Reflection On Our Bill Of Rights

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt designated December 15 as Bill of Rights Day.  This is the day we recognize and commemorate the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which spell out our rights as citizens here in the United States of America.  That date was chosen because the Bill of Rights was originally ratified on Dec.15, 1791.  Our rights and freedoms as Americans are rooted in the Bill of Rights.  Unfortunately, many Americans do not fully appreciate or understand our Bill of Rights.  

Future President, James Madison of Virginia, was the primary author of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which are recognized today as our Bill of Rights.  The Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason, strongly influenced their writing. Other documents such as the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the English Bill of Rights, and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties are considered foundations to our Bill of Rights.  The Bill of Rights was written to provide mutual constitutional protection of individual liberties of our citizens, and to limit the power of the federal government.  

Regardless of personal political persuasion or affiliation, American citizens can unite around the Bill of Rights because it communicates our basic shared values.   President George W. Bush stated, “The true [American] revolution was not to defy one earthly power, but to declare principles that stand above every earthly power—the equality of each person before God, and the responsibility of government to secure the rights of all.”  President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to the Constitution as “the great American charter of personal liberty and human dignity.” 

Limiting the power of government and safeguarding the rights of our citizens is something we must all make a conscientious effort to protect.   We should be especially appreciative for the protection afforded in our Bill of Rights against a national government gaining ground against our most fundamental rights—freedom of speech, protest, and conscience guarantees our equal protection under the law.  A free society does not just occur. It has to be consciously devised and intentionally preserved. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. 

We invite all citizens and educators to celebrate Bill of Rights Day on December 15 and commemorate the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  It is critical to share the knowledge of the relevance and practicality gained through an understanding of the U.S. Constitution to the next generation. (1) 

The Bill of Rights
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 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 the witnesses against him; to have 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 reexamined 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. 

(1) We are glad to assist our educator members across the state in promoting awareness of the United States Constitution, through various partners and projects.  In addition, if you email our partners at the 917 Society ( they will provide copies of the US Constitutions free of charge to all 8th grade classrooms. 


J.C. Bowman is the executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville

Dressing The Wound

I seem to have plenty of Irish to go around for everybody on this panhandling issue. All sides seem to be unwilling or unable to get to the heart of the matter.  Panhandling is just one of many symptoms (outcomes) of the same condition. Chattanooga is waging a multi-front war on poor people, not an overstatement. We read a new news story going toward proving it at least ... (click for more)

Why Do Young White Males Feel The Need To Kill? - And Response

Over the last few years we have seen multiple instances of young, white males killing multiple innocent victims. It is a very clear spike in the demographic and it can't be merely coincidental. We always hear that it was a disenfranchised individual with deep rooted problems, after the fact, but we don't see the same with females or brown people.    When we hear that ... (click for more)

Alexander Says Chickamauga Lock Construction Fully Funded For 4th Consecutive Year

Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday said the government funding bill will fully fund construction of Chickamauga Lock for the fourth consecutive year, providing up to $78 million – which is more than twice the amount of funding the project received last year.   Senator Alexander said he has made completion of Chickamauga Lock one of his top priorities as chairman ... (click for more)

Former Juvenile Court Magistrate Says Gay Marriage Is "Nothing You Put In Air Quotes"

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court, who claims she was fired by Judge Rob Philyaw because she is openly gay, said Wednesday that gay marriage "is nothing you put in air quotes." She referred to County Attorney Rheubin Taylor asking her about her ceremony in marrying another woman and raising his hands to form quote marks. Elizabeth Gentzler is suing Hamilton County, Judge ... (click for more)

Keiser, Wigg Power Ooltewah Past East Hamilton, 9-5, in 5-3A Baseball

Frustrated by an early season hitting slump, Ooltewah left-fielder Payton Keiser broke loose with four hits, including a clutch three-run triple in a five-run seventh inning, and drove in five runs as the Owls beat rival East Hamilton, 9-5, Tuesday in District 5-3A action in horrible weather for baseball. Keiser had run-scoring singles in the second and fourth innings and ... (click for more)

Cleveland Rally Tops Walker Valley, 4-1

CHARLESTON, Tenn – Cleveland pitching ace Camden Sewell is used to the gaudy individual numbers and he rarely disappoints. Unfortunately, he has walked off the mound a few too many times in tough battles such as the one with Walker Valley  Tuesday  night without the one number he most cherishes.   That number being the one you put in the win column. ... (click for more)