THE BILL OF RIGHTS AND FURTHER AMENDMENTS

The New York Congress passed the Bill of Rights in 1789. It became ratified on December 15, 1791. It is the Fifth Article of the Constitution to permit amendments, for the legislation to meet varied circumstances in human lives.

 

The portfolio has a free poster and facsimiles of the original documents.
PORTFOLIO: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
 

In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced December 15 the Bill of Rights Day, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bill adoption.

 

The Bill of Rights, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are also called the Charters of Freedom. We can view the original documents online, at the National Archives, archives.gov.

 

Parts 3 and 4 of our Travel in Grammar expand on phrases and clauses. The Charters of Freedom are rich with those. As with the Constitution, we would not live in a house some 230 years old, without at least refreshing it a little.

 

The script below brings the Amendments to American English as it is today. It is not a correction: we do not bring in any evaluation battery or grammar book, to tell if there is anything wrong.
 

As with the Constitution, and in language assessment generally, we count an error only when the speaker or writer does not show language knowledge enough to be correct. All our update is “text-internal”: all usage comes from the originals, where the assumption that Congressional writers knew the Constitution is obviously not exaggerated. Feel welcome to the NOTES.

 

AMENDMENT I.

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.

 

AMENDMENT II.

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.

 

AMENDMENT III.

No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

 

AMENDMENT IV.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

AMENDMENT V.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

 

AMENDMENT VI.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with witnesses against him, to have the compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

 

AMENDMENT VII.

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.

 

AMENDMENT VIII.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

 

AMENDMENT IX.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

 

AMENDMENT X.

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.

 

AMENDMENT XI.

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.

 

AMENDMENT XII.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and all persons voted for as Vice President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.

 

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted.

 

The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President, whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case of death or other constitutional disability of the President.

 

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice President, shall be the Vice President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.

 

AMENDMENT XIII.

Sect. 1. Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XIV.

Sect. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

 

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

 

Sect. 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of Electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in a rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

 

Sect. 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or Elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an Executive or Judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to enemies thereof. But the Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

 

Sect. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing an insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of an insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for a loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations, and claims shall be held illegal and void.

 

Sect. 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

 

AMENDMENT XV.

Sect. 1. 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.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XVI.

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.

 

AMENDMENT XVII.

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.

 

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the Executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided that the Legislature of any State may empower the Executive thereof to make temporary appointments, until the people fill the vacancies by election as the Legislature may direct.

 

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

 

AMENDMENT XVIII.

Sect. 1. After one year from the ratification of this article, the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all the territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof, for beverage purposes, is hereby prohibited.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

Sect. 3. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XIX.

Sect. 1. 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 sex.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XX.

Sect. 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3rd day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3rd day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

 

Sect. 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President, until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may, by law, provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly, until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

 

Sect. 4. The Congress may, by law, provide for the case of death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President, whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President, whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

 

Sect. 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

 

Sect. 6. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, within seven years from the date of its submission.

 

AMENDMENT XXI.

Sect. 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

 

Sect. 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States, for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

 

Sect. 3. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XXII.

Sect. 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President, shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative, from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

 

Sect. 2. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several states, within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XXIII.

Sect. 1. The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

 

A number of Electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be Electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXIV.

Sect. 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for Electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged, by the United States or any State, by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXV.

Sect. 1. In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

 

Sect. 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President, who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

 

Sect. 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

 

Sect. 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the Executive departments, or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

 

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office, unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the Executive departments, or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days, to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose, if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

 

AMENDMENT XXVI.

Sect. 1. The right of citizens of the United States who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged, by the United States or by any State, on account of age.

 

Sect. 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXVII.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

 

NOTES TO THE AMENDMENTS

Legislation prescribes. The definite article, the, can have a prescriptive role in legislation.

 

AMENDMENT V.
… nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law.

Original: nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

 

The word process is countable in the American English of today, and court proceedings, on different cases, are independent and individual processes. Online, we can find phrases as the due process of law clause or the due process of law rights: the syntactic expansion, with the words clause or rights, allows the definite article, which is today simply natural in the place. We do not have to use the expansion, to use the article. We may compare Amendment VI.

 

AMENDMENT VI.
A. …to be confronted with witnesses against him; to have the compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Original: to be confronted with the witnesses against him.

 

Witnesses in favor are not a specified set of people, and witnesses against a person are not a prescribed group. Legal proceedings allow bringing in new witnesses, in favor as well as against a person, when the testimonies can be relevant. Today, evidence is more and more prominent, in reaching verdicts.

