225 years ago today, December 15, 1791 the first 10 amendments to the Constitution were ratified. The big debate was why these protections weren’t put into the main body of the document in the first place. If they’d known that we could elect a Trump they sure as shit would have. The amendments are presented here as ratified, with annotations by a wise patriot.
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. All good, good work guys. Have an ale on me!
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. Ugh, really murky,. Will they even know what a militia is 100 years from now? Wouldn’t want to give idiots the right to carry muskets into Public Ale Houses through misinterpretation. Work on it.
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. I know this is important to me in 1789. They’ll thank us for it in 2089.
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. Yeah, but now that we’re running things, we should leave ourselves some wiggle room, no? Tee hee!! Just kidding. But really! Do you trust the Masons? I don’t.
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 offence 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. Think you buried the lead with the can’t be compelled to testify against oneself. Those sneaky Masons will probably abuse this, but I get it.
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 defence. Are we bending over backwards to be fair? Sure the King was a dick, but do we have to be that country that can be walked all over on because he was such a bad boyfriend, ya know what I mean? Think about it.
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. Okay, see where you’re going here Madison but can’t you just say we guaranty a trial by jury in civil cases? And they call Jefferson wordy.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. Speaking of cruel and unusual have you tasted Martha Washington’s cooking? I kid. Actually, good stuff. I mean the amendment, not her cooking, seriously she’s heavy handed with the salt. It’s a soup not the Dead Sea Martha! C’mon Man!
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. So we have rights not listed here or in the Constitution, too many to list here. Why? I have time. Ink is cheap. How about the right to good mutton? I’m not saying it’s free speech, but good mutton? Nothing better! Bad mutton, nothing worse. Am I righteous?
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. Wha? So if there’s a power we didn’t specifically grab we’re leaving it to South Carolina? Seriously? Not cool!