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The Bill of Rights: Amendments 1-10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER TO OTHER EDUCATORS:  All clip art as well as information on this page was painstakingly researched and written by me over hundreds of hours.    If you are an educator and wish to use this information for your page, please contact me via email at mcfoster@polk.k12.ga.us.  (Original texts owned by the author and protected under Title 17, U.S.C.)

The Bill of Rights: Amendments 1-10

 

 

THE FIRST AMENDMENT: Expression
You have the freedom to express yourself.
The specific freedoms of expression are:
Religion, Speech, the Press, Assembly, and Petition.

Religion:  You can go to whatever church you want, or you can choose not to go to any church.  The government cannot have any power in churches, nor can churches have power in the government.
    (Example: Juan goes to a Catholic church, while his friend Brian goes to a Methodist church.  Brian's neighbor John once went to a Baptist church, but now he doesn't go to church at all.  The President, meanwhile, goes to an Episcopal church.  All of this is okay; each of these people have the freedom to choose.)

Speech: You can express how you feel by having your voice heard.  If you don't like what the government is doing, you have the freedom to express that without the fear or threat of being thrown in jail.
    (Example: John didn't vote for the President, and he is unhappy with how the President has been doing.  He tells his friend Brian; Brian, however, voted for the President, and thinks the President has been doing a good job.  Brian and John disagree, but both are expressing how they feel using their freedom of speech.)

The Press:  You can express how you feel by writing books or newspaper articles without fear being thrown in jail.
    (Example: Brian writes a letter to the newspaper taking-up for the President.  John writes a letter also, but is very critical of the President.  Both letters are okay, even if the President gets mad at John for his letter, because both are using their freedom of expression in their writings.Also, the news company can report on things without fear of the government shutting them down, because freedom of the press protects the news companies as well.)

Assembly:  You can assemble, as long as its peaceful, with whomever you choose.
    (Example: Brian, John, and their friends decide to start a club.   Another example:  John decides to protest the President's policies in front of the White House.  He holds signs that demand the President to change his policies.)

Petition: You have the right to ask your government to change laws, or make new laws, without fear.
    (Example: John sends a letter to the President asking him to change his policies.  Although you may think this counts as Freedom of the Press, the difference is that John has written a letter to an elected politician, not for it to be published in a newspaper.)

 

 



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THE 2ND AMENDMENT: Right to Bear Arms
You have the right to bear arms (the right to own guns for your protection).
(During the Revolution, British soldiers often took away colonists' guns.)

That doesn't mean you can just shoot guns at people, or anywhere at any time.  It means you can use them to defend yourself.


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THE 3RD AMENDMENT: No Quartering
You can't be forced to quarter (give up your home) to soldiers in times of peace.

(During the Revolution, British soldiers often took over people's homes.)

 


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THE 4TH AMENDMENT: No Unreasonable Searches/Seizures
The police cannot search you or your property, nor seize (take) things from you, without either your permission or a warrant.

 



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THE 5TH AMENDMENT: Due Process, and the Right to Refuse to Answer
If you find yourself in court, you have the right to stay silent ("Plead the Fifth") if you are asked any questions that may, if answered by you, make you look like a criminal.
You also cannot be tried twice for the same crime if you are found "not guilty."

 This amendment is where you first see DUE PROCESS, which is means "fairness in our laws."  In due process, it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, famous or unknown, the courts must treat everyone equally.

 



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THE SIXTH AMENDMENT: Speedy Criminal Trial
You have the right to a speedy trial in a criminal case.

The British government was bad about locking-up people in jail for long amounts of time, without trying to give them a trial.  Because of our 6th Amendment, if you get arrested, you can't sit in jail waiting on a trial for a long time.  



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THE 7TH AMENDMENT: Civil Cases
You have the right to have a jury trial if you are sued (a civil trial).

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THE 8TH AMENDMENT: No Cruel & Unusual Punishments
If you are found guilty of a crime, the government cannot punish you cruelly, nor unusually, nor can it force you to pay an unreasonably high fine (money) as punishment.

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THE 9TH AMENDMENT: Rights Not Listed Still Exist
You have other rights that aren't necessarily listed (written) in the Constitution and Bill of Rights; but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

 

Think of how long the Constitution would have been if every single right was listed; they would have had to include your right to breathe, sleep, eat, blink...It would have been ridiculous!  So the 9th Amendment lets the people know that they can relax, because they have hundreds of other rights that aren't listed, but still are there.
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THE 10TH AMENDMENT: Powers Reserved to the States & People
The Constitution gives the federal government the power to do lots of things; but many things, such as the power to create and run schools, create new cities, and make highways belong to the states, and the people living in those states.

 

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