On this date in 1791, the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution were ratified.
For those of you who took a hit of blotter acid prior to civics class in high school, these are the ones that say what the government isn't allowed to do to you. These are rights, not priveleges. They're not granted by the government. We grant power to the government so that these rights can be safeguarded. Sometimes we forget that.
Here are all of the amendments to the constitution and my interpretation of them. This is a long one, but I think you'll like it. H/T to Wikipedia on this one.
Amendment # 1
The government can't force you to have religion, and the government can't force you not to express your religion. It's none of their business. You can say or print pretty much anything you want to and the government can't do much to stop you. This right will not, however, keep your ass from getting kicked due to what you say or print. We can all get together to do something as long as we're not hurting anyone, and we can complain to the government any time we want to when they screw up. Some people make a living doing this. What a country.
Amendment # 2
We have to defend ourselves, sometimes from the government itself, and the government can't take away our guns or stop us from getting them. And it's noone's business but my own what I have.
Amendment # 3
The government can't force me to put up and feed soldiers during peacetime, although I can pay for their beer if I want to, and during time of war, they have to actually pass a law forcing me to do this. But all they'd have to do is ask nicely, and I'll sleep on the couch so a couple of paratroopers can get a good nights sleep and a good breakfast.
Amendment # 4
Got a warrant? No? Then come back when you get one. Please put that thermal imaging system away. And thanks for being a cop.
Amendment # 5
The government can't just drag me into court. You have to convince people just like me that I've actually committed a crime. The government only get to try to throw my fat self into jail for doing something once. The government can't force me to testify against myself, and I'm not saying anything until my lawyer gets here. The government can't take my land to build a strip mall unless you actually pay me for it. And that better be a really nice strip mall.
Amendment # 6
The government has to let me have a lawyer. Hopefully one with a clue. The government can't throw me into jail for a few years before they get around to actually accusing and trying me. I can't be arrested in Kentucky and tried in Minnesota for something I did in New Mexico. I have to be told what I'm being accused of, and the government can't stop me from trying to prove that their witnesses aren't lousy stinking lieing rats who should be thrown in front of a truck.
Amendment # 7
We have to take our arguments to be decided by 12 people who couldn't get out of jury duty.
Amendment # 8
The government can't hold you on $2 million dollars bail for spitting on the sidewalk, and they can't fine you that $2 million for said spitting. As satisfying as flogging a child molester or hanging a multiple murderer up to his neck in pig droppings would be, some panty waisted loser would have his feelings hurt, and we can't have that.
Amendment # 9
Just because we didn't think of it in here, doesn't mean it's not a right. This must be where that right to choice is.
Amendment # 10
The federal government only gets those powers that are given to it in the Constitution. If it's not in here, they don't get it. All of that stuff goes to the states, or better yet, the actually people who pay taxes and keep the train rolling.
Amendment # 11
The Federal courts can't be used by anyone to sue a state unless the state agrees to participate. So you have to have their consent to try to sue them. Good luck with all that.
Amendment # 12
Way too long to put the text in here, but basically, we vote for electors, the electors vote for President and Vice President, and if you can't be President for some reason, you don't get to be Vice President. From the length of the amendment, you can see that the lawyers had already taken over by 1804.
Amendment # 13
You don't get to own other people. And the government can pass laws to make sure you don't. As a transplant to Kentucky, I can tell you there are a lot of people who either have a problem with this one, or haven't heard about it yet.
Amendment # 14
Again, the lawyers must have eaten their Wheaties when they wrote this one. Way too long, but they were trying to cover a lot of bases with one amendment. First, if you're born in the United States, you're a citizen, even if mama came across the border only to have you in the ER in San Diego. Second, every person in a state is counted as a whole human being when figuring out how many electors the states get for electing the President. No more math in figuring out what 3/5th's of a person is. Third, if you made an oath to the Confederacy, you don't get to be a part of the government. No kidding? You can't be an officer of a government you tried to overthrow? We actually had to write that down? Fourth, we're going to pay our debts, but I'll be damned if we'll pay off the debts of the Confederacy.
Amendment # 15
Ex slaves get to vote, and Congress can pass laws making sure they get to. We passed this on in 1870. Only took 80 or 90 years for this one to be enforced at all.
Amendment # 16
Congratulations, the government figured out a way to punish you for making more money than it takes to keep your family at the poverty level. And there's nothing you can do about it.
Amendment # 17
Another wordy one. We get to directly pick our Senators in an election, instead of the former manner, which involved something resembling the "Twit of the Year" contest.
Amendment # 18
Yet another one that was written by a committee. You can't be trusted to drink alcohol, so it's illegal. Everywhere. Unless you happen to be a Kennedy.
Amendment # 19
Women get the vote. Whoopee. Pants suits for everyone.
Amendment # 20
For the love of God, were they being paid by the word? The President and Vice President have to show up to work in January, and the Congress actually has to show up once a year.
Amendment # 21
18th Amendment? We don't need no stinking 18th Amendment! You have to believe in something, and I believe I'll have a beer.
Amendment # 22
You only get to be President for two terms. Not 4, just 2. No President for life. At least not again.
Amendment # 23
The District of Columbia gets to actually have someone represent them in the Presidential election. They just don't get a Senator or Congressman with an actual vote.
Amendment # 24
You can't be denied your right to vote because you can't pay a tax. You should have to pass an intelligence test, but we haven't passed that amendment yet.
Amendment # 25
The Vice President gets to be President if he bumps off the President.
Amendment # 26
18 year olds get to vote. Still can't buy a beer, but they can at least vote for the guys who keep them from drinking.
Amendment # 27
The accidental amendment. Proposed in 1789, ratified in 1992. If a Congressman votes himself another unearned raise, he has to go through another election cycle before he starts to rake it in. This one is also a monument to that great American motto "I'll get around to it".
So that's it. 27 amendments to the document that has governed the country since its founding. Not bad for a bunch of oppressors, or as we who actually deserve to be protected by the Constitution would call them, the illustrious geniuses who designed and founded our Republic.
Tam has a great post going on this one too. Check it out.