Bill of Rights
(In plain English)
The federal government cannot make any laws that limit anyone's right to choose whatever religion they wish to practice. The United States Congress cannot pass laws that limit how any person shall practice their chosen religion. The federal government cannot pass any laws that restrict anyone's ability to express their own views about the world in their own way. The U. S. Congress cannot pass any laws that limit the ability of the press to investigate or publish information. The government cannot stop people from getting together to discuss issues or plan what they want to do about an issue. The people of the United States have the right to ask the government to correct any conditions that they feel should be corrected.
The people of the United States have the right to own weapons because they may be called upon to defend their freedom and their country.
In times of peace, soldiers cannot live in ordinary people's homes unless the owner agrees. Even in times of war, the government can only force a landlord to house a soldier in accordance with the law.
The U. S. government cannot seize anyone's property, cannot search or arrest any person without a court's permission. The government must prove to a court that there is a legal reason to search someone's home, take their things or their papers, or search them in any way.
Except for members of the armed forces, a grand jury is the only way that a person can be charged with a serious crime. People cannot be tried twice for the same crime (there cannot be any 'double jeopardy'). People cannot be forced to testify against themselves by any means including torture. The federal government must follow the law (follow 'due process') when dealing with an individual's life, liberty or property. All U.S. citizens have the right to a fair trial. The government cannot take property from any citizens without properly compensating them (e.g., paying them) for it.
Whenever the government accuses a citizen of a crime, there must be a speedy trial with an unbiased jury. People must be told all about ('be completely informed about') the charges against them. People have the right to question those who accuse them of a crime and can call witnesses in their defense. All citizens have a right to legal representation (a lawyer).
In any situation involving more than $20.00, every citizen has the right to a trial by jury.
People cannot be held in jail without a reasonable opportunity to bail themselves out. Fines for crimes cannot be too high and must reflect the damage. The government cannot punish people in a cruel or unusual way. All punishments must be appropriate to the crimes.
Just because the Constitution lists these specific rights, it doesn't mean that people don't have additional rights not listed.
Any powers ('abilities') not prohibited or listed in the U. S. Constitution belong to the individual States or to the people to determine.
Copyright: 2004 English 4 All, Inc.