Know Your Constitutional Rights

Kristeen Hernandez aka Lady2Soothe

Make sure you know your rights; as a U.S. Citizen, regardless of immigration status, have rights under the U.S. CONSTITUTION.

THE BILL OF RIGHTS was added to the Constitution in the form of 33 AMENDMENTS however only 27 constitutional amendments exist, though many different versions of a 28th Amendment have been suggested. At different times, overwhelming majorities in several states have passed their own versions of the 28th Amendment, but none have been ratified.. The chief purpose of the amendments was to protect the rights of individuals from the government’s interference. They guarantee rights such as religious freedom, freedom of the press, and trial by jury to all American citizens.

Constitutional rights aren’t effective if you don’t know what they are. What are your rights as an American?

1st AMENDMENT: Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the press, the right to assemble, the right to petition government.

2nd AMENDMENT: The right to form a militia and to keep and bear arms.

3rd AMENDMENT: The right not to have soldiers in one’s home.

4th AMENDMENT: Protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

5th AMENDMENT: No one can be tried for a serious crime unless indicted (accused) by a grand jury. No one can be forced to testify against herself or himself. No one can be punished without due process of law. People must be paid for property taken for public use.

6th AMENDMENT: People have a right to a speedy trial, to legal counsel, and to confront their accusers.

7th AMENDMENT: People have the right to a jury trial in civil suits exceeding $20.

8th AMENDMENT: Protection against excessive bail (money to release a person from jail), stiff fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.

9th AMENDMENT: Because there are so many basic human rights, not all of them could be listed in the Constitution. This amendment means that the rights that are enumerated cannot infringe upon rights that are not listed in the Constitution.

10th AMENDMENT: Powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution belong to the states or the people.

11th 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.

12th AMENDMENT: providing for election of the president and vice president by the electoral college: should there be no majority vote for one person, the House of Representatives (one vote per state) chooses the president and the Senate the vice president.

13th AMENDMENT (1865): Slavery shall not be allowed in the U.S.

14th AMENDMENT: defining national citizenship and forbidding the states to restrict the basic rights of citizens or other persons. Fourteenth Amendment in Culture Expand.

15TH AMENDMENT: granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that 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.”

16th AMENDMENT: 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.

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.

18th AMENDMENT: effectively established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States by declaring the production, transport, and sale of alcohol (though not the consumption or private possession) illegal.

19th AMENDMENT (1920): Women have the right to vote.

20th AMENDMENT: moved the beginning and ending of the terms of the president and vice president from March 4 to January 20, and of members of Congress from March 4 to January 20.

21st AMENDMENT: repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which had mandated nationwide Prohibition on alcohol on January 16, 1919. The Twenty-firstAmendment was ratified on December 5, 1933.

22nd AMENDMENT: ensures that no person can be elected to more than two four-year terms as President of the United States. The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, was passed in reaction to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office.

23rd AMENDMENT: extends the right to vote in the presidential election to citizens residing in the District of Columbia by granting the District electors in the Electoral College, as if it were a state.

24th AMENDMENT: abolished the poll tax for all federal elections. A poll tax was a tax of anywhere from one to a few dollars that had to be paid annually by each voter in order to be able to cast a vote.

25th AMENDMENT: allows for the Vice President to become president in the event of death, resignation, removal from office or impairment that prevents the current president from fulfilling his or her duties.

26th AMENDMENT (1971): U.S. citizens who are 18 years of age or older have the right to vote. (Previously, they had to be 21 years old.)

27th AMENDMENT: prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives.

In 1989, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child because “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care” and because “in all countries of the world, there are children living in exceptionally difficult conditions.” Following are highlights of the 41 articles of rights.

1. Every child has a right to life.
2. Every child has a right to a name at birth and a nationality.
3. Every child has the right to live with his or her parent unless it is against the child’s best interests.
4. Special protection shall be given to refugee children.
5. Every child has the right to the highest standard of health and medical care possible.
6. The child has a right to education. The state is to ensure that primary education is free and compulsory.
7. No child shall be subjected to torture, cruel treatment, unlawful arrest, or deprivation of liberty.
8. Children under 15 shall not be recruited into the armed forces.


Kristeen Irigoyen-Hernandez

Human Rights Advocate, Researcher/Chronological Archivist and member in good standing with the Constitution First Amendment Press Association