Kevin Price
Bill of Rights were designed to protect the people, not the government
By Kevin Price
January 22, 2011

Thomas Jefferson argued that "When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." To me, this important quote (from his Monticello Papers) sets the stage for the ideas behind the Bill of Rights, which are the first ten amendments of the US Constitution.

These amendments were not an after thought to make the Constitution better, but became a line in the sand in the eyes of those who feared that government did not have sufficient limits placed on it in then newly developed Constitution. The events that led to their inclusion were driven by Virginia delegate George Mason. Simply put, without the ratification of the Bill of Rights, there would be no ratification of the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights, in simple English:

First Amendment. Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion, to Petition the Government. Regardless of how "ugly" the speech, it is permissible under the law. Government will always find its critics offensive, so latitude in what people can say is important. There are, of course, limits to this, but they are very few.

Second Amendment. Right to Keep and Bear Arms. This was not meant simply for a standing army (see Jefferson's quote above), but as a final check for a government that grows out of control.

Third Amendment. Quartering of Troops. Following an ugly war with England, the new government made it clear that it would not impose itself on the people.

Fourth Amendment. Unreasonable Search and Seizure. One of the fundamental ideas of our government is that restrictions are placed on our ability to incriminate ourselves. You better have cause and, in most cases, a warrant to go in a person's home.

Fifth Amendment. Due Process, Double Jeopardy, Protection of Property. Other than those in the military, everyone is assured certain rights to protect their freedom. This includes the right to own property.

Sixth Amendment. Rights of the Accused. The most important, is to knowing what you are accused of. People can not be held in jail without cause.

Seventh Amendment. Civil Right to a Jury. The only exception is some non-civil trials and in the military.

Eighth Amendment. Cruel and Unusual Punishment and Excessive Bail.

Ninth Amendment. Rights not addressed. If they are not addressed in the Constitution, it is assumed the people have them in this important amendment.

Tenth Amendment. Powers of the States and People. A progressive website described this as "Rights not addressed in the first 10 Amendments will have to be determined by 'the people' at a later date." This could not be further from the truth, it actually simply states that "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." There is nothing "later" about it. If it is not in the Constitution, it is left to the states and the people, only a grueling amendment process can change the law. What is most important about this is that these rights are meant to protect the people, not the federal government. This stands against the trend of legal opinion we have seen for years.

© Kevin Price


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Kevin Price

Kevin Price is Publisher and Editor in Chief of

His background is eclectic and includes years of experience in both business and public policy, as well as two decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later went on to work in policy areas with some of the nation's leading think tanks including the National Center for Public Policy Research and was part of the Heritage Foundation's Annual Guide to Public Policy Experts... (more)


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