The Bill of Rights in the United States

Abstract

This paper defines what is bill of rights as the fundamental rights and freedoms which should be provided to everyone to preserve human dignity. It limits the government of any state from interfering with people’s enjoyment in their lives when exercising its powers. It also ensures that during the amendments of the laws of the state the government does not interfere with these fundamental rights. However, Bill of rights ensures that as people enjoy their rights and freedoms they do not interfere with those enjoyed by others. These rights include; right to live, right to be given security by the government, freedom of movement in ones state, right to free basic education and right to be heard in a court of law and considered innocent until proved guilty.

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Introduction

In the man’s history there has always been a struggle between the people’s rights and government authority to govern without interfering with these rights. In order to ensure a nation succeeds a balance between rights and liberties of people, the government’s power must exist. This is achieved through establishment of bill of rights. An example is the American bill of rights which was drafted through a number of events. The main aim was to come up with a set of law protecting citizens and visitors of a given state from being deprived of their freedoms. Such freedoms include; religion, speech, owning property, living and assembly.

During the state conventions in the United States, there were amendments that aimed at appeasing anti-federalist and the congress agreed upon ten bills of rights. Political factions disagreed over changes to be made and proposed the changes. First amendment emerged from charged atmosphere from hope of idealistic which was later tinged with practicality. First amendment started early when constitution was written. There was clamoring of declaring peoples rights by Anti-federalists because the new government would be powerful than predecessor. The worry was that, lack of a list of basic freedoms would make federal government have tyrannical power and therefore concluded that peoples government need to have statement of rights and the citizens can hold it responsible if it fails to abide by it.

Freedom of speech, petition, press and religion

Everyone has the freedom of religion and is free to change that religion. People can not be forced to attend religion that they do not like or be forced to change from the religion of their choice. There are different religions which are attended by different people and the state allows people to attend religions that are legal and there is no discrimination on how people should worship in their religion. All people should have freedom of receiving information through media without interference. The press is allowed to gather information in the right manner that is provided by the law and give information that is true to the public so that people can be aware of current affairs in the nation. The press should not be denied their right to gather information even if some members of the public feel that the information provided by the press should not be made public.

When a person commits crime, he is taken to court and can be found guilty or not guilty of the crime. In a situation where one is found guilty of an offence, he has the freedom for petition where he can request for his case to be listened again when he feel that the judgment made need to be reviewed again so that he can be proved innocent. The accused is given a second chance to defend himself and provide evidence where the government provides redress for the grievances. Everyone has the freedom to make speech and speak out his opinion in public provided it is not an incitement of violence. (John, 1991 pp. 51-54).

Right to bear arms

There has been discussion and legislative action that curtail ownership of arms and no resolution has been found by court on the right protected by second amendment. Individuals are always protected from owning, possessing and transporting the arms where state have right of maintaining militia units that are formal and organized. The state provides congregational enactment against constitution prohibiting that seems to affirm protection of individual in context of maintaining public force. The major emphasis by the congress is placing limitation on how fire arms should be received, possessed and transported and proposals have been made for prohibition of firearms and the classes of fire arms that are supposed to conflict with amendments. (Eden, 1998 pp. 33-37).

Bill of right on condition for quarters of soldiers

There is no soldier whether in time of war or peace should be quartered in ones house without permission by the owner unless in a manner provided by the law. Every person has right to his own house and he can use it whenever he wants without being interfered with by the soldiers even if it is in time of war. The soldiers should not intrude into houses even if they are armed to look for shelter because they might end up interfering with people’s right to privacy. When such cases are found, they should be reported and legal action taken against soldiers who are caught in such an act. If the owner of the house by his own free will allows the soldiers to use his house or the law requires such a house to be used, then the soldiers have the legal right to use it.