 

Support in the original: process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.

 

B. To have the compulsory process for obtaining witnesses.

Original: to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses.

Paraphrase: to have the compulsory process of obtaining witnesses.
Paraphrase: to have a (?) compulsory process of obtaining witnesses.

 

Generally, legal terms need to stand on their own. We could not paraphrase “the process of” as “a process of“, or “a process for“, to render legislation.

 

The compulsory process (the one in the context) is not to be just any compulsory process; similarly, counsel needs to meet requirements, to deserve the name of the legal assistance.

 

Support in originals: and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense;

In Amendment XIV: nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws;

In Amendment XVII: by election as the Legislature may direct (the definite article is not necessary, if we the law overtly prescribes the manner); we may compare the same Amendment:

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator…

 

We may also compare Amendment V and the phrasing, without just compensation. We might paraphrase it as without proper compensation, but not as *without the proper compensation, as the compensation value needs to correspond with property worth, and that, along with property seizure, cannot be predicted or prescribed in a free country.
 

AMENDMENT XII.
There has been much dispute over beginning sentences with words as and or but. In our writing, we can paraphrase:

 

The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed. If no person shall have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President: but in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one vote. A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. If the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case of death or other constitutional disability of the President.

 

Avoiding and or but, we may use words as more(over) or however. They are yet so closely synonymous then, that our grammatical rule would be boiling down to the number of letters we allow at sentence beginnings. Naturally, we cannot ban three-letter words. 🙂

 

If we resolve to use and or but at a sentence beginning, we can refer to the Constitution and Amendments, for patterns the conjunctions may make in human discourse.

 

AMENDMENT XIII.
Neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude, except…
Original: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except…

 

Slavery is outlawed, throughout the United States. Service may be imposed, by court verdict.

 

Let us mind that legislation has been put to writing in Congress, the discussion often continuing, and “slips of the pen” have happened. They do not decide the law: we can compare the Constitution parchment.

PARCHMENT PAGE 2 EXCERPT
PARCHMENT PAGE 2 EXCERPT, CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

AMENDMENT XIV
We may agree that humans are mostly male or female, but we could not aver that everyone is either a friend or a foe:
…when the right to vote is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State…
but
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress (…) who shall have engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to enemies thereof…
Original: or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof…
 

We can use the indefinite article for insurrections and rebellions as incidental phenomena.

 

AMENDMENT XX.
The Congress may, by law, provide for the case of death of any of the persons …
Original: The Congress may, by law, provide for the case of the death of any of the persons …

 

Death as cessation of living functions is the same for everyone.
Support in originals, in Amendment XII: as in the case of death or other constitutional disability of the President.

 

AMENDMENT XXV.
A Vice President to take the office with Congressional approval is a regular Vice President, not a special type of political function:
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President, who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Original: …a Vice President who shall take office…
 
We may paraphrase and compare amendment XXVI.
…citizens of the United States who are eighteen years of age or older,
means
these citizens of the United States, as differing in age from other citizens of the USA.
In Amendment XXV,
…a Vice President, who shall take office upon confirmation,
means
a regular Vice President, and not *this Vice President as differing from other Vice Presidents.

 

AMENDMENT XXVI.

The right of citizens of the United States who are eighteen years of age or older;

Original: The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older.

 

Age is not a qualification for a citizen, not only in the United States. 🙂
The comma would paraphrase as
United States citizens are eighteen years of age or older.

 

Support in originals, Amendment XXII: and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President

 

The use of the definite and indefinite articles is discussed with the Constitution. Generally and here, it is worth noting that reference for co-temporaneous focus may not require the definite article.
 

Amendment XXII.
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President, shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative, from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
 

Similarly, in Amendment XXV.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office, unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the Executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days, to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose, if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble…
Let us mind, the definite article can have senses as this, the one, hence if the Congress, within twenty-one days…

 

Examples as here strengthen me in my view that language is not a system, and grammar works more as a logical set that applies in context. I like the view and expand on it, in parts 3 and 4 of the Travel in Grammar. 🙂
 

We do not need to update the use of the item which, as it remains in linguistic distribution, and corresponds syntactically with the item who: feel welcome to my notes on the Constitution.
GRAMMAR WEB LOG: NOTES TO THE CONSTITUTION IN MODERN AMERICAN ENGLISH
 

We also may compare forum discussions.

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