Every democratic country is governed by a constitution that binds everyone, including the government. A constitution is grounded on precedents that act as the legal foundation from which a particular organization or body is governed. In the U.S. constitution, the bill of rights is contained in the first ten amendments. All the ten amendments are essential as they assure citizens of fundamental rights and civil liberties. More importantly, they define how these liberties concern the government. This paper examines the first, fourth, and sixth amendments, fundamental in the peaceful coexistence between the government and its citizens. Moreover, the amendments have provided a solid foundation through which the government exercises its powers over the citizens without which the state would infringe the people’s fundamental rights and civil liberties.
The First Amendment
The first amendment prohibits the legislature from setting up a religion, barring its free exercise, or restricting the liberty of expression or the media. Additionally, it advocates for the right of citizens to assemble peacefully and request the state for a redress of grievances. The amendment also advocates for citizens to worship anything at any place, provided it is within the jurisdiction of the law (Douma, 2017). Religious liberty safeguards citizens against interference and discrimination against one’s chosen ground of faith. Accordingly, the amendment enables individuals to express their thoughts and beliefs through the media or individually without fear of contradiction or regression, therefore preventing individuals from incitements, genuine threats, intimidation, and harassment. Further, the amendment ensures people assemble harmoniously and advocate for their complaints if their rights, basic needs, or grievances are not met. In the event of assembly, the state is obliged to provide maximum security to the citizens until the end of the assembly unless the above assembly endangers the life of others; to this point, it may be limited (Hudson, 2021). Therefore, this amendment is crucial because it allows people to exercise their religion freely.
The Fourth Amendment
The fourth amendment affirms the right of individuals to be secure in their persons, residential areas. In this context, it prohibits the state from conducting illegal search and confiscation of belongings. According to Douma (2017), the act asserts that law enforcers’ specific type of search is justified by weighing two critical objectives. On one end of the spectrum is the violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights and on the other legitimate state interests such as public safety are on the ascendant. For instance, under no circumstance shall a school head conduct an illegal student’s search unless the search is warranted. The amendment also prohibits unlawful searches and seizures of residences (Douma, 2017). An officer can scrutinize persons suspected of committing crimes without bias, making informed decisions before arresting. The amendment is limited to the point where a citizen is suspected of possessing dangerous items towards the lives of others; therefore, a warrant of the search shall be issued.
The Sixth Amendment
The sixth amendment recognizes the importance of upholding criminals’ rights. The amendment suggests that in all felon proceedings brought by law, the defendant has the privilege to a quick and public court hearing. The hearing consists of an impartial jury drawn from the state or district where the felony occurred, which region is defined by laws, to be informed of the substance or cause of the allegation (Douma, 2017). Moreover, the accused has the right to confront the witness confession; to have the mandatory procedure for acquiring witnesses in his favor; and a right to a lawyer. The amendment ensures that criminals’ privileges are upheld, along with the privilege to an expedited court trial. The suspected victim has the entitlement to an attorney, the right to trial by jury, and the right to verify the identities of complainants, the substance of the prosecutions and proofs against the plaintiff (Hudson, 2021). Precisely, after one is arrested, a speedy trial should be issued in that the defendant must appear before justice and be granted an initial appearance. The judge notifies the defendants of their rights and determines the accused’s financial capability to afford an attorney or the state to appoint one (Douma, 2017). Thus, this amendment ensures that the government does not railroad suspects to prison without a fair trial.
The bill of rights plays a crucial role in the lives of American citizens. As discussed above, the first amendment prohibits Congress from establishing a religion, restricting its free exercise, limiting freedom of expression or the media, or limiting the right to peaceful assembly. It is an essential amendment in that it enables citizens to express their ideas and opinions towards religion without fear of being judged. The Fourth Amendment affirms the privacy and safety of citizens in their homes. Without this amendment, police officers would invade citizens arbitrarily in their residences and make illegal arrests. Lastly, the Sixth Amendment ensures that all individuals are entitled to a speedy trial and provided with a state magistrate if they have no financial capacity to hire one. To this end, the bill of rights protects citizens’ fundamental rights and defines the government’s responsibilities in ensuring that those rights are upheld.
Douma, M. J. (2017). How the first ten amendments became the bill of rights. Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, 15, 593.
Hudson, D. L. (2021). The bill of rights: The first ten amendments of the constitution. Enslow Publishers.