Subscribe to The Constitution In The News

The Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, Descendant of the Magna Carta

 “No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” Magna Carta, Chapter 39, June 15, 1215 June 15, 2015 marks the 800th Anniversary […]

The Sixth Amendment’s Right to Confront Witnesses

Sir Walter Raleigh of the late 1500’s is known for a number of things.  He was a great explorer[1] of the New World, both North and South America. He is either credited or cursed for promoting tobacco in England.  He is cited as an example of the consummate gentleman for putting his cloak on a […]

Sixth Amendment Right to Be Informed of Criminal Charges

It certainly seems obvious and fair that when the government charges someone with a crime that the person be told what law he has violated and what he did to violate that law.  That a government does not always conduct itself in a fair manner and that it needs to be reminded of the obvious […]

Sixth Amendment’s Right to a Jury in Criminal Cases

The list of colonial grievances against King George in the Declaration of Independence included: “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: … He has abdicated Government here…” In Article III, the unamended Constitution provided for jury trials in criminal cases[1] as follows: “The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases […]

Sixth Amendment’s Public Trial: From Communal Duty to Accused’s Right

The Constitution’s Bill of Rights contains many procedural protections for those the government accuses of having committed a crime.  Among them is the Sixth Amendment right to a “public trial”.  The provision is stated: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a… public trial” The concept of a public trial is ancient, but it did […]

Sixth Amendment’s Speedy Trial Right: Ancient, Worthy and Elusive

The Constitution’s Bill of Rights contains many protections for those the government accuses of having committed a crime.  Among them is the Sixth Amendment right to a “speedy trial”.  The provision is stated: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy … trial” The right may has old roots and […]

The Sixth Amendment’s Right to the Assistance of Counsel

Thanks to television police reading the Miranda Warnings people are familiar with a criminal defendant’s right to an attorney and that an indigent defendant may have appointed counsel. Such protections have not always been part of United States law. The right to an attorney is found in the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment.  The Sixth Amendment was ratified as part of the Bill […]

Fourth Amendment Probable Cause for a Warrantless Arrest

A police officer cannot arrest a citizen without a warrant based upon a hunch or mere suspicion. He must have “probable cause”. The US Constitution‘s Fourth Amendment[1] requires a warrant for a person or his property to be “seized” or searched by a government agent.  The law has developed allowing government agents to conduct warrantless […]

The Sixth Amendment, One Amendment, Six Constitutional Rights

The Sixth Amendment contains rights beyond the well-known right to an attorney in criminal matters. There are six constitutional rights in the Sixth Amendment.  They are procedural rights designed to protect an individual’s inalienable natural rights of life and liberty found in the Declaration of Independence. The Sixth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, […]

The Seventeenth Amendment: Destroying State Sovereignty

From 1789 to 1913 the power to choose United States Senators was vested by the Constitution in the State legislatures. The Seventeenth Amendment altered the process by providing for direct election of Senators by the people. This fundamentally altered a carefully balanced power structure built into the unamended Constitution that served important purposes: to limit federal power […]