Amendments 1 and 8

By: Sydney Popkin

Bill of Rights- Amendment 1

My Perspective/Opinion/explanation

Amendment 1 states many different things about freedom,religion,press,etc. I am going to explain what I think in my perspective what this Amendment means.

1. Freedom of Religion- Congress is not aloud to make a law respecting the action of an establishment of a religion. I think everyone should respect every religion no matter what it is!

2. Freedom of Speech- Congress is also not aloud to make a law about people speaking their own minds (also known as free exercise). People are aloud to have freedom of speech and congress can not make a law that people do not have the right to do that. People want the freedom to speak their own minds and I agree with that.

3. Freedom of Press- Congress is also not aloud to abridge the press. I think people want freedom of the press and I agree with this amendment.

4. Freedom to Assemble-Congress is not aloud to make a law for the people to get together/assemble without arguing to have a written request for the government. People should have the right to assemble without government making a rule about them not having that right.

5. Right to Petition- Congress shall not make a law for the right of the people to assemble to have a petition for an unfair situation, complaint or protest for the government. I think that people should be able to petition the government. They need to speak their mind and let the government know how they feel so therefore, the government can make changes.

Reason Why

Reason why they included the Amendments in our constitution:

The first amendment was created to protect the freedoms of the American people. It was written because some of the people who came to America left Europe to try to find these freedoms; protecting them in the Constitution means that these rights cannot be taken away.

Historical Background

Historical background some reasons why they put the first amendment in the Bill of Rights:

    The first amendment was ratified in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. It is now virtually forgotten for its twelve years. This country was ruled by a Congress of the States, an arrangement that was formalized by the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781. Federalists said that they need a stronger national government so they arranged for a convention to amend the Articles of Confederation. When they presented the new constitution to the public, however, in 1787, the document engendered great opposition from what we now call the anti-federalists. The anti-federalists said that the constitution lacked sufficient guarantees of individual rights. Big conflict happened between anti-federalists and the federalists. They had many conventions to fix this conflict. In that time Alexander Hamilton argued that the Bill of Rights was not needed since the Constitution did not give the government the power to violate individual rights. This argument was rejected by the anti-federalists and the Bill of Rights became the price the Federalists had to pay to get the strong central government they wanted. The Bill of Rights is best understood as the enactment of a philosophy of individual natural rights that dominated American political thought in the Eighteenth Century. There is much more to the history of the amendments to be said but that is only some.

Freedom of Speech- The writers of the Bill of Rights did not want the government to have censorship powers over citizens, so we have the right to say what we think. Someone can criticize the government and nothing will happen to you. In some countries people are killed for criticizing their government. However, there are limits on what kinds of things a person can say in public. That is why the government can limit what is on television and radio.

Freedom of Religion- Many individuals declared religious liberty at the time. In another period of time it was brought up again and Thomas Aquinas expressed his feelings about religious freedom. Many people had there opinions and some agreed and others didn't. The ratification was in 1791 when they approved Freedom of Religion. The elements of the European movements carried over into the United States, and included toleration of religious beliefs and practices of others.

Freedom of Press-The founders saw the value of the freedom of the press. The search continued to find what the founders meant as a rule of the law. Free debate's were held. It was then ratified in the constitution.

Freedom to Assemble- In 1776, Pennsylvania's declaration of rights guaranteed to peaceably assemble. They were the first state to recognize this right. Later declarations of rights gave citizens of other states the right to peacefully assemble. The house and the Senate approved of the amendment and it was ratified in 1791.

Right to Petition- The actual concept to have the right to petition the government goes far back into the Magna Carta. Later, the right to petition was further confirmed in the English Declaration of Rights. The framers of the U.S constitution added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. James Madison composed the first amendment, which contains that we have the right to petition the government.

Media Usage

Current Use

Freedom of Speech- A high school student created a group of a teacher on facebook. This group was created so you can express your opinions about the hatred on this teacher. The student was published off-campus. This is an example of freedom of speech. In some cases, I think people should have a right to express their opinions but in cases like this at the same time I don't think people should have the right to express their opinion.

Freedom of Religion- Students from minority religions are particularly vulnerable. No one would feel more embarrassed and isolated than a Jewish or Muslim child forced to participate in or remove himself from Christian-oriented activities. At the same time, students from majority groups may end up finding their own manner of worship dictated by school teachers. Neither result is good for religious or personal freedom. I don't think this is right, I think people should respect every religion and treat everyone the same.

Freedom of the press- Millions of Britons were justifiably outraged over last year's serial revelations of illegal and unethical behavior by the powerful and influential tabloid press in Britain. This seemed dangerous to Britain's centuries-old traditions of a press free from government regulation. I think we need freedom of the press and this is not right.

Freedom to assemble- De Jonge was convicted for conducting a public meeting. De Jonge was not planed to do any illegal activity. The U.S Supreme Court reversed his conviction as unnecessarily restrictive of his freedom of speech and right of peaceable assembly. They recognized the freedom to assemble and put these rights on equal footing. This happened in 1937. I don't know why De Jonge planed public meeting but I think he has the full right to do that and I don't agree with the Supreme Court.

