America is know as the “land of the free and home of the brave.” Whether you were born in the United States or immigrated and was naturalized to gain citizenship, do you know just what it means to live in the “land of the free”? Do you understand your rights as a citizen in the “home of the brave”?
The majority of United States citizen rights are addressed in The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the Constitution. The First Amendment is all about freedom--of speech, press, and expression---and how Congress cannot pass laws that inhibit these freedoms. The Second Amendment preserves citizen rights to weapons and Third Amendment prohibits government from forcing citizens to house soldiers. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments deal with search and seizure and the government taking property without probable cause. The Fifth Amendment also includes the beginning framework for fair trial. Trial is further outlined in the Sixth and Seventh Amendments ensuring that citizens receive trial before a jury in a timely fashion. The eighth amendment outlaws cruel and unusual punishment. The Ninth Amendment clarifies that you are not limited to the rights listed in The Bill of Rights. In conclusion, The Tenth Amendment distributes any Congressional power that is not specifically outlined in the Constitution to the individual states or to the citizens.
Further amendments have been added throughout time as our country had developed and society shifts. For example, the Fourteenth Amendment states that any immigrant that has been naturalized is recognized as a citizen. The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Amendments state that rights cannot be withheld from citizens based on race, color, or gender.
It is important to understand your rights so that if you are ever faced with legal charges, you get the treatment you deserve.