Prof. T. Daniel. Browning
Pima Community College
March 5, 2013
“I plead the 5th!” That phrase is heard from the mouths of children as well as adults. It has become a cliché. Children learn early in life what the phrase means and how and when to use it. They use it as a tool to keep themselves out of trouble or to keep from having to tattle on a sibling or friend. As children advance in their education, they study American history and are surprised to find that phrase comes from a very old document that the founding fathers of our country drafted and set into place as an integral part of our government’s system of law. That document is called the “Bill of Rights”. The statement, “I plead the 5th” is a reference to the Fifth Amendment from that document in which a citizen is protected by law from self-incrimination.
There are now 27 amendments to the U. S. constitution, but the first 10 are collectively called the Bill of Rights. James Madison who was part of the very first Congress led the charge in drafting The Bill of Rights in 1789, and the amendments officially became law in 1791. They were established to protect the American citizens against certain interferences from the federal government. (The Bill of Rights, 2012) A summary of these inalienable rights or guarantees is listed below. 1. Guarantees the freedom of speech, religion, press, and peaceful assembly 2. Guarantees the right to keep and bear arms
3. Guarantees the right to not be forced by the government to house and feed soldiers in peacetime 4. Guarantees the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of our homes, our bodies, or our property, conducted by government officials 5. Guarantees the right to indictment by grand jury, to due process of law, and prohibits compulsory self-incrimination and double jeopardy 6. Guarantees the right to a speedy trial, and to be represented by a...