What are the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment?
The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land. As written by the founding fathers in 1789, it lays out the structure, powers and limitations of the federal government, as well as rules about the relationship of states to the federal government, called Federalism.
The founders knew that society would evolve and the Constitution makes allowances for amendments. To date, Congress and the states have amended it twenty-seven times.
The first ten amendments were proposed by Congress in 1789 and ratified in 1791. As opposed to creating government structures and rules, they create prohibitions against the government limiting citizens' rights. Together, these ten amendments are known as The Bill of Rights.
The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, is one of the Reconstruction Amendments added to the Constitution after the American Civil War (1861-1865). It was drafted in response to issues arising from the freedom of slaves. Section 1 addresses citizenship, due process and equal protection under the law. It requires that, to remain in the Union, state officials follow the rules established in the amendment.
The Fourteenth Amendment
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
How do the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment Help You?
All citizens have in common these rights wherever in the country they reside or travel; there are no classes or castes of citizens. When government employees in federal or state governments violate these rights, the offending government entity can be held accountable under the Constitution. Local governments and corporations, on the other hand cannot be held accountable under the constitution but must be sued on statutes and codes, which we discuss in other tabs of the legal section.
The Bill of Rights
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment 2- The Right to Bear Arms A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
Amendment 3 - The Housing of Soldiers No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment 4- Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment 5- Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation. Amendment 6- Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
Amendment 7 - Rights in Civil Cases In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment 8 - Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment 9 - Other Rights Kept by the People The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment 10 - Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Disclaimer: Targeted America is not a law firm. The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter.
This website is best viewed on a computer or laptop.