The United States constitution is a well written plan or set of rules for the national government. It explains how laws are made, how leaders are chosen and what the national government can and cannot do. The constitution includes ten amendments called the bill of rights. This gives the American people important rights and freedoms. The fourteenth amendment was effected so as to makes the prohibitions against government encroachments upon individual liberties and freedom of the bill of rights applicable to the state. The first ten amendments to the constitution, that is, the bill of rights serves to guarantee the liberties and freedoms of individuals. Individual rights and freedoms are of an expressive nature and are required for citizens, this ensures that the government is put in a position that does not infringe this rights. There are ten amendments in the bill in rights; the first amendment is the freedom of religion, speech, the press and petition.
This amendment is the most important and most deserving of protection, this vital clause was followed by the free exercise of religion clause that guaranteed the freedom of conscience and belief. Expression is protected by the two clauses of the first amendment that prohibits abridging the freedom of speech and the press. This clause clearly states that the government cannot censor or restrain expression of any kind, in a bid to protect this law the Supreme Court precedents jealously to guard it. Through the Supreme Court the constitution is safeguarded and the individual rights are also guarded. The bill of rights in this case makes it important to the American people as they are able to express themselves. Before the bill of rights was amended Americans had no freedom or liberty to do anything the restrictions ranged from religion to freedom of speech. This resulted to unfair trials with unfair rulings and imprisonments for those bold enough to speak out.
The fourth amendment in the constitution protects individual’s privacy and prohibits the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. It applies to government action only, and not to intrusion by individuals or private entities in which the government plays no part. Thus, students and teachers in private schools are not protected. In the bid to safeguard the constitution and to put in line the amendment the supreme court in viewing certain situations involving searches, may establish the standard of “reasonable suspicion” that permits a search if, the inception of the search is reasonable to assume something is hidden that may be harmful to those around. This amendment not only safeguards individual rights but the effect of the decision is to reduce the margin of student privacy while increasing school administrator flexibility in the conduct of searches. In other cases as the society has become more concerned about illegal drugs, guns and bombs the U.S Supreme Court has tended to expand the definition of reasonableness. This amendment is important to the American people as it safeguards their homes and properties from unreasonable searches.
The Fifth Amendment protects against unfair criminal trials and double jeopardy. This is mostly pertinent to public schools, the clause state ‘no person shall be..compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself or be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law’. The second part of the amendment touches on racial segregation in public schools in this case the Supreme Court pushed on the equal protection act that defined and repeated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The third part prohibits the taking of property for public use without due process of the law; this ascertained that the laws of property were well taken care of.
The ninth amendment was added in recognition that individual liberties and freedoms were not limited to those specifically enumerated in other clauses of the bill of rights. In this amendment the framers of the constitution were well aware and anticipated the fact that the freedoms enumerated in the bill of rights may not be sufficient to foretell all the contingencies or intrusions on liberties in the future.
The Fourteenth Amendment overalls the rest of the bill of rights and encompasses most of the freedoms and liberties expressed in the other amendments. In the first part of the amendment that touches on due process expands on the intent and meaning of liberty and property and a procedural aspect. The second part of the fourteenth amendment has guarded the equality throughout the society, is equal protection. This clause is an inhibition against denial of equal protection of the law with exclusive reference to state action. This clause forbids invidious discrimination against persons or classes of people.
The importance of the constitution and the bill of rights is well preserved for the American people. In this they can be able to not only defend themselves but be aware of their constitutional freedoms and limitations. Following the existence of the bill of rights the American people are now able to safeguard their constitutional rights and express themselves through different avenues. From religion to no racial or class segregation the constitution has played a vital role of providing unity among the American people. Though different Supreme Court rulings have been used to limit certain clauses in the bill of rights it still seeks to cooperate with the same constitution. The constitution has also provided the government a better platform in ensuring the citizens rights are not violated through making of amendments in certain clauses through the congress.
Kern Alexander, M. David Alexander. American Public School Law. 8, Illustrated. cengage learning, 2011.
Simmons, Richard C. The United States Constitution: The first 200 years: Papers delivered at a bicentennial colloquium at the University of Birmingham. Manchester University Press, 1989.