The Bill of Rights

By: Fatema Dohadwala, 6th block, 12/19/14

What are the Bill of Rights?

The Bill of Rights contains the first 10 changes/amendments of the Constitution that lists all rights that belong to Americans.
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Amendment 1: Freedom of Speech, Press, or Religion

You have the freedom to do, say, write, or express yourself in any way you want. You can choose your own religion and believe in whatever you want, because no one can stop you.


Court Case: Ramos v. Town of Vernon

Summary: In 2003, the town of Vernon, Conneticut declared a curfew to reduce crime for public safety reasons, but it failed to prove that crime had been a problem during those curfew hours. Because of this, it was declared unconstitutional.

Amendment 2: Personal Defense and Right to Bear Arms

You may have to be a soldier in order to protect the country. You have the right to protect or defend yourself in any way you want, including owning a gun.


Court Case: District of Columbia v. Heller

Summary: The Supreme Court decided that people could keep guns for self defense. Many people opposed gun control, so the decision ended on a ban on personal hand guns in the district of Columbia.

Amendment 3: Privacy in Home

No one, including soldiers, can force you into housing them or providing them with food, even if it's during war. The only way this can be changed is if a law says so.


Court Case: Nevada Man

Summary: Henderson claimed that his rights of the third amendment were violated when police demanded to be in his house. It wasn't clear that the police would've been considered "soldiers, so the idea was rejected.

Amendment 4: Unreasonable Search

No one can search through your property or personal stuff, including the police, unless they have a search warrant along with a good reason for why they want to search.


Court Case: Boyd v. United States

Summary: The government thought that Boyd was getting duty-free glass to use for other jobs, so they took him to court. They then asked Boyd to give them invoices for glass that he imported, but realized they were violating his fourth and fifth amendment.

Amendment 5: Due Process of Law

When you are convicted of a serious crime, a grand jury of 12-32 citizens must decide whether or not to charge you. Being charged twice for the same crime is illegal. Nobody can take away your life, freedom, or property without giving a fair trial. The government must pay for your belongings if they take them.


Court Case: Penn Central Transportation Company c. City of New York

Summary: The transportation company wanted to build an office building on top of Grand Central Station. It's construction was blocked because it would have destroyed a historic site. The Supreme Court then riled that the Landmarks Preservation Law did not deprive them of their property.

Amendment 6: Rights of Criminal Defendants

Once in jail, your trial should start as soon as possible. Trials cannot be kept secret, and judges will decide if you are guilty. You have the right to tell your side of the story, and have lawyers and witnesses to back you up.


Court Case: Sheppard v. Maxwell

Summary: Sam Sheppard was put on trial for killing his wife, and was portrayed guilty by the media before his trial was completed. The Supreme Court decided that the case should have been delayed, so that Sheppard wouldn't be judged unfairly.

Amendment 7: The Right to a Jury Trial

You are allowed to have a jury settle cases (not crimes) involving a lot of money, but once a case is decided it can't be brought up in another court.


Court Case: Feltner v. Columbia

Summary: Columbia sued Feltner for broadcasting his programs as a copyright infringement. The District Court denied Feltner's request for a jury trial and awarded Columbia statutory damages following a bench trial. Afterwards, the Court of Appeals held that the seventh amendment did not provide a right to a jury trial on statutory damages.

Amendment 8: Fair Punishment

You must be punished fairly. You shouldn't have to pay unreasonable fines, and the government can't punish you in cruel or unusual ways.


Court Case: Gregg v. Georgia

Summary: Toy Gregg was convicted of murder in Georgia and was sentenced to a death penalty. After reviewing the ruling, the Supreme Court decided that capital punishment was a socially acceptable form of punishment, since all the other states had made so many changes to their laws.

Amendment 9: Rights Retained by the People

There are many other rights that Americans have besides the ones in the Constitution. The government can't take away any rights from people, unless it's stated otherwise as a law.


Court Case: Roe v. Wade

Summary: A pregnant girl wanted abortion of her baby, but it was illegal and unsafe. The Supreme Court argued that Roe's right to make her own decisions about her body and personal life should be guaranteed.

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Amendment 10: Limiting Federal Powers

The states have the power to do anything they'd like, unless the Constitution states otherwise.


Two men passed the Child Labor Act, including Dogenhart who agreed that the government was not empowered to tell people how to rule their businesses because it was unconstitutional. Hammer argued that the Act was necessary to protect the public good. Dogenhart had the majority. This was the Nation's first child labor act was overturned.