Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Constitution and You... (or having fun with Civics).

I covered the concept of citizenship in one of my classes last week. During the discussion, I was surprised to find out that many of them did not know the content of the amendments to the US Constitution.

These are good students at a fairly reputable university, yet they only had vague ideas of what rights and responsibilities are outlined in this document. I admit, so of the amendments are excellent cures for insomnia, but so many of our freedoms are guaranteed by this document (and how it is read and interpreted by the courts). I feel we, as citizens (and I use that term broadly to include all who live in this country), need to be aware of what the document says and how it can be interpreted (and misinterpreted).

So I will post some of the ones I feel are important over the next days. I will spread them out so you have the oportunity to:


Then think about them, what rights and responsibilities are outlines, and how the language can be used/misused to deny you those rights.

So here we go, 1 and 2:

*First Amendment:
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.

*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.

People tend to know these two. The ambiguity of the language is what causes problems with these two. It is easy to read them in multiple ways. In any case, I am not here to tell you my reading of them. I just want you to think about what your interpretations are.


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