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Right of search and regulated seizure

All individuals have a right to be protected against interference of his home, privacy or his reputation; the law protects him from this. People should live in their house without fear because no one is allowed to interfere with them or intrude their houses without their consent because their houses is considered private and even if there is need for the house to be searched, that should not be done by use of force and the personal effects should not be interfered with at any given time. People should always feel secure from all searches that are unreasonable and that right should not be violated at all and also there should be no warrant except probable cause that is supported by affirmation or oath that describe the place that need to be searched and people or properties that needs to be seized. A person has a right to reside anywhere within his state and live in house of his choice which should offer enough privacy and not be interfered with by the state. (Paula, 2001 pp. 43-47).

Bill on prosecution

A person should not be held to give an answer to infamous crime unless under Grand Jury indictment expect for a case of naval forces, land, during war or in public danger and person who is subject to the offense shall not be accused of any criminal case or be deprived of life or property without following the process of law and his public property shall not be taken to be for public use without being compensated.

The bill provides that no one should be forced against himself to be a witness or life deprived from him or even property without respecting the law. When private property is used for public purpose, the owner should be compensated. The bill of right ensures that a person accused legally has a right to provide evidence to defend him and not be forced to give false evidence to the crime he committed. The bill of right protects individuals from unfair judgment which is not according to the law. (Vincent, 1993 pp. 27-31).

Right to a speedy trial and witness

The bill ensures that if one commits a crime he or she undergoes a speedy trial in accordance with the laws of the state where the crime occurred. In criminal prosecutions, the accused enjoys right to speedy trial by impartial jury of state and public trial which is within the district where the crime was committed and the law shall ascertain to the district where it is informed about why offender was accused in order to be confronted by witness who is against him and get witness who will provide evidence that favors him and the counsel to assist his defense.

Bill on right to trial by jury

In common law, if in controversy the value is more than twenty dollars trial by jury is preserved as a right but without further reexamination than granted in the common law. Bill of rights has a way of restricting powers of a certain government. For example a government will not suspend laws without permission of those people appointed or elected to represent the citizens. The government will also not execute laws in absence of consent from citizen’s representatives. The bill of rights recognizes that people are equally free by nature and independent and possess inherent rights.

Bill on excessive bail and punishment

It was made illegal to exercise excessive bail or to impose fine along with punishments which were unusual. When an offender is found guilty of crime, the fine imposed on him should be according to the law of the state or nation. Therefore, there should be no excess fines based on discrimination or corruption and also fines should not be below the requirement of the law due to favor. Unusual punishments are prohibited by the law and after trial; no offender should be exposed to unusual or cruel punishment.

Bill on construction of constitution

The rights granted in the constitution should not deny other rights already retained by people. In the bill of rights various declarations were made by the lords as follows; legal authority should not suspend laws without permission by parliament and should not execute laws without consent of people’s representatives. It was made illegal to have commission for electing other commissions and no money was supposed to be charged in the use of the crown beyond the time allocated by the parliament. During the ordinary circumstances a standing army was abolished unless authorized by the parliament while Good Protestants were allowed to be armed just like papist. Provision was also granted to elect members in parliament; an exercise that was supposed to be free and fair.

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Bill on rights of state under constitution

In case of any power which is not delegated to the state in the constitution or not prohibited should be reserved to that state or the people. The act of human rights also demands that everyone be granted social security with the facilitation of national co-operation to grant someone realization in line with the organization of his state. A person should have a right to work with a free choice on what kind of employment he want but must be given favorable working conditions including job security. Where employees have done equal work they are entitled to equal pay without discrimination of any kind. An employee should be granted enough remuneration for his basic needs and those of his family and where possible this should be supplemented using other means to uphold his human dignity. The supplement can take the form of social protection for one to ensure his interests are adequately protected. All people working or not are entitled to leisure and rest and for those who are employed the number of working hours should be limited and paid even when on holidays.

