What do the 5th and 9th Amendments say about their authors' attitudes towards centralized government?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Both of these amendments highlight the need for the Anti- Federalist contingent at the Constitutional Convention to have their voices heard.  The notion of preventing the right to self- incrimination helps to create a barrier between federal government and the entitlements of the accused.  This helps to solidify the notion that there is a particular sphere of influence in which government cannot intrude.  This same distrust of authority is seen in the 9th Amendment in which the idea of rights that are not explicitly addressed are still implied within the spirit of the Constitution reflects the idea that there are still elements which can be present in the Constitution that might not specifically be stated in it.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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You have to remember that the colonists had suffered for decades under a British rule that specifically and repeatedly denied them legal rights such as due process.  They had lived under a King and Parliament who largely assumed that any freedom not expressly given did not exist.

Added to the 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th amendments, we can clearly see a pattern of mistrust of that centralized government - half the Bill of Rights is detailing individual citizens' protections from that government.

In the 9th amendment, the authors also realized the differences between the regions and colonies, and wanted the added protection that allowed for individual and regional differences to be a part of the Constitution.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Fifth and Ninth Amendments to the Constitution (and really the whole Bill of Rights) show that the people who wrote them distrusted centralized government.

This makes sense, because the Antifederalists forced the inclusion of the Bill of Rights and they were afraid of the power of the central government.

The major provision of the Fifth Amendment is that no one may be punished without having gone through the "due process of law."  This shows that the writers were afraid the central government would just throw people in jail or take their property without giving them a trial.

The Ninth Amendment says that the people have rights other than the ones listed in the Constitution.  This shows the writers were afraid that the central government would try to take away people's rights if they weren't specifically protected.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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The whole of the Bill of Rights were included into the founding document to restrict government.  After the disaster of attempting to govern the newly-emancipated states through the Articles of Confederation, The Constitutional Convention created a new structure for a Federal government that had a bit more authority. Wisely, the the delegates did not react to the failure of the Articles by creating a repressive central government; the lessons won from the Revolution and their interactions mid-century with an unresponsive Parliament, which represented the national government of England, convinced them of the tyranny that can result when most of the political power is concentrated in one individual or one governing body.  A central government cannot restrict Rights. To be sure that that never happened in the new United States, the Bill of Rights amended the Constitution.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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When the Fifth Admendment was created the authors were aware of past instances in which people ahd to make incriminating statemnts about themselves in courts of law.  They were aware that a person's testimony against himself could be set-up to be used as entrapment.  Confessions under the King's law could be drawn out by means of torture.  It was te author's intenet ot limit the power of the jury and judge so that no man would be forced to make a testimony against himself nor be tortured in order to get a confession.

The Fifth Admendment also addressed the issue of being tried for a crime more than once unless legal errors have been committed.  They realized that the government could continue to hant a person and cause the person repeated expences for tirals unless this was put into place.

The right to a fair trial was very important to all involved.  Under the King's rule, people had been subject to punishmet without fair trial.  The authors wanted to protect innocent men from being punished for things they had not done.  In addition, in the past punishments often were extravagant and did not fit the crime.  They ahd hoped by putting a fair trial into place, they would be able to prevent these actions in the future.

The 9th Amendment is often called "The Mysterious Admendment."  The authors realized there were some needs that did not fall under other catagories.  Human Rights had not been addressed and they ahd an awareness that these rights also needed to be addressed.  They developed the Ninth Admendment in order o protect the rights that ahd not been addressed in the other eight Admendments. 

The authors were also thinking that somewhere down he line other rights would need to be addressed and the Nineth Admendment was set up so that it could allow future generations to add those rights.  (For example: The right to life).  The Ninth Admendment actually was not addressed much for many years until the 1960's.  They were then brought into the spotlight by the case of Grisworld versus Connecticut.  A woman had been tried under a law that had dated back to 1879 when birth control was not allowed. The ninth admendment allowed for the laws o be changed if they were considered to be outdated and unfair.

The colonists were very untrusting of government and wanted to limit the power of the government plaicng it in the hands of the people.  However, they rcognized there was a need for some organization to the process.  In addition, they were also aware that times would being forth chages that they had yet to imagine.  They wanted to leave a way for changes to occur as needed to continue to protect the rights of the citizens.

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