Ever Read the Bill of Rights?

Coal Cracker reporter and columnist Emma Shaller.Ask Emma
Advice on food, fashion and life in general

By Emma Shaller



Q: Have you ever read the Bill of Rights?

Emma: I plead the fifth!

No, I had not read the Bill of Rights. I learned about the Constitution in fourth grade (last year), and my mom and I looked up the Bill of Rights online because I needed more information. I also went to Rep. Neal Goodman’s office (D-123) and got a copy of the Bill of Rights. I learned that there are 10 amendments in it.

These amendments are important because they are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. They were approved in 1791 and they outline the basic rights and freedoms of American citizens. Here is the Bill of Rights from

1st Amendment

Defines the freedoms of religion, speech and press.

2nd Amendment

Guarantees Americans the right to bear arms, or own guns.

3rd Amendment

Prevents the government from forcing citizens to shelter soldiers in their homes.

4th Amendment

Protects the privacy of American citizens. It prohibits, or prevents, unnecessary or unreasonable searches of a person’s property.

5th Amendment

Guarantees all Americans the right to a fair and legal trial. It also protects someone from testifying against him- or herself under oath.

6th Amendment

Guarantees the right to a speedy trial.

7th Amendment

Guarantees the right to a trial by jury in civil, or private, legal cases where damages are more than $20.

8th Amendment

Prohibits unreasonable bail or fines and cruel and unusual punishment.

9th Amendment

Recognizes that Americans have rights that are not listed in the Constitution.

10th Amendment

Says that powers not given to the United States government by the Constitution belong to the states or to the people.

As a Coal Cracker journalist, my most favorite amendment is freedom of the press. When I went to Rep. Goodman’s office I asked why he thinks freedom of the press is so important and he said that although he “does not always agree with what is printed in the newspaper or spoken on air, a free and unfettered press is vital to a free society like ours. The press serves as a marketplace of ideas and keeps people informed about what is going on in the community, their nation and the world. To appreciate the importance of a free press to democracy, you only have to look to countries that do not have our freedoms, such as North Korea. Rulers of that nation control the media, and do so to control the people of that country.”

Seventeen amendments were added to the Constitution after the Bill of Rights, and more may still be added.

Who better to soothe your worries or solve your problems than a 10-year-old with a quick wit? Email with your questions for Emma.

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