What does the Bill of Rights consist of?
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The Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. These amendments were introduced as a way to placate people (most of them antifederalists) who were afraid that the US government would trample on their rights.
The Bill of Rights generally protects two major kinds of rights. First, it protects political rights. This is seen largely in the First Amendment which guarantees the right to freedom of speech, assembly and the press. These guarantees ensure that people will be able to speak their minds about the government, a right which is essential for democracy.
Second, the Bill of Rights protects what we might call personal liberties. The First Amendment protects our right to believe and worship as we wish. The Fourth Amendment protects our right to not have the government intrude on our homes or persons without good reason. The Fifth Amendment ensures that our property will not be taken away without due process of law. These are things that are very important but are not political.
Between them, these amendments defend our right to participate politically and to generally be free from unwarranted government intrusion in our lives.
The Bill of Rights
I - Religion, Speech, Assembly, and Politics
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.
II - Militia and 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.
III - Quartering 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.
IV - 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.
These amendments play a key role in the law and government policies and are symbolic of freedoms and US culture and etch the importance of the Bill of Rights in the American psyche. The fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights are national property of much importance and one is on display at the National Archives, Washington D.C. The Bill of Rights was designed to guard US citizens against the abuse of basic rights granted by the Constitution. The concept of 'natural rights' inherent to all citizens was highlighted in the final draft. Rights such as that of life, liberty, property possession etc. were incorporated with the intent of empowering people's intervention in the democracy, while checking on powers of the government.
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