Lesson 5: Amendments to the U.S. Constitution 
    Amendments 1-10, The Bill of Rights 
    Amendments 11 - 27 

Amendments 1-10,  The Bill of Rights 

     In 1787, many  people were unhappy with the Constitution.  They felt it did not guarantee individual freedoms and rights. The writers of the Constitution believed in personal freedom and liberties. They just didn't think the Constitution needed to spell them out.  But when several states refused to ratify the Constitution, the writers promised to add a list of those rights.  

     The Constitution was ratified in 1788, and as the Constitution directed, a president and Congress were elected.     On September 25, 1789, the first Congress  proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution.  Ten of these 12 proposed amendments were approved by three fourths of the state legislatures and became what is known as  the "Bill of Rights."    The Bill of Rights did not change the constitution in any way, but it did make clear what rights the government must protect. 

Amendments I-X (1-10)
The Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791

 I (1)

Article 1 guarantees or protects five freedoms:
  • freedom of religion--people can practice any religion they want and Congress cannot establish a religion for the country
  • freedom of speech
  • freedom of the press
  • the right to assemble peacefully
  • the right to petition the government

II (2)

The right to bear arms.
The federal government cannot take away the right of people to have guns.

III (3)

Housing of soldiers
People cannot be forced to feed  and shelter soldiers in their homes

IV (4)

Search and seizure
People must be safe from police searches and arrests in their homes. To search a home, to arrest someone, or to remove evidence, a court order or warrant must be issued by a judge.  A judge can only issue a warrant with good reason.  Evidence that is seized (taken) in violation of this amendment cannot be used in court.

V (5)

Rights in criminal cases
People accused of  serious crimes must first be indicted by a grand jury before being tried..
People cannot be forced to testify against themselves.  
Once declared not guilty, a person cannot be tried again for the same crime (double jeopardy).
Accused people have the right to due process; they must receive fair treatment according to the law.  

VI (6)

Right to a fair trial
People accused of a crime 
  • must be told what crimes they have been charged with
  • have the right to a speedy and public trial
  • have the right to a lawyer
  • have the right to question witnesses

VII (7)

Rights in civil cases
People have the right to a jury trial in civil cases in federal courts.  Civil cases are about non-criminal problems, for example a divorce, damages in a car crash, or somebody suing somebody else. 

VIII (8)

Bail, Fines and punishment
A person found guilty can  not receive cruel or unusual punishment.
Excessive bail and excessive fines cannot be charged 

IX (9)

Other rights not mentioned
People have many other rights that are not listed in the Constitution.  Even if not listed, people still have these rights.  

X (10)

Powers reserved to the states
Powers not given to the federal government and not kept from the states belong to the state governments and to the people.  

Amendments XI-XXVII  (11 through 27)

XI (11)

Lawsuits against states
A state cannot be sued by a citizen from a different state or a foreign country. 

 XII (2)

Presidential elections
This amendment made rules for the electoral college and explained how the president and vice president were to be elected.   

 XIII (13)

End of slavery
This amendment ended slavery in the United States.  Slavery was no longer legal in the U.S. or any land that belonged to the U.S.   

XIV (14)

Due process and rights of citizens
All persons born in the U.S. are citizens. This amendment gave citizenship to African Americans and native Americans.  The rights of citizens cannot be taken away by states.   States must give all citizens equal protection under the law and due process. 

 XV (15)

Right of blacks to vote 
People (men) have the right to vote no matter what race or color.  This amendment gave former slaves the right to vote.  Women did not yet have the right to vote. 

XVI (16)

Income tax
Congress can collect taxes on income .  

XVII (17)

Election of senators
This amendment changed the way senators were elected.  It said that people of the state would vote directly for senators.  

XVIII (18)

Prohibition of liquor
This amendment made all alcoholic drinks illegal and the  selling, making, importing, and exporting of liquor illegal.    (This amendment was repealed by Amendment 21.)

 XIX (19)

Right of women to vote
Women have the right to vote.

XX (20)

Beginning and ending dates for elected officials
The terms of the president and vice president end on January 20.  The terms of Congress end at noon on January 3.  The new Congress meets on January 3 at noon.    

XX1 (21)

Repeal of Prohibition
Amendment 18 was repealed.  Alcoholic drinks were no longer illegal.  

XX11 (22)

President limited to two terms
No one can be elected to be president more than twice.  

XX111 (23)

Voting in Washington, D. C. 
People living in Washington, D.C. can vote for the president and vice president. Washington D.C. can have electoral college votes.  

XXIV (24)

End to poll taxes
People cannot be charged a poll tax or any other tax to vote.  

XXV (25)

Presidential succession
If the president dies, the vice president becomes president.  If the office of  vice president becomes empty, the president nominates someone to become vice president.  That person must then be approved by a majority of both houses of Congress.  

XXVI (26)

Voting at age 18
The voting age for all elections was lowered from 21 to 18.

XXVII (27)

Congressional pay
Salary increases for members of Congress cannot go into effect until after the next congressional election.

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