The First and Fifth Amendments

Freedom of Expression |Fair Trial and Punishment| Securities

The First Amendment

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution includes many of the laws in which our nation is built upon: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Assembly, and Freedom of Press. These rights and freedoms have helped shape our country since their passage. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution was ratified on December 15, 1791, after Virginia's passage. Finally, the bill had enough ratifying states to become the law of the land.


The First Amendment has many beneficiaries to include all Americans today. Immigrants, especially those with different religious beliefs, are also protected through this amendment. Their right to practice different religions is specifically protected in this amendment. Other beneficiaries include journalists, protesters, and those who do not agree with different ideas, along with public speakers and oral presenters. These people benefit from this amendment because they can speak freely about what they believe or write different pieces of news that they believe are necessary to be published. These people have their occupations protected and cannot be punished for what they believe in, write, or say.


The First Amendment was added because many citizens believed that they needed to have these basic freedoms protected and ensured with the newly created nation and its constitution. Originally, the Framers believed that the Bill of Rights and these other additional amendments were not needed, but after many years of vigorous debates, the Bill of Rights was adopted on December 15, 1791. The greatest delay in the passage of the Bill of Rights was due to waiting for individual state ratification. It took about four years for the Bill of Rights to be approved and ratified after the original Constitution was created on September 17, 1787. Many Anti-Federalists wanted these protections and were some of the main supporters of the Bill of Rights. Lots of people from this party believed that the Constitution alone would not protect them enough. It was the continuous debates and requests from the Anti-Federalists that allowed the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights to pass.

The Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment protects many different aspects of property and trials. The Fifth Amendment guaranties a fair trial, that a grand jury must be present for capital punishment, a safeguard from "double jeopardy", and protection from having to self-incriminate. In addition, the government cannot seize property without paying market value to its owner. The Fifth Amendment was passed and ratified on December 15, 1791, like the other amendments in the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment is very similar to different clauses in England's Magna Carta such as grand juries being present for capital punishment. In some cases, it is almost seen as a direct copy of the Magna Carta for the concept of a grand jury.


The Fifth Amendment benefits all that are arrested, put on trial, and land owners. First, the amendment allows people to "plead" the right not to answer questions either during testimony at a trial, hearing or during the interview phase by officers, if it is believed that by doing so will self-incriminate. Many people put on trial tend to "Plead the Fifth" in their testimonies, which means that they wish to remain silent. Next, all individuals put on trial benefit from the Fifth Amendment in that they have a right to a fair trial that includes a jury of their peers. In the case of guilt, cruel or unusual punishments will not be imposed for a crime. Finally, landowners are beneficiaries of the Fifth Amendment because the government does not have the right to seize property unless the government pays fair market value for the land. Before the Fifth Amendment, land was taken from citizens without giving any payment.


The Fifth Amendment was added due to many debates which included Anti-Federalist support. The Anti-Federalist party called for the Bill of Rights to be added once the Constitution was ratified to protect different liberties and rights that must be given to the people to protect against an "omnipotent" government that was harsh and unjust. The passage was seen as protecting against past problems and disputes with the government by providing sound processes to include more reasonable solutions.