Bill of Rights

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The Preamble to
The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United
States


begun and held at the City of New-York, on

Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty
nine.



click to enlarge



THE Conventions
of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the
Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction
or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses
should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in
the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring,
that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several
States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all,
or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said
Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the
said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United
States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures
of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original
Constitution.
Note: The following text
is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution
in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15,
1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."

Amendment I
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.
Amendment II
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.
Amendment III
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.
Amendment IV
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.
Amendment V
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.
Amendment VI
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.
Amendment VII
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.
Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor
cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be
construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X
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.

Constitutional
Amendments 1-10 make up what is known as "The Bill of Rights".

Amendments 11-27 are listed below.

Amendment XI

Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Ratified February 7, 1795.
Note: Article III, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by amendment
11.
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend
to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of
the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects
of any Foreign State.


Amendment XII

Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804.
Note: A portion of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution was superseded
by the 12th amendment.
The Electors shall meet in
their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President,
one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state
with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted
for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President,
and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President,
and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of
votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit
sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed
to the President of the Senate; -- the President of the Senate shall,
in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all
the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; -- The person
having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President,
if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed;
and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the
highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for
as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately,
by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes
shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having
one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members
from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall
be necessary to a choice. [And if the House of Representatives shall
not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon
them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President
shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional
disability of the President. --]* The person having the greatest number
of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number
be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person
have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate
shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist
of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the
whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally
ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President
of the United States.
*Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment.


Amendment XIII

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.
Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded
by the 13th amendment.
Section 1.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for
crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist
within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Amendment XIV

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section
2 of the 14th amendment.
Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to
the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of
the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law
which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the
United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty,
or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2.

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according
to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in
each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote
at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President
of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and
Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof,
is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one
years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged,
except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of
representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the
number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male
citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector
of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military,
under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously
taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United
States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive
or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the
United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against
the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress
may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law,
including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services
in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any
debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against
the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any
slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal
and void.
Section 5.

The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation,
the provisions of this article.
*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment.


Amendment XV

Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.
Section 1.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied
or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race,
color, or previous condition of servitude--
Section 2.

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate
legislation.


Amendment XVI

Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.
Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment
16.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from
whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States,
and without regard to any census or enumeration.


Amendment XVII

Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.
Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the
17th amendment.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from
each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator
shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications
requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate,
the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to
fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may
empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the
people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or
term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.


Amendment XVIII

Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Repealed
by amendment 21.
Section 1.

After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture,
sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation
thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and
all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes
is hereby prohibited.
Section 2.

The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce
this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3.

This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified
as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several
States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the
date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.


Amendment XIX

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied
or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Amendment XX

Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933.
Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section
2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was
superseded by section 3.
Section 1.

The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on
the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives
at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms
would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms
of their successors shall then begin.
Section 2.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting
shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by
law appoint a different day.
Section 3.

If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President,
the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall
become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before
the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect
shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act
as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress
may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor
a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act
as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected,
and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President
shall have qualified.
Section 4.

The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the
persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President
whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for
the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may
choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved
upon them.
Section 5.

Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following
the ratification of this article.
Section 6.

This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified
as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths
of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.


Amendment XXI

Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.
Section 1.

The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United
States is hereby repealed.
Section 2.

The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession
of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors,
in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
Section 3.

This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified
as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States,
as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of
the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.


Amendment XXII

Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.
Section 1.

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,
and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President,
for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected
President shall be elected to the office of President more than once.
But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of
President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not
prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting
as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative
from holding the office of President or acting as President during
the remainder of such term.
Section 2.

This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified
as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths
of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission
to the States by the Congress.


Amendment XXIII

Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.
Section 1.

The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States
shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole
number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District
would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least
populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States,
but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President
and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall
meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth
article of amendment.
Section 2.

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
legislation.


Amendment XXIV

Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.
Section 1.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or
other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President
or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall
not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason
of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.
Section 2.

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
legislation.


Amendment XXV

Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.
Note: Article II, section 1, of the Constitution was affected by the
25th amendment.
Section 1.

In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or
resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2.

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the
President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon
confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3.

Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the
Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written
declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of
his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to
the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice
President as Acting President.
Section 4.

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers
of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may
by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate
and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration
that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of
his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers
and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore
of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written
declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and
duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either
the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body
as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President
pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives
their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the
powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the
issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in
session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the
latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within
twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by
two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge
the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue
to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall
resume the powers and duties of his office.


Amendment XXVI

Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971.
Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section
1 of the 26th amendment.
Section 1.

The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of
age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United
States or by any State on account of age.
Section 2.

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
legislation.


Amendment XXVII

Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and
Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives
shall have intervened.
 
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