Sunday, October 24, 2010

Amendment 10: Powers of the States and People

"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."

The tenth amendment affirms the power to the federal government.  It gives the states the right to decide upon rulings that are not listed in any legislation.

"Health Care Plan Violates 10th Amendment"

This article provides evidence how the health care plan violates the tenth amendment by saying, "Unless the editorial board can point to the specific powers granted to the general government in the Constitution, any health care solutions should rightly come through the states."  It's interesting how this amendment can go in favor of the states when the ninth amendment affirms a similar ruling to the people.

This cartoon shows a child excited to get her license because the tenth amendment says she can.  However, the states say she can not get her license until she reaches a specific age.  Many rulings fall in this gray area because although they are not listed in the Constitution, they are decided upon by the state.

Amendment 9: Construction of Constitution

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

This amendment says that just because certain rights are not specifically mentioned, individuals cannot be denied those rights. 

This news footage is one example of how amendment nine applies.  The health care reform the citizens are protesting does not have a specific law against it; however, that does not deny them the right to surpass the law.  Under the ninth amendment, the people are able to fight for the rights they want.

A Brief Review of the 9th Amendment

This link provides an interesting analysis of the ninth amendment, asserting that the rights are determined by the people rather than the legislators.  The first nine amendments are dedicated to the people and this site reminds us of that.

Amendment 8: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

This amendment refers to the sentencing portion of a trial.  Excessive bail or fines should not inflicted upon a defendant, nor should cruel and unusual punishment.  One important factor is that bail is not a right.  It does not need to be set.

Bail Bonds: How They Are Determined

This article through Ezine discusses how bail amounts are determined.  The point of bail is to ensure the accused will show up for his trial but still granting him the right to conduct his own business in the meantime.  The three factors used to decide bail amounts are the severity of the crime, whether the accused has a criminal history, and whether the accused is a flight risk.
This cartoon is a play on the words "cruel and unusual punishment."  Often times, these punishments are used to pull a confession or answer out of the defendant.  The amendment defines "cruel and unusual punishment" as a sentence that has not been given before.

Amendment 7: Trial by Jury in Civil Cases

"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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law."

The seventh amendment states the the judge has the right to decide upon any law there is debate over in a courtroom.  Also, if the judge thinks the jury has overlooked or has bias against any evidence, he can overturn the verdict they have settled upon.  This amendment has never been incorporated to the states.

This cartoon shows the jury presenting it's full verdict to the judge. The humor lies in their statement because they are not to pass judgment on the lawyers or the judge, just the accused.

This clip from the movie Judgment at Nuremberg shows a judge presenting a verdict and explaining the background. Through the seventh amendment, the judge is granted the authority to do this.

Amendment 6: Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses

"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."

The sixth amendment discusses the right to a speedy trial and regulations in the courtroom.  All trials must take place in public so there are no conspiracies in the background.  Witnesses must also testify in public for the same reason.  The accused must be informed of the case and the nature of the accusation against him.  Juries must be made up of one's peers and must be unbiased.  These rules allow for a fair trial to take place.

This cartoon refers to the portion of the amendment that talks about a speedy trial.  In this image, the accused keeps interjecting with questions, slowing the trial down.  This is not what the amendment means.  A speedy trial means the case is heard at the first available date and not pushed back on the agenda unless there is a legitimate reason. 

The above website explains what a jury is required for and the regulations surrounding the job.  Etiquette and terms often used in trials are well defined.  I think this is a good website because it offers those performing jury duty a strong background on rules they should be aware of.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Amendment 5: Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings

"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 offense 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."

This amendment discusses trial and punishment.  It defines the qualifications for a grand jury and that an individual is not required to answer any questions without the grand jury being present.  The fifth amendment also guarantees double jeopardy so that the same case will not be tried twice.

This clip highlights "innocent until proven guilty." This is a motto our courts should abide by but unfortunately, our own judgments often get in the way of us giving each individual a fair chance.

This picture illustrates a portion of the fifth amendment.  When arrested, a police officer is required to read the arrested his or her Miranda rights.  These rights include the right to remain silent until the offender is in the presence of a jury and a judge.

Amendment 4: Search and Seizure

"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."

This parody by the Onion News mocks amendment four, asking if the government is spying on schizophrenics. One symptom of schizophrenia is feeling as if one is being constantly watched. With schizophrenics feeling as if the government is always watching them, viewers question, is the government always watching everyone? Since the Patriot Act, the government has been able to tap into personal conversations online and on the phone to protect the nation's security. One big question was figuring out where to draw the line at the invasion of privacy. Amendment four helps answer this question by asserting any search or seizures need to be based on probable cause.

This humorous cartoon shows two police officers breaking into a room where privacy rights are stored.  Despite being required to have a search warrant, the officer's notice says they can go forth with their investigation without the proper authorizations.  Today, this kind of behavior in the real world, if without probable cause, would disqualify any evidence found in the quarters being searched if a warrant was not approved beforehand.      

Amendment 3: 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."

This amendment prohibits individuals from being forced to take in soldiers.  If for some reason, soldiers do need places to stay, new laws would have to be enacted or it would be done on a voluntary basis.

"Third Amendment Rights Group Celebrates Another Successful Year"

This news article by the Onion News provides a humorous insight on the third amendment.  It talks about coalitions created to discover if any illegal bordering of soldiers is happening around the nation.  The article also discusses how pro-quartering groups are waiting to find a loophole to force soldiers into homes.  I think this is an amendment that is not subject to much controversy, making the article funny since it exaggerates any present debate on the amendment.

This cartoon depicts how intrusive a soldier can be if a family is forced to take one in.  If families are not willing to quarter soldiers, they should not be forced to because inviting someone into one's house is a very personal and private affair.

Amendment 2: 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."

This amendment says in order for the state to be secure, there needs to be an army in place.  This allows the nation to be protected in the case of a disaster.  It also states the people have a right to use and purchase guns on their own.
The above clip from ABC Nightline raises the question of whether or not we need stricter gun control laws. Although it seems harsher gun control laws would lower shooting rates, that is not true. The example used here was the shooting at Fort Hood: a shooter killed 13 people on a base where guns are illegal. Gun control laws would make me feel safer because it would be harder for people to attain guns. However, since there is no correlation between gun control laws and shooting rates, my sense of security is not fully justified.

This cartoon makes fun of how some people do not acknowledge an entire law.  In regards to the second amendment, many people are unaware the militia portion even exists because they only pay attention to their right to bear arms.  To work together effectively, entire laws need to be understood and followed.  If there is a dispute with a portion of a law, the entire law needs to be re-worded or redone to appease the people.

Amendment 1: Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

"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."

This amendment states that the right to freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly is open to all. The government cannot prohibit someone from these actions because it would be infringing upon their Constitutional rights.

This image describes the first amendment well because it says the first amendment is open to everyone.  No one in the nation is excluded from being able to have freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - It's a Small-Minded World
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive
This segment from the Colbert Report pokes fun at closed-minded individuals.  The host uses the example of a Muslim girl being told to modify her religious head cover because of her job to show that some people do not accept other beliefs.  While humorous, the excerpt demonstrates how small minded individuals can be.  This applies to the first amendment because freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.