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Understand the Bill of Rights

Read Amendment 1 through Amendment 9 and the Bill of Rights Topic Page Then, answer the following questions:

1. Why was a bill of rights not included in the original Constitution?

2. Who was the champion of the Bill of Rights in Congress?

3. How many articles of amendment were sent to the states in 1789?

4. How many of the original articles of amendment are now part of the Constitution?

5. What rights are guaranteed by the 1st Amendment?

6. What do you consider to be the most important right in the Bill of Rights, and why?

7. Are there any rights in the Bill of Rights that you do not find to be important? Why?

8. What does it mean to "take the 5th?"

9. When did the Supreme Court begin to apply the Bill of Rights to the states?

10. What parts of the Bill of Rights have not been found to apply to the states?

11. What rights would you like to see protected in a constitutional amendment? Why?

Bonus : Who proposed the Article of Amendment that ultimately became the twenty-seventh amendment?


The Bill of Rights (Plain Text Version)

Ratified December 15, 1791

Amendment I

Congress should not say that the nation has only one religion, or tell people they cannot practice a religion of their own choice; it should not tell people what to say or what to write in the press; it should not tell people they can get together to protest peacefully, and to write to the government to complain about a decision that has been made.

Amendment II

The right for the government to organize an army, and for individual citizens to own and use guns, should not be taken away.

Amendment III

No soldier, when there is peace, should live in a house without the owner saying it’s okay. If there is a war, then the soldier needs to follow the law about living in other people’s houses.

Amendment IV

Search warrants (specific permission) shall be necessary for any search of a person’s house or belongings. Officials must present good evidence as to why the warrant should be given.

Amendment V

The rights of a person accused of a crime must include an official statement about the crime, and a person may not be tried twice for the same specific criminal incident. All of the steps of the must be followed in order to punish a person or take away their property.

Amendment VI

A person accused of a crime has the rights to a fair trial by a jury, to question witnesses for or against him or her, and to be provided a lawyer if he or she cannot afford one.

Amendment VII

In civil suits (not criminal) that involve property more than twenty dollars, a jury trial may be requested.

Amendment VIII

Bail should never be set too high, and punishments should never be cruel and unusual.

Amendment IX

Any right not listed in the Bill of Rights is not necessarily denied to the people.

Amendment X

Any power not given to the United States or to the individual states is reserved for the people.

Constitution Scavenger Hunt

Information on the United States Constitution can be found on the National Constitution Center:

Explore the Constitution website. Use the navigation bar at the top of the screen to help you find the answers to these questions. Good luck, and have fun!

1. Article I gives legislative, or lawmaking, power to ________________ .

Article II gives the president _______________ power.

Article III gives judicial power to the ______________and to inferior (lower) courts.

2. Which article of the Constitution addresses the rights of the states?

3. Which article of the Constitution addresses how the Constitution can be amended?

4. Article VI, clause (paragraph) 2, states that judges in every state must go by what the Constitution says.

It says that the Constitution is the _________________________ of the land.

5. How many of the 13 states were required to ratify the Constitution before it could go into effect?

6. How old would you have to be to serve in the House of Representatives?

7. To impeach means to formally accuse an official of a crime. Who has the “sole power of impeachment” in the Constitution?

8. How many senators are there from each state and how long is the term served by a member of the Senate?

9. What is the minimum age for a senator?

10. Only one constitutional responsibility is defined for the vice president. What is it?

11. What is the minimum age for the president?

12. Article II, Section 2, clause 2, identifies two powers of the president. What are those powers?

13. The only crime defined by the Constitution can be found in Article III, Section 3. What is it?

14. Which section of Article IV tells you that there could be 51 or 52 states someday?

15. If two-thirds of the Congress or two-thirds of the states propose an amendment to the Constitution, it will take effect when of the states ratify it.




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