October 27, 2009

The Twelfth 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 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 the 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. "

Although the twelfth amendment is extremely long it is relatively simple. All it is really saying is how the president and vice president will be decided in the United States. It speaks on the popular vote as well as the electoral college-- basically laying out how the nation will decide upon it's leader.

This video explains the electoral college and how it works in "picking" the president.

In this video, a man voices his opinion of the eleventh amendment and more specifically the ticket of Bush/Cheney. This video is nearly two-years old but I thought it was rather amusing and he poses some interesting points.

October 08, 2009

The Eleventh Amendment.

"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."

This is an extremely cut-and-dry amendment. This amendment was written to protect the states from having foreign countries bring a suit upon them or from having citizens of another state sue them.

This video clearly explains the eleventh amendment and why it is important to our nation.

This is basically some random guy on youtube explaining the eleventh amendment. It was pretty difficult to try to find a second form of media on the eleventh amendment so this will have to do!

The 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."

This Amendment sort of works in contrary to the Ninth Amendment. It is basically stating that the powers that are not stated and given to the national government within the constitution will be decided by the states government or "to the people". When this was written I believe that the founding fathers were wanting very little federal government and for more power to be held within the states. This amendment gives more power to the states in that sense-- for example, states can decide for themselves whether or not to legalize gay marriage, not the federal government. This is one example of what the tenth amendment is speaking about.

In this video, Charles Key, a representative from Oklahoma, states his opinion on the tenth amendment and states his concern that the federal government is over stepping it's bounds and not taking into consideration what the tenth amendment clearly states. He speaks on behalf of many people in Oklahoma attempting to rid itself of the federal government meddling in the state's business.

This is a video of yet another state-- Kansas, rallying for sovereignty citing the 10th amendment to back it's argument.

The Ninth Amendment.

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

To me, the ninth amendment is sort of an afterthought to the rest of the constitution. It basically says that not every right is going to be laid out for you in the constitution. It is essentially saying that your rights are but not limited to those listed in the constitution. For example, people have the right to have children and travel but those rights are not listed in the constitution. This amendment says that just because those two rights are not listed in the constitution it does not mean they are still not your rights just the same.

This is a pastor speaking on his point of view on the ninth amendment. It is a very religious interpretation of the 9th amendment.

This is a completely different take on the 9th amendment--this attorney is refuting the claim that the ninth amendment over-rights the ninth amendment. It's a pretty interesting argument that I had never thought of before.

The Eight Amendment.

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

In theory, the eight amendment protects citizens from an "excessive" bail and fine and also provides protection from "cruel and unusual punishment". Although this seems just great, there is no definition to the words "excessive" and "cruel and unusual". To me, an "excessive bail" may be $5,000 but to the judge, that may seem quite reasonable. There have been many cases in which judges impose several million dollars bail on people who can clearly not come up with that sum of money. There is also no definition on what is "cruel and unusual punishment" so this is always up for interpretation. I believe that the eight amendment in theory is great, but in reality almost the entire amendment is up for interpretation and therefore really does not protect anyone.

This first video is just a funny skit on bail bonds and the 8th amendment's "excessive" bail.

In this video Michael Badnarik explains the 8th amendment and shares my same view-point on the usefulness of this amendment.

The 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."

The seventh amendment is pretty cut and dry to me-- it garuntees most citizens a trial by jury in civil cases. I really don't have much to say about this amendment but I found a video in which an attorney in Illinois has VERY strong feelings on the seventh amendment and the fact that it protects no one.

In this video an attorney shoots down the seventh amendment stating that it is basically useless in the United States today.

This video is just a basic explanation of the 7th amendment and a bit of the video makers opinion on the topic.

The 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."

