How does the Constitution protect liberty?
"Liberty" is defined as "the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life." The Constitution includes various protections of individual rights for the citizens of the United States. Many of these safeguards of liberty are grouped in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Some of the most important points included are:
The First Amendment prohibits the government from creating or requiring a national religion, guarantees freedom of speech and of the press, and guarantees citizens the right to peacefully gather together in order to request that the government change aspects with which they have disagreements.
The Second Amendment protects the "right of the people to keep and bear arms." Because of changes in society since the Bill of Rights was written, the interpretation of exactly what this amendment means in today's society is hotly debated.
The Fourth Amendment guarantees that individuals and their property may not be subjected to search and seizure actions without properly issued warrants based on reasonable cause for the search.
The Fifth Amendment states that persons are entitled to "due process of law," which includes being told what the charges are against them, not being forced to testify against themselves, and not being tried twice for the same crime.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees a citizen's "right to a speedy and public trial" in front of an "impartial jury" with legal counsel and the right to question witnesses testifying against the citizen.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits "excessive bail," "excessive fines," and "cruel and unusual punishment."
The Ninth Amendment states that citizens retain other rights that are not specifically named in the Constitution.