American history shows that people are unique and live together by the rule of law. As historical facts suggest, America's success as a democracy is due to its successful implementation of the rule of law. The rule of law is put into place as 'The US Constitution Bill' by the Founding Fathers of America. After the signing of 'The US Constitution' in 1787, the original law comprised of seven articles. Finally, a collection of ten amendments was made to 'The US Constitution' and signed in 1789 by our Founding Fathers who are known as 'Bill of Rights'. In this paper, we would have a detailed analysis of these amendments and further discuss about any additional amendments should have been included as well as a possibility of whether there should have been an additional book of law been added highlighting the responsibilities of people as 'Bill of Responsibilities'.
Self-interpretation of each amendment
The first amendment focuses on three major areas. They are freedom of religion, freedom of expression and rights to assemble and petition. These are the basic rights given to the people. Hence it forbids the government by passing any law to that would affect these three major rights. The amendment makes it very clear that every individual has the right to exercise their own religious practices thus there cannot be any law that encourages or restricts people to follow one particular religion and its practices. Freedom of speech allows people and press to practice free speech where no law can restrict their right of speech in any forms. The right to assemble and petition the Government gives people the freedom of choice to assemble peacefully in public to express their grievances and also write petitions to the Government in that regard. It doesn't mean or shouldn't be taken the other way around that the amendment doesn't allow that there should not be anything like religious conversion on own will or regulation of press or restriction in case of unnecessary assembly or inappropriate petitions but gives the additional assurance for people to practice their rights. The second amendment gives the right to have arms. It specifies the need for a well-organized militia is required for a free state thus people have the right to secure arms for their self-defense and free way of life which will not be curtailed by any law. It doesn't mean anybody can form a gang and bear arms without permission and do an act of 'robin hood' by terrorizing others with this basic right as every move will be monitored and done through law. The third amendment says about quartering of armed forces. It shows that the armed soldiers cannot go ahead through a forcible entry in any civilian's home without their consent during peacetime. However, during wartime, the entry needs to be based on the prescription of law. This amendment is a reassurance that every home remains safe and secured through the control of their owners, and no force can budge them in this regard. It doesn't mean that the amendment portrays soldiers as 'unwelcome guest' but to reaffirm that civilian rights are safeguarded in every aspect. The search and arrest warrants are the probably the main focus area in the fourth amendment. Every person has the right to remain secure, unless there is any probable cause, the government cannot issue search and arrest warrants. It gives an assurance that their privacy is maintained unless there are any acts or activities against law. Even then a clear prescription is required in case a place needs to be searched or to seize a person or objects. It doesn't mean that the amendment prevents law enforcers to wait until they get the clearance, even after they have prior knowledge about any illegal acts, but it is an additional precaution that the rule of law shouldn't be misused. The Fifth Amendment talks about individual rights in criminal cases. The amendment protects persons from becoming self-witnesses in criminal cases involving them. There is also a clause named 'Double Jeopardy' where there can't be a retrial on the same offense once relieved form the case. The amendment also describes that government cannot involve in seizure of private property of individuals for public use until there is proper compensation to the citizens. It doesn't mean that the amendment denies the law enforcers to retry the individuals. However, it can be done until strong evidence is available for new trials. This amendment is a warning sign for everyone who tries to misuse the law. The sixth amendment says that every citizen has a right for fair trial. It establishes the confidence of people in the rule of law thus every individual's right for a speedy trial as well as sharing of proper information related to the nature and cause of accusation during criminal cases. It doesn't mean that any criminal case should be time bound, which gives an unfair advantage on defendants; however, the process is to ensure that there are proper proceedings with clear evidence in order to ensure justice prevails. The seventh amendment safeguards the rights of citizens in civil cases. The right to opt for jury trial on cases related to civil disputes, in case there is controversy on values that exceed twenty dollars. It doesn't mean there is any unfair advantage given to any individual. However, it is to ensure that civil cases need to be judged with proper outcomes. The eighth amendment explains that there won't be excessive bails or fines as well as cruel or unusual punishments in court cases. It is a clear indication that any court trial will end in a proper judgment, and the sentencing will be according to the law. It doesn't mean that the judges have limited powers; however, it is a necessity that the rule of law is used fairly in all cases. The ninth amendment is something special as it the enumeration in the constitution will not be modified to deny the legal rights retained by other people. It is clear and doesn't mean that law-abiding citizens shouldn't exercise the legal rights which they already seem addressed. The tenth amendment is an amendment for the states. It is for all states to exercise transparency on a whole which gives a fair advantage of them to enjoy maximum powers to run their states. It doesn't mean that the federal government is clipped off their powers on the states, but it presents a bigger picture of 'federalism' which enjoys sharing of powers in a democratic setup (Cornell University Law School, “Bill of Rights”).