The sixth amendment guarantees the right to a speedy trial-- this means that the prosecution has a set number of days to bring their case against the defendant. It also states that citizens has the right to an impartial jury if they so choose to have a jury, meaning that the jury would be made up of people who had no personal ties to anyone that was a part of the trial and would also have little to no background information on the case at hand. Along with this, the accused is also allowed to see those who are testifying against them. They are also allowed to confront these witnesses in person. Lastly, the six amendment ensures that the accused have the right to speak to an attorney as well as be notified of all charges he or she is being charged with at the time. The sixth amendment protects all people who may be going into the criminal court to make the trial as fair and impartial as possible. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. OJ Simpson's case for example-- how easy would it be to find an "impartial" jury for that case?

This video depicts that sometimes a "speedy" trial is not really as speedy as the accused would like. Sometimes cases can take years to finally go to court.

This video is an attorney explaining the sixth amendment in very simple terms.

The 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."

The Fifth Amendment is probably the most well-known amendment due to the popular phrase, "I plead the fifth". This amendment ensures that American citizens have the right to a trial by jury, they cannot be tried for the same crime more than once, and they do not have to speak about anything that may incriminate themselves. This amendment also states that they will not be deprived of "life, liberty, or property". In the last statement, "...nor shall private property be taken for public use,without just compensation" it is said that the government cannot take your private property to make room for roads, etc. without first giving you "just compensation". Although this all sounds ideal, there are always many complaints about what truly is "just compensation" and if the American people are truly receiving it when their property is taken from them.

This court room video shows an attorney pleading for fifth amendment rights on behalf of his client.

This second video is a wonderful video on the fifth amendment. It is a law professor going through in detail and explaining the fifth amendment from a defense attorney's point of view. This video helped me understand the fifth amendment a little bit more in depth.

The 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."

In my opinion, this is one of the most important amendments in the constitution. This amendment protects American citizens from being searched without probable cause or a warrant. It also protects the citizens property. Without this amendment, a police officer could enter your home and search it for any reason-- even taking items from your home without your permission. This could also lead to larger things such as police officers being able to seize an entire car or house without probable cause. This amendment protects not only your persons and property but also your privacy in that the police cannot barge into your house without first going through the proper measures.

This video shows how the fourth amendment can be interpreted to mean something else. In Boston, the police are now able to enter homes and search children's bedrooms to make sure there are not guns present. The lawyers on the panel discuss the blatant disregard for the forth amendment in this situation.

This second video is from June 20, 2008 when the Senate voted to invalidate the 4th amendment. This video shows some of what the senators had to say about the Bill HR 6304.

The 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."

This amendment is a pretty straight-forward one. It protects the American people from having to house soldiers against their will. This amendment may seem a bit silly right now-- but back when it was written it lifted a huge weight off of the citizens. Imagine having a pack of soldiers show up on your door step and you would have no choice but the let them live in your house and eat your food. What an incredible burden that would be on families! While some families would be more than happy to take in soldiers if they had nowhere else to sleep, some families just cannot to do that. This amendment protects those people.

These two videos show the same idea. Without this amendment soldiers could basically show up on any doorstep and demand to be housed!

The 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."

At first glance this amendment may seem like one that would create little to no controversy. Most American's do agree that a well regulated militia is in fact necessary to the security of our country. However, few issues in America truly generate as much debate as the right to keep and bear arms. There are extremes on both sides as well as those who linger somewhere in the middle of this heated debate. Some, such as the members of the NRA, believe that it is every American's right to own just about any small arm that can be manufactured. There are also those on the other side of the debate who believe that no American should have the right to own a gun-- they believe that guns are dangerous and will inevitably kill. In my opinion, people should have the right to own some form of gun if they feel necessary and go through the necessary legal proceedings to obtain one. However, I don't completely agree with the NRA...what average person really needs to carry around a large caliber gun?

This is a video by Penn & Teller-- this video most depicts my opinion on the right to bear arms issue. It's extremely short and I believe that it speaks for itself.

This is a video that is very much on the opposite side of the spectrum from the Penn & Teller video. This is an interview with Ted Nugent who is very passionate about the general public having the right to bear arms.