Creating a Learning Network for Community Builders!

Preamble to the Declaration of Independence:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The standard- Our rights come from our creator the moment we are created.  No one, not even government, has the right to deny us these rights.  We have a right to defend ourselves, our families and other people from anyone who tries to deny us our rights.

Preamble to the Constitution:  We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The standard- The purpose of our government is for ensuring that people do the just thing and protecting ourselves from enemies, securing that our American Freedoms in the Declaration of Independence are upheld, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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..

The standard- We are free to be who we want to be, with who we want to be with, and to share our beliefs with others. We are free to tell our government when we are unhappy with it.

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.

The standard- We have a right to defend ourselves and to be able to own what we need to defend ourselves.

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.

The standard-  Our property is ours and cannot be freely used by the state.

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.

The standard- The government has to have a good reason, backed up by another person’s word, or other reasonable evidence, to search our private things, including our homes  if they suspect us of breaking the law.

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 offense 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 standard- We have a right to have our fellow citizens hear the case against us if the government charges us with something serious.  Special rules may apply for people in the military during war.  We don’t have to help the government make its case against us.  The state can’t take our things without a good reason, and without paying us what our things are worth.

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 defense.

The standard-  If there is an accusation against us, we have a right to know what law we broke and, in front of a jury of impartial people, to present our side of the story and to hear from the people accusing us. The government has to prove we did something wrong and to do so in a timely manner, or else it has to let us go.  If we can’t pay for a lawyer, the state has to give us one

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 reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

The standard- When people take us to court and say we owe them property valued at over $20 , for whatever reason, we have a right to have a jury trial where the people (a jury) hear our side of the story.

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

The standard- The bail we have to pay  to allow use to stay out of  jail before trial, as well as the penalties if we are found guilty, have to be in keeping with the seriousness of the charges against us.

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

The standard- The Constitution defines the limits of the State.   Anything not written is power the people still hold.

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.

The standard-  The Federal government can only do what the Constitution allows it to do and what the states allow it to do.  Any power beyond the Constitution may be defined by the states and their constitutions.  Any power not granted to the states through their constitutions is given directly to the people.

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