Well I’m back, did you miss me? I’m sure you are all wondering where I’ve been so I will tell you. My wife and I spent the last week in Chicago and Wisconsin on a much-needed vacation. I’ll fill you in on the details of that later but right now it is time for me to wrap up my Bill of Rights series. The last four amendments (7 thru 10) are relatively short so I will summarize them for you; remember now, do not take my word for it, you can research them yourself for a more in-depth look. Here we go!
First, let’s list the last four amendments below; they are:
7. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
10. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The Seventh Amendment’s basic intent was to make a line of distinction between what a judge does in civil court and what a jury does in civil court. Judges can instruct juries and determine what can be heard legally in court. Juries can hear the evidence, weigh the relevance of each piece of evidence and decide if a lawsuit is viable, and can determine the amounts awarded in most suits (i.e. - damages, emotional suffering, etc.) in civil court.
The Eighth Amendment is probably one of the most abused amendments in the courts today. Death penalty opponents routinely invoke this amendment because they believe the death penalty falls under cruel and unusual punishment. The excessive bail portion is also sometimes abused by defendants who want to run away rather than face prosecution. Again, these are just my opinions; you will have to look them up for yourself to get the entire meaning of each amendment.
The Ninth Amendment is, to me, the most vague and hard to interpret of all the amendments. This amendment was brought about in response to fears that other rights of the people could be restricted since they were not explicitly outlined in the Bill of Rights. Actually it goes much deeper than that but at the time, certain rights such as the right to travel or the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty were the concerns of the day so this amendment was added to the Bill of Rights.
The Tenth Amendment is arguably the most abused of all. This amendment granted the individual states the right to self-govern, meaning the Federal government should not be able to force the states to do its bidding. One does not need to look very hard to see the abuse this amendment has taken over the years. Despite history revisionists’ attempts to teach the Civil War was all about slavery, the facts were and are clear. The Southern states asserted the Fed was overriding their Tenth Amendment rights and each voted to secede from the Union in protest. Thus the Civil War began and later, the brutality and cruelty the Union used to force the South back into the Union became the foundation for the Fed’s ongoing weakening of the authority of the Tenth Amendment.
Now, before anybody decides to excoriate me on my opinions it should be reinforced here that this solely MY opinion. If you are not sure my opinion is accurate, please research the Bill of Rights and come back here to straighten me out. If your opinion is different from mine feel free to voice your opposition. Remember though, if you wish to tell me I am wrong or misguided in my interpretation, you must be able to refute my opinion with FACT. Shouldn’t be too hard, huh? Later we will discuss other differences in opinion of the Bill of Rights such as the differing definition of “the people” in the First and Second Amendments. Should be fun!