What Are the First 10 Amendments to the Constitution?


Quick Answer

The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. They were drafted by James Madison, who later became the fourth president, in 1789 and ratified on Dec. 15, 1791.

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What Are the First 10 Amendments to the Constitution?
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Full Answer

Many consider the Bill of Rights as the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution. The first amendment grants the right to free speech and also includes the freedom to choose and practice a religion, freedom of press and the right of citizens to peaceably assemble and petition the government for grievances. The second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, and the third prohibits the quartering of soldiers in private homes without the owner's consent.

The fourth amendment provides citizens with protection from unreasonable search and seizures and dictates the requirements for probable cause to attain a warrant for any searches. The fifth outlines citizen's rights in criminal cases, and the sixth ensures that everyone has the right to a fair trial.

The seventh outlines people's rights in civil cases, and the eighth prohibits excessive bails and fines as well as cruel and unusual punishments. The ninth amendment clarifies that all rights are retained by individuals and no rights given by the constitution can be used to take other rights away.

The last amendment of the Bill of Rights sets out states' rights and says that any powers not delegated or prohibited by the constitution belong to the individual states.

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