Right to petition- In 1983, the Court tried to isolate the U.S. Supreme Court to influence them on a particular issue on the court steps. But the high court held that the acts of distributing a printed sheet of paper and carrying picket signs on the public sidewalk around the building were protected by the first amendment. I think this was good that the court realized that the Supreme Court is allowed to have the right to petition.

Amendment 8

Bill of Rights Song

Bill of Rights song

All amendments included.


My perspective/Opinion/explanation

Amendment 8 states many things such as; excessive bail, excessive fines, and unusual punishment. I am going to state in my own opinion what I think this amendment means.

Excessive Bail- Excessive bail shall not be required means, that if you are placed under the temporary release for an accused person, the bail has to be reasonable and fair according to the crime. This is what i think excessive bail means in amendment 8.

Excessive Fines- I think that Excessive fines means if you commit a crime you should not be exposed to a massive amount of money to pay to the government. I agree with this amendment.

Cruel or Unusual Punishment- no cruel or unusual punishment inflicted means, that if you have committed a crime the state cannot perform unusual punishments. I agree with no cruel or unusual punishment. But, i think that if you perform a really bad act of crime than there should be cruel punishments to the person who committed the crime.

Reason Why

Amendment 8 was made because of how cruel the British were to the colonists. Also, parliament declared that excessive bail should not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments.

Historical Background

Historical background some reasons why they put this amendment in the Bill of Rights:

The 8th amendment was part of the Bill of Rights in 1791. Parliament declared excessive bail should not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment. The provision was largely inspired by the case in England of Titus Oates. who, after the act of rising to a more powerful position of King James II, was tried for multiple acts of perjury which had caused many executions of people whom Oates had wrongly accused. Oates was sentenced to imprison. The Oates case eventually became a topic of the U.S. supreme court's eight amendment theory of law. The punishment of Oats involved ordinary penalties and excessive manner. The reason Oates did not receive the death penalty was because such punishment would have deterred even honest witnesses from testifying later cases. England's declaration against cruel and unusual punishments was approved by parliament in February 1689. Members of the parliament then explained that "the commons had a particular regard...when that declaration was first made" to punishments like the one that had been inflicted by the King's Bench against Titus Oates. In England, the cruel and unusual punishments clause was a limitation on the discretion of judges, and required judges to adhere to an earlier event. Virginia adopted this provision and the Virginia convention that ratified the U.S constitution recommended in 1788 that this language also be included in the constitution. Henry and Mason had there own opinions and later on showed their opinions were more powerful than the others and the 8th amendment was adopted. James Madison proposed the amendment.

A little bit of history about each clause in amendment 8:

Excessive Bail: In England, this clause has not been a thought to accord a right to bail in all cases. Only to provide that bail should not be excessive in those cases where it is proper to grant bail. When this process was carried over into the Bill of Rights, there was nothing said that indicated any different concept. These two contrasting views of excessive bail provision, uttered by the court in the same term, reflect inexactness in meaning of language inherent in the phrase and the absence of evidence regarding the intent of those who drafted and who ratified the 8th amendment.

Excessive Fines: For years the Supreme Court had said little about excessive fines. The 8th amendment itself clearly was adopted with the particular intent of placing limits on the powers of the new government. Therefore, while leaving open the issues of whether the Clause has any applicability to civil penalties of to actions, the Court determined that excessive fines clause was intended to limit only those fines directly imposed by, and payable to, the government.

Cruel or Unusual Punishment: The histories of the prohibitions of cruel or unusual punishments found in the Bill or RIghts has never been adequately investigated. Judges and scholars have accepted the conclusions of the American framers that the clause was originally designed to prohibit barbarous methods of punishment that was not needed.

Media Usage

Current Use

Excessive Bail- In england, sheriffs originally determined whether to grant bail to criminal suspects. Since they tended to abuse their power. Parliament passed a statute in 1275 whereby bailable and non-bailable offenses were defined. The king's judges often subverted the provisions of the law. IT was held that an individual may be held without bail upon the Sovereign's command. Eventually, the Petition of Right of 1628 argued that the King did not have such authority. Later, technicalities in the law were exploited to keep the accused imprisoned without bail even where the offenses were bailable.

Excessive Fines-The Supreme Court that is was unconstitutional to take $357,144 from a person who failed to report his taking of more than $10,000 in U.S. currency out of the United States. In what was the first case in which the Supreme Court ruled a fine to violate the Excessive Fines Clause. I don't think that the Supreme Court should give this person that much excessive fines. I think a little lower would be okay.

Unusual or Cruel Punishment- Seven years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that offenders younger than 18 couldn't be sentenced to death, arguing that juveniles are generally less culpable than adults because they are less mature, more impulsive and more susceptible to peer pressure. By the same unassailable logic, the court should hold that sentencing young murderers to life without parole is cruel and unusual punishment. Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson were both 14 when they committed their crimes. Miller and a 16-year-old friend beat a neighbor and set fire to his house in Alabama, leading to the neighbor's death by smoke inhalation. I think that cruel and unusual punishment is not okay but having two 16-year-olds kill a neighbor is not okay! I think that cruel or unusual punishment should be aloud for certain crimes.