Breaking Down the Bill of Rights Graphic Organizer
Guiding Questions: How does the Bill of Rights protect individual liberties and limit the power of government? How is this seen in our everyday lives?
- I can identify the first 10 amendments to the Constitution and the rights protected.
- I can explain how the Bill of Rights protects individual liberties and limits the power of the government.
- I can evaluate the impact of the Bill of Rights on my own life.
Directions: The Bill of Rights was meant to protect individual rights and limit the government’s power. Think of this as two sides of one coin: As an individual, you are protected in certain ways. On the other side, the government is limited in the power it holds over you. For each amendment, fill in the organizer below. For the final column, you may use an image or text to provide an example. If you use an image, be sure to provide a caption like the example does.
|taking of property
|legal documents authorizing searches
|due process of law
|requirement that legal proceedings be just and proper
|English law that comes from custom or court rulings
|Amendments in the Bill of Rights
|In My Own Words, What Rights Are Protected?
|This Limits the Government’s Power Because:
|An Example of This in Real Life Would Be:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging [limiting] 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 [remedy] of grievances.
|The government cannot silence me or the press, nor can it prevent me from worshipping (or not worshipping) any faith of my choosing. If the government has done something that I think must be fixed, it must allow me to peaceably gather and protest.
|Students protesting gun violence in schools
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 [limited].
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered [housed] in any house, without the consent of the Owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures [taking of property], shall not be violated, and no Warrants [legal documents authorizing searches] shall issue, but upon probable cause.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment [formal charge] charge or accusation of a crime of a Grand Jury, . . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law [requirement that legal proceedings be just and proper]; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury . . . and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence
In Suits at common law [English law that comes from custom or court rulings], 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 common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration [listing] in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated [given] to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
After completing your organizer, answer the following questions:
- Do any of the amendments seem more relevant to your life today than others? Explain.
- The Bill of Rights is largely a list of things the federal government cannot do. Do you think it is more important to express what cannot be done or what can be done? Explain.
- On March 15, 1789, in a letter to James Madison concerning the Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can.”
Based on this quote and your work in the activity, what do you think Jefferson thought about a bill of rights? How does Jefferson’s letter reflect the importance of the virtues of compromise and moderation in a democratic system?
- Think back to the Life Without the Bill of Rights game. Which right(s) seemed most important after playing the game? Has your opinion changed after completing this organizer?
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The Creation of the Bill of Rights
How does the Bill of Rights protect individual liberties and limit the power of government? How is this seen in our everyday lives?