Thought process of Founding Fathers to include each amendment
The inclusion of first amendment is based on the fact that America's survival as a democracy depends on the survival of its freedom. Hence any restriction on people's freedom would end the democratic setup. The thought process is very clear that in a civilized society like America, there would always be a section of people who would misuse their rights and involve in crimes. Hence the amendment is seen as a basic requirement to have individuals and groups to bear arms for their self-defense as well as the survival of the society as a whole. The third amendment is a much-needed inclusion as there shouldn't be a repeat of what happened in Britain during wartime as quartering of soldiers brought in major inconveniences to civilians. Hence the Founding Fathers judgment on making amendment gives an assurance that the rights of civilians will remain secured. Once again, the thought process is based on few unwanted acts of giving 'writ of assistance' by the British government during America's pre-independent days. Hence the amendment assures that there shouldn't be any forcible searches on civilians, unless there is a clear cause which needs to be approved by law. The Founding Fathers are decisive with this amendment as it reiterates that no major power can be enforced on law-abiding citizens, unless there is a clear case of evidence as well as the actions of government on land seizure is acceptable unless the owners get paid for it. The sixth amendment is vital as the law gives the right to individuals at the same time it also has the power to punish provided that there is a free and fair trial that upholds the rule of law. The seventh amendment reassures the fairness of trial in civil cases by involving jury trial, which adds more weight when it comes to the constitution. There is no second thought to have the eight amendment as a part of the constitution as it assures that judgment in court cases always remains fair and nobody remains betrayed by the rule of law under any circumstances. The ninth amendment is a clear proclamation by the Founding Fathers that the rights retained by the people will never be construed in whatever ways it can be. The purpose of bringing in the tenth amendment justifies the rule of law remains constructive and the federal setup of the country gets strengthened furthermore, (ushistory.org, "Bill of Rights and Later Amendments").
Inclusion of Additional Amendments
The question of whether the Founding Fathers should have made additional amendments along with the 'Bill of Rights' would always be debated. However, the debate is answered long-time back with the introduction of more amendments by the next generation of American leaders a century later. It addressed many issues that broiled the American society due to various divisions that arose among the citizens. There are seventeen more amendments added over a period of two centuries since the passing of 'Bill of Rights'. It has become very evident that the additional amendments have played a major part in strengthening the democratic setup and upholding the rule of law for the own good of the American citizens.
Suggestions for 'Bill of Responsibilities'
Ina strong democracy like America, the rule of law gives equal rights to all citizens. However, there is always a level of dissatisfaction that prevails among citizens for every now and then. The US Constitution with more than twenty amendments assures that America is a free land, and all citizens enjoy a free life within the ambit of law. Now there are many debates, whether there should be a bill, which should be the 'Bill of Responsibilities that makes the citizens to be more responsible. The debates would go on as the US Constitution itself allows the people to lead a more responsible life. Still there are times where not every citizen is expected to be responsible. Hence there are many suggestions by people to have a book of law that talks about responsibilities. In this technology era, there are many documents created and displayed online titled 'Bill of Responsibilities'. These documents are unofficial and not approved by law. However, the content and references found in these documents clearly suggest that people of America look forward to strengthening their nation’s democratic setup (Rose, "An American Bill of Responsibilities").
The US Constitution and the introduction of 'Bill of Rights' have ensured that America remains to be the world's best democracy forever. The real meaning of freedom is clearly seen through the constitutional setup. Every amendment ensures that every individual remains to be a free citizen enjoying all the rights given to him. The amendments also give the credibility to believe in America as a great democratic setup unlike many democracies in the world which remain namesake rather than abide by the true rule of law. Overall, the US Constitution which is more than two hundred years-old reassures the people of America that the democratic setup, and the rights of people will be safeguarded forever by the rule of law.
“Bill of Rights”. Cornell University Law School. 2015. Web. Accessed on 23 July 2015.
"Bill of Rights and Later Amendments". ushistory.org. 2013. Web. Accessed on 23 July 2015.
"An American Bill of Responsibilities". Rose, Judith. 2015. Web. Accessed on 23 July 2015.