Legal Studies for Kids: The Bill of Rights
Authored by LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor, , Attorney at Law

Legal Studies for Kids: The Bill of Rights

When you hear about the Bill of Rights, you may think that it’s full of difficult to understand terms. Well, you are right. There are certainly a lot of big and complicated words in the Bill of Rights. Yet, you have to learn about it because it protects your rights as an American. Let’s start by taking a look at its history.

The Bill of Rights refers to the first 10 amendments of US Constitution. In 1789, James Madison presented a series of legislative articles which were known as Constitutional Amendments. On September 25, 1789, the US Congress proposed 12 amendments of the Constitution to the state legislatures. The first two proposed amendments were not approved. Articles 3-12 were properly approved so they became the first ten amendments. They were approved by three-fourths of state legislatures.

The Bill of Rights is very important because it gives all Americans the right to live as free individuals. After the US Constitution was drafted, its opponents debated that the Constitution would leave the door open for tyranny by the federal government. Before and during the Revolution, the British had violated the civil rights of the people. The Revolution would not hold much meaning if the Constitution did not consider the privileges of individual citizens of the United States. They outlined a legal process to protect the rights of the individual citizen. The result was the Bill of Rights.

Amendment 1: The Congress shall not make law which doesn’t allow free exercise of religion, freedom of press or speech or right to assemble peacefully, and claim justice against any grievances. In America, you have the right to speak freely, choose your religion, assemble peacefully, publish freely, and petition the government.

Amendment 2: To ensure state security, citizens have the right to keep arms. The amendment protects the rights of Americans to carry guns and other firearms.

Amendment 3: During peace, a soldier cannot ask for shelter in any home without the owner’s consent. Homeowners cannot be forced to feed and house soldiers.

Amendment 4: There shall not be violation of the people’s right to be safe in their houses against house searches which are unreasonable. The government has no right to take your possessions without a valid warrant with good reason.

Amendment 5: No citizen can be made compelled to answer for a capital crime other than cases of public danger or war. The amendment protects the rights of the individual so there are no two trials for the same crime and private property which has been taken has to be compensated. You cannot be forced to testify against yourself.

Amendment 6: The accused has a right of public trial. You have the right to confront witnesses and you must be allowed to get legal assistance.

Amendment 7: In cases where controversy of common law exceeds $ 20, there will be the right to a trial by jury in the federal civil court.

Amendment 8: There shall not be a requirement for excessive bail, cruel punishment or excessive fines. This amendment ensures that trials are fair.

Amendment 9: For those rights which are not included in the Bill of Rights, it does not mean that they can be violated.

Amendment 10: All powers that are not delegated by the US Constitution shall be reserved to the states or the people.

Additional Resources/Activities

After reading all about the Bill of Rights, you may want to learn more about it. There are many fun games and activities that can help you understand the Bill of Rights more deeply. Check them out below!