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Yevet Tenney's header

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The Milk House

Just dropping by... The Bill of Rights PDF Print E-mail
Columns - Yevet Tenney
Saturday, 09 October 2010 00:00

(Click here to listen to the podcast of this column.)

As I have worked with the Boy Scouts, I have gained a greater appreciation for the Constitution, and for the Founding Fathers, who set up this nation of free people. I am one of those people who believe that Jesus Christ had a hand in setting up the Constitution. I believe the Founding Fathers spent a great deal of time on their knees communicating with Deity.

They were men of understanding and wisdom because they knew how to listen to God and follow his divine council. They were men who listened to each other, saw the needs of the people, and put those needs above their own passion for power and fame. Devout Christians do that. It was in this spirit that they wrote and ratified the Constitution.

In the beginning, some states were opposed to the Constitution because it had no Bill of Rights. The Founders added the first ten amendments to satisfy those who dissented. I am so glad they did, because today there is much debate and interpretation about the Constitution. The Bill of Rights or the first ten amendments to the Constitution, spells out our rights clearly and without equivocation. I am delighted to take them out and read them. Here is my interpretation of the Bill of Rights.

I may be wrong, but the First Amendment to the Constitution gives me the right to say what I want, whether I am right or wrong. I don’t have to be a constitutional lawyer to have an opinion. It is important for each of us to read and form an opinion before politically correct becomes “thou shalt not”!

Amendment 1 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.

This amendment gives me the right to believe the way I want to believe. The government cannot tell me which religion I need to belong to, and allows all men the same right. This amendment says that I can speak, write, and assemble with my friends in a peaceful manner. It also says that if I am dissatisfied with the government, I can ask government to help me solve my problem without fear of censure.

Amendment 2 – A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

This amendment seems to be under attack on every turn. The Founders wanted us to be able to defend ourselves. Someone once said, “He who has the guns makes the rules.” That is true, and the Founders knew it. We have a constitutional right to our weapons.

Amendment 3 – Quartering of Soldiers. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem today. I don’t know that the government requires citizens to house soldiers, but I am glad it is there. I want my house open to my friends, not the henchmen of a dictator.

Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure. 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.

This amendment is wonderful! This states that no one can come into my house and search randomly for whatever they want. A warrant must be in place and there must be a darn good reason; then they can only search in the places stated in the warrant, and they can only take things that are written in the warrant. My bank account, phone calls and my e-mails, should not be open to the government. They belong to me and originate in my home.

Amendment 5 – No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor 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 allows me to be properly summoned to court. If I am acquitted, I do not have to be tried again. I do not have to witness against myself and I will get a fair trial. It also says that my property cannot be taken for public use without receiving compensation.

Amendment 6 – In 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 defence.

Here we have the right to a speedy, public trial by an impartial jury. We have the right to know upfront what crime we are being accused of. In King George’s time, people could be thrown in jail without cause and could remain there for years. The Founders didn’t want that.

Amendment 7 – In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

We have the right to have a trial by a jury if there is a property dispute amounting to twenty dollars.

Amendment 8 – Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The government cannot throw you in jail and set bails that could never be paid. We are not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment while in prison. The Founders were compassionate individuals and wanted American citizens to be treated with dignity.

Amendment 9 – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

This is the catch-all amendment. In other words, if it is not spelled out in the Constitution, no one needs to suppose that the government could take those rights away. The Founders were forward thinkers. They didn’t know about technologies, but a right to have and use a cell phone is covered under this amendment.

Amendment 10 – 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.

This amendment is under fire today. The government has no right to take powers from the states. They cannot constitutionally decide issues that belong to the state or the people.

I am so glad the Bill of Rights were written and added to the Constitution by our Founding Fathers. We need to know the law. We do not have to be constitutional lawyers or Supreme Court justices to know our rights. We need to know them, hold them sacred, and be ready and willing to defend those rights in the face of those who would take them away.  PD

 

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