Skip to content

Off The Editor’s Desk – 3-28-2018

 Constitution gives them the right to protest! 

Students gathered at the Nation’s Capitol last week to protest gun violence and request new laws that they think will stop some deranged person from using a gun to kill and injure others. 

I am all for protesting to call attention to your agenda because it does bring results in the long run. These students are guaranteed the right to protest by the First Amendment of the Constitution. “The people have the right to peaceably assemble.” 

I was upset with part of the ongoing protest over guns when I heard that some of the people involved are calling for the United States to abandon the Constitution. They say, “It’s old and outdated.” I have not heard what kind of document they would propose to replace it with. But the Constitution, which has been the rule of the land since September 17, 1787 has served us well, kept us free and is a living agreement between the citizens and the government of this country. And, it can be changed from time to time to reflect the changing needs of us, the people. 

It demands how our government is constructed with three separate branches (Legislative, Executive and Judicial) that act as a balance to protect all citizens. It sets out how we elected our representatives and how the power is divided among the three branches. It lays out how our government functions. 

But, the most important part is the First Ten Amendments, called the “Bill of Rights,” which were ratified in 1891, is our guarantee of the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this United States. 

I will try to recap what those ten amendments are: 

The first states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of; 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.” 

Second: is the right to bear arms. 

Third: “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.” 

Fourth: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” 

Fifth: This Amendment states that a person can be tried only once for a crime. The entire Amendment is: “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 offence 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. 

Sixth: Has to do with the right to a speedy trial and public trial by an impartial jury and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. 

Seventh: “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.” 

Eighth: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.” 

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

Tenth: “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.” 

Since then, the Constitution has been amended 17 times. The right to vote was granted to 18-year-olds on July 1, 1971 and the last Amendment (the 27th) was adopted on May 7, 1992, which prohibits Congress from giving themselves a raise, during their term of office. 

The Constitution is a document that can be changed, but not easily done, and it takes two-thirds of the states to approve a change. 

Thanks for reading! ~ Carlton