Sunday, December 15, 2013

Celebrate! Today is the 222 Anniversary of the Ratification of the Bill of Rights! (and fun quiz)

First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; 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 Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment:

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 Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment:

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 Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Seventh Amendment:

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.

Eight Amendment:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Ninth Amendment:

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

Tenth Amendment:

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.

Not to disparage our Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, but it always seemed to me that they could have gotten by with 9 Amendments, and that the 9th and 10th could properly have been combined, and that doing so might have actually strengthened their content, rather than diluting it by separating it into two separate amendments.

Two additional amendments were NOT ratified for inclusion in the Bill of Rights:

This one:
After the enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

and this one:

No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

I think both of these are excellent amendments.  Currently the number of members of Congress is stuck at 435, regardless of the amount of growth of the population of the United States.  Rather than each member of Congress elected to the House of Representatives representing a specific number of people, either general population OR those who are eligible to vote, the total population of the 50 states is apportioned among the states based on their share of the population, with the proviso that every state gets at least 1 Representative (a sort of automatic default share).  Currently Alaska, both North Dakota and South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, Vermont and Delaware have only 1 Representative. 

It is an interesting proposition whether this would be a deterrent to gerrymandering, or if it might add to or reduce the gridlock in the Congress.  Given that Independent Voters, who do not consider themselves aligned with either party, is a growing demographic, that could shift the balance of partisan politics into a real three party system.


1. The Bill of Rights was ratified 222 years ago; when was the original Constitution ratified?
a. 1786
b. 1787
c. 1788
d. 1789

2. How many other amendments have failed ratification, because they were not ratified within the time limit allowed by Congress? (Bonus points if you can name more than one)
a. 2
b. 4
c. 7

3. Which amendment was the last to be ratified, and what did it do?
a. 26th, changing the status of the territories of Alaska and Hawaii, to allow them to become states, because they were not part of the contiguous U.S.b. 29th, allowing women to serve in combat
c. 30th, giving the territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico non-voting representation in Congress.
d. 31st, giving a vote in the House of Representatives to the District of Columbia, but no Senator

4. Which Amendment was passed and then repealed - and what did that amendment do? (bonus points if you can name which amendment repealed it)
a. 16th, designated the Confederate states as traitors, rescinding their rights to representation in Congress for a period of time.
b. 18th, made alcohol illegal
c. 20th, took the U.S. off the gold standard
d. 21st, changed the number of members of the Supreme Court

5. The 17th amendment changed the election of Senators to direct election, rather than by state legislatures, in 1913.  Which current member of Congress seeks to repeal the 17th amendment, and by which party is this sought?
a. Jeff Flake, Senator from Arizona
b. Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas
c. Steve Sivers, Congressman from Ohio
d. Rand Paul, Senator from Kentucky
e. all of the above

The Tea Party branch of the GOP advocates for the repeal of the 17th amendment, True or False?

Quiz answers will be published on Tuesday!

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