What Is the Seventh Amendment and What Is Its Meaning?

The Seventh Amendment gives citizens the right to have a jury trial in certain federal civil cases and prevents courts from overturning the decision of a jury. The amendment was proposed in 1789 by James Madison.

The Seventh Amendment allows for a jury trial in matters that involve damages of more than $20. The civil suit has to be legal in nature. For instance, a dispute alleging discrimination by an employer could qualify for protection under the amendment. To win the case, the plaintiff must prove the case by a preponderance of evidence. The protections afforded by the amendment do not extend to the state courts, as stated by the National Constitution Center. Some states have taken the action of voluntarily allowing plaintiffs to bring lawsuits forward in civil court that meet the $20 requirement.

The Seventh Amendment does not provide protections for plaintiffs seeking to bring lawsuits against the federal government. It also does not cover lawsuits that involve maritime law or relate to proceedings that involve the deportation of aliens. The amendment does not note how many jurors have to be on a jury. The jury size could be as small as six people. Regardless of the size of the jury, the decision they reach must be unanimous, as stated by U.S. Legal, Inc.