A person should have adequate living standard to ensure good health for him and his family. These include clothing, food, shelter, medical services and security during unemployment or if one become disabled or in any other circumstance that make him not to engage in any income generating activity. All women during their motherhood and children have a right to special care and if a child is born out of wedlock should have equal right to protection to those born in the wedlock. The article also provides that everyone has equal access to free basic education which should be compulsory and at other levels education should be made available and accessible on merit. The kind of education is shaped so as provide full development of personality and to instill respect for human rights in the pupils thus promoting understanding and tolerance between nations irrespective of the race or religion to ensure peace prevails between all nations. Every parent has a right in choosing on the kind of education his child should have. In accordance to these rights everyone should access free participation in the life of his community and enjoy an equal chance in scientific progress and benefits of the society. (Philip, 1991 pp.25-30).

If one becomes an author, he should be granted protection on the interest from his work. Where the development of ones personality is fully possible in a particular community one has a duty to play. During the exercise of ones rights one is subjected to a limitation only if it is interfering with other people’s right or if it is not meeting the requirement of general public order in the society. The rights must be exercised in line with the objectives of the United Nations. In this declaration no interpretation should be taken to imply any state or person to grant any right to indulge in activities of destruction of rights set. (Burnham, 2000 pp. 60-63).

Conclusion

In summary, bill of right preserves the dignity of everyone as a human being and provides an equal opportunity for all to enjoy these rights. An effort should be put in place to teach these rights and freedoms in institutions of learning so as to ensure the society is enlightened. The bill of rights should be made universal and all states in the world should be encouraged to be members. It ensures wherever one goes you are treated equally even if you have committed a crime.

The bill of rights once enacted becomes a fundamental symbol in a nation for citizens’ freedoms. Before the American Revolution, its colonies adopted confederations article to unite themselves during their struggle for independence. However, this was not sufficient in providing a centralized government. To solve these problem representatives from these colonies met to come up with a document which would help in forming a new government. At first the issue of bill of rights was proposed in the convention but was disregarded without being addressed. They were interested with only a few rights. According to them there was no need to have guaranteed rights. When the constitution was sent to the states, people felt that their rights would not be protected enough by the government without being specific to enumerated rights. About 600 years before the bill of rights was drafted a document known as the Magna Carta was signed by King John to prevent the abuse of power by the crown to the English people. Other similar documents were also drafted. However, even when the drafters provided the colonies with the document which they regarded to be remarkable and with power balance it was considered as incomplete until it included certain rights. As a result the framers began to work on a document by Madison. This document contained the basic rights. (Judith, 1991 pp.12-16).

The country faced a difficult time and many people disagreed on various rights. A proposal of various amendments was provided by the state with a lot of debate on how to go about it. The bill of rights was later given to the states. The state accepted and it has been in place for many years. While drafting this bill it was said the government should not get involved with some misconduct. This was important because in the constitution, there were no expressive rights. The constitution could be amended any time for there was an allowance for this. The bill of rights ensured various aspect regarding peoples rights were not interfered during the amendments. This was fueled by the fact that it had been observed in other government’s people’s rights being abused. The framers therefore wanted to put in place all possible measures.

Even today the bill of rights is as relevant as it was more than 200 years ago. Legal cases are heard as provided in the bill of rights. However, even now some people express fear that other rights unmentioned would appear unprotected by protecting a small section of the mentioned ones. They argue that instead of adding a bill of rights to the already existing constitution a state should have a common law without defining natural rights.

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Reference

Burnham H; (2000): History of bill of rights: Englewood Cliff, PP60-63.

Eden F. (1998): History of bill of the rights: Englewood, PP33-37.

John H; (1991): the bill of rights: Englewood Cliffs, PP51-54.

Judith A. (1991): History of the bill of rights: Silver press, PP12-16.

Paula F. (2001): History of the bill of rights: Silver Burdett, PP43-47.

Philip K. (1991): History of the bill of rights: Silver Burdet, PP25-30.

Vincent B. (1993): understanding the bill of rights: Silver Burdett, PP27-31.

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