'Cause I Said So…

The “Bill of Rights” as a Top 10 List

Posted in History, The Constitution by kevinsoberg on April 13, 2010

Most people can name some of their Natural Rights enshrined in the Constitution by the First Congress in its first ten amendments, popularly known as the “Bill of Rights.” Usually, people can name, in some part, the First, Second, and Fifth Amendments. An additional number can tell you that we have the right to a speedy trial, the right to a warrant before our property is searched, and the right against “cruel and unusual punishment.” However, ask people about Amendments Nine and Ten, and all you’re likely to get is a blank stare.

I think I’ve finally figured out why this is the case. It’s the order and manner in which they are listed. Yeah, I know, it sounds silly, but that doesn’t make it implausible. Suspend disbelief for a moment and just consider it.

People are used to seeing a list of items and making value judgments of those items based solely on their placement on the list. Well, take a look at the Bill of Rights. Now, I don’t know the intentions of the First Congress as to the order in which these ten amendments are listed, given there were originally twelve amendments proposed. However, it is a list, and the two most important amendments, from a “rights” standpoint are placed at the end. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments may be given short-shift due to placement, and for no other reason.

If people view something a certain way, you can fight against their presumptions or you can adapt to them. So, here is my proposal for:

The Top Ten Constitutional Amendments in the “Bill of Rights”

10. Amendment Seven – Trial by Jury for Common Law Cases

9. Amendment Three – No Quartering of Soldiers

8. Amendment Eight – No Cruel and Unusual Punishment

7. Amendment Six – Speedy Criminal Trial and Confront Witnesses

6. Amendment Four – No Unreasonable Search and Seizure

5. Amendment Five – Due Process, No Double Jeopardy, and No Self-Witnessing

4. Amendment Two – Keep and Bear Arms

3. Amendment One – Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press and Peaceable Assembly

2. Amendment Ten – Powers Reserved to the States and the People

1. Amendment Nine – Unenumerated Rights Protected

Maybe this will draw attention to the “ignored” Amendments. Who knows?

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