The Three Most Important Amendments of Our Time

The US Constitution was written as a system of checks and balances, designed to protects us from each other and our own government. Critics attacked the proposed Constitution of the United States because it did not protect the rights of the people. The Anti-Federalists felt that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not provide adequate safeguards to protect the citizens from government interference in their everyday lives. The Federalists, in order to get the Constitution ratified, agreed to add a Bill of Rights to the Constitution when the new congress met.

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The First Congress proposed 12 amendments for the Constitution. Ten were accepted by the states and became known as the Bill of Rights. In today’s society, three of the most important amendments are the Second, Fourth and Eight Amendments. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America asserts, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. ” These words continue to generate controversy as part of the broader debate over gun control. With the growing number of gun related deaths in this country, many feel the need for stricter gun control policies.

In the earlier part of this year, due to the alarming number of police officers being killed in the line of duty by illegal handguns, the governor of Pennsylvania, Edward Rendell, in conjunction with the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, felt it necessary to ban assault weapons and other guns in the state. It was argued by National Rifle Association that a ban of this nature would be a violation of the Second Amendment, which in turn stopped the state from instituting the ban.

While stricter laws regarding gun control is necessary, it is important for the citizens of our country to be able to protect their person and property. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution was added to protect the citizens from the government performing “unreasonable searches and seizures”. Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the US government passed the USA PATRIOT Act, which allows the federal government to follow a suspected terrorist without notice or the agreement of a judge, even though the person may be innocent.

This amendment is still important in today’s society, for without it our government can look into our medical, phone, internet, student and library records, without showing or having any reasons that a person is engaged in criminal activity of any kind. While it could be argued that this is essential in ensuring the safety of our nation, there are aspects of the PATRIOT Act that violates the privacy of the citizens, which in turn violates democracy. Ever since the Eighth Amendment was ratified by the states in 1791, it has been a key part of our Constitution.

The Eighth Amendment protects the citizens of America against “cruel and unusual punishment”. It is, however, permissible under the Eighth Amendment to execute a convicted criminal by way of hanging, shooting, electrocution, and lethal gas. There is still some confusion as to what actually constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment”. An example would be if there was a malfunction with the equipment being used to kill the person, causing him to go through great pain and suffering before dying.

Or if the person lives and the method of killing him has to be administered again. This happened on May 4, 1990 in Florida. It took three attempts of 2,000-volt shocks in the electric chair to kill convicted murderer Jesse Tafero. This obviously would cause a person tremendous pain and suffering and would definitely fall under the category of cruel and unusual. While this is one of few cases where the death penalty is not effective on the first try, our country in present day has not been known to purposely inflict unnecessary forms of torture on convicted criminals.

The Second, Fourth and Eighth amendments to the US Constitution are still very important in today’s society. As times change, the need to recognize certain social rights, such as affordable housing and public healthcare should be granted to the citizens of our country. The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution provides us as a nation the ability to expand and further define our constitution, should the need arise. Without the Bill of Rights, the government is free to do whatever they feel necessary, without considering what may actually be in the best interest of the citizens of our country.


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