leaders to resist unfunded federal mandates.
An example would be to not enforce the “No Child Left Behind” Act and its never-ending testing of students unless the federal government provides the funds to carry it out (Bates, N. D. ). Furthermore, the 14th amendment is another of the big amendments to the Bill of Rights. It was written for the all states to stand by, in part “that all persons born or naturalized in the United States, 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 its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Bureau of International Information Programs United States Department of State, 2004). Every business day, courts throughout the United States render decisions that together affect hundreds of thousands of people.
However, some affect only the parties to a particular legal action, but others adjudicate rights, benefits, and legal principles that have an influence on virtually all Americans. Inevitably, many Americans welcome a given ruling while others, sometimes countless others, disapprove, accept for the legality of these decisions, and of the courts’ role as final translator of the law. There can be no more powerful demonstration of the trust that Americans place in the rule of law and their con? dence in the U. S. legal system (Bureau of International Information Programs United States Department of State, 2004).
The one amendment that comprises the Bill of Rights for closer analysis, I feel is the Third Amendment and it definitely should be the first to get a closer analysis. It is ignored because it is, in fact, of no current importance whatsoever (although it did, for obvious reasons, have importance at the time of the founding). It has never, for a single minute, been viewed by any modern lawyers or groups of laypeople as highly relevant to their legal or political concerns. For this reason, there is almost no case law on Amendment III. (Levinson, N. D. ).
In my opinion, the 6th Amendment offers the most protection for defendants as it states, “[I]n 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 Counsel for his defense” (Bureau of International Information Programs United States Department of State, 2004) . Therefore, with the contents of the 6th Amendment in mind, what happens in a criminal case is after charges are filed against a defendant, and if no plea bargain has been made, a trial is conducted by a U. S. district judge. In court the defendant enjoys all the privileges and immunities granted in the Bill of Rights, Amendment VI such as, the right to a speedy and public rial, or by congressional legislation or Supreme Court rulings. For instance, a 12-person jury must render a unanimous verdict in a criminal case for a defendant to be found guilty of the crime for which he is accused. However, a defendant may waive the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. If there is a jury to decide the criminal case, and there is not a unanimous decision by the jury, it can be an acquittal for the defendant. A defendant who is found not guilty of the crime is set free and may never be tried again for the same offense, the Fifth Amendment’s protection against double jeopardy. Now, the 4th Amendment, in my opinion, is the most protective for victims.
It provides, “[T]he 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 (The University of Chicago, 1987) Under the Fourth Amendment, the United States citizens are supposed to be protected from frivolous searches and seizures. The officials wanting to search must provide probable cause, acquire a search warrant from a judge which specifies the exact location and the exact items to be searched and seized. Increasingly, the US government has undermined this right with the drug seizure laws and the USA Patriot Act. Even conservatives are concerned with the “sneak and peek” provision of that law.
It is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment (Bates, N. D. ) An example of the 4th Amendment at work would be The Victims’ Rights Movement. This movement includes three major essentials. The first is an interest in guaranteeing victim participation in criminal proceedings. This element includes notice of proceedings and the right to be present and to be heard at them. This also promotes opportunities for victims to consult with prosecutors regarding whether to charge or to plea bargain with defendants. This set of interests may be called the participating rights element of the movement. A second broad goal of the movement is to secure financial benefits and services for crime victims.
This effort has led to restitution orders from criminals, which are required in many jurisdictions, and victim compensation programs funded from governmental resources. This focus also seeks to secure other services, such as shelters and support services for domestic violence victims, and for certain recognizable groups of victims. The final element involves of efforts to secure more certain and stricter punishment for criminals, including restricting pretrial release, free admission of evidence against the accused and tougher sentencing practices. The Victims’ Rights Movement has many aspects, including both liberal and conservative components. Sometimes it conflicts with the prosecution, and sometimes it serves as the prosecution’s supporter. (Mosteller, 2002).
Today, some examples of how the Constitution affects you and I in our daily life is first things first, the Commonwealth Constitution affects our taxes, yours and mine; it affects the way we are defended in a court of law, how we can marry and divorce; what pensions I am due; how I can post a letter or make a telephone call; what customs and excise I must pay if I were to own a business; and what type of money I can use and where. It even affects the access I have to television and the types of programs I can watch. The Constitution gives every American the right to trial by jury, religious freedom and freedom from discrimination. An example in my life is that I can choose the church I attend and the religion I choose to worship.
A second is the security I feel when I wake up in the morning and my personal belongings are still mine, and third would be the Constitution determines the civil surroundings in which I live and limits the government from acting against my interests or liberties without showing a convincing interest in doing so. As such, it protects me from government interference. The Constitution is the invisible fabric of our society. People know that what they agree to in writing will be enforced or there is the right to sue another for unlawful activity in a legal court. Most importantly a very prominent example of how the Constitution, and the way it’s been interpreted by the judicial branch, affects my daily life, is currently through Internet privacy. There are still many questions about how people can protect their privacy online.
Google and Facebook deal in data, most importantly our intimate data, information about ourselves from why we hate our job to someone’s criminal plans. We transmit such secrets willingly and happily to online networks and search engines as if it were over coffee with a close friend in our kitchen. Yet within these social networks, which give us the false impression of privacy, many people are watching, analyzing and using the details of our lives (Nicholson, 2012). With 750 million members, Facebook is the third largest nation in the world. Particularly with its new timeline, users and consumer advocates continue to complain that it violates users’ privacy.
Therefore, I feel that by using social networks we are pulling the rug out from under our own rights because we are creating the impression that people do not expect privacy. I think that’s completely wrong. References: Bates, J. (N. D. ). Origins Of The United States Bill Of Rights . Retrieved October 30, 2012, from Global Dialog Project: http://www. global-dialog. org/democracy/Constitution. html Bureau of International Information Programs United States Department of State. (2004). Outline of the U. S. Legal System. Retrieved October 29, 2012, from usinfo. state. gov: http://photos. state. gov/libraries/korea/49271/dwoa_122709/Outline-of-the-U_S_-Legal-System. pdf Levinson, S. (N. D. ). The Embarrassing Second Amendment.
Retrieved October 30, 2012, from Constitution Society: http://constitution. org/mil/embar2nd. htm Mosteller, R. P. (2002). Encyclopedia. com. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from Victims’ Rights: http://www. encyclopedia. com/topic/Victims_rights. aspx Nicholson, C. (2012, May 31). The Scary Details About What Facebook Knows About You. Retrieved October 30, 2012, from Smart Planet: http://www. smartplanet. com/blog/thinking-tech/q-a-the-scary-details-of-what-facebook-knows-about-you/11813 The University of Chicago. (1987). Amendment IV. Retrieved October 29, 2012, from The Founder’s Constitution: http://press-pubs. uchicago. edu/founders/tocs/amendIV. html