The Future of the Bill of Rights

The 1st Amendment

    Since the beginning of the Bill of Rights, the people of the U.S. have developed different ideas and beliefs as a nation. U.S. citizens, in general, have become more accepting and tolerant and will continue to grow stronger as a nation. People will continue to stand up for their rights. Nevertheless, the First Amendment's freedoms are not limited and may come under greater restriction in the future. Lawsuits against libel and slander continue to bring in massive damage awards, and the Supreme Court may restrict campaign contributions in spite of the view that contributions constitute free speech.

The 2nd Amendment

    Since this amendment involves the usage of weapons, it may be affected the rising crime rates in America. As the crime rates rise, Americans may be more willing to give up their guns so that criminals would have less access to them. However, some Americans may feel that these same weapons will give them protection against criminals. There is not a good chance that the federal or state government will try to ban the sale or possession of these weapons completely. However, there is a possibility that the national legislation may ban the possession of long guns by city dwellers. After each episode of mass murder in the United States such as Columbine High School in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007, the debate over gun control heats up.

The 3rd Amendment

    There is not much of a future to this amendment. The Treaty of Paris put an end to housing soldiers. But it can be used to argue against government intrusion into private homes and the right to privacy much the way the Fourth Amendment does.

The 4th Amendment

There is a good chance that we may not be in danger of unreasonable search and seizure. the    government has been increasingly willing to engage in warrantless searches in the name of national security, especially after the September 11 attacks of 2001.  This amendment has been extended to the zone of privacy of the automobile, DNA testing, and blood tests. When applied strictly, this
amendment gives fairness and justice to all by protecting privacy and sanctity of the home and person.

The 5th Amendment Since there are so many parts to this amendment, there could be a big future ahead for the 5th

    Grand Jury Changes: It is possible that lawyers will be allowed to advise witnesses while they are being questioned. Judges will possibly have a more active part in trial proceedings. Records will be kept of  what occurs during the proceedings. In addition,  more legal assistance may be given to defendants during the legal process.

    There may be an amendment to modify the current 5th Amendment.

 U.S. Military: The number of court cases involving the U.S. Military may increase. With war atrocities committed by US military personnel in Iraq, and with the capture of "enemy combatants" after the 9/11 attacks, the Fifth Amendment will receive new attention.

 Double Jeopardy: The court may start to respond more to the plaintiff (prosecution) and not so
 much towards the defense. (Double Jeopardy seems to get older and older.) Cases such as the O.J. Simpson verdict of not guilty in spite of overwhelming evidence will test the double jeopardy rule to its limits. 

Self-Incrimination: New guidelines (after the Miranda warnings) may be developed, especially regarding young people.

 Due Process of Law: The clarity of the government's laws may be in question. The U.S. law demands plain English and ethical question. For example, abortion will be an issue that will probably last for years to come.

Eminent Domain: Property rights involving state police power and zoning are issues that probably will not change too much over the few years.

The 6th Amendment  What the future of the 6th could bring:

Speedy and Public Trials: The media sometimes has a tendency of distorting the views of court
cases. This could make getting defendants to trial early more important.

Impartial Juries: Lawyers may have the right to disqualify a certain number of jurors (for whatever
reason). These jurors could possibly be impartial.

State and District Courts: Many cases involving more than one state could become federal.

It is possible that issues may involve (false) testimonies of undercover agents and young children.

The right to call witnesses: A "Witness Protection Program" (for witnesses possibly in danger) has been established. (Witnesses could change their identities.) The Courts may have to balance witnesses'

Juvenile rights: The rights of children may be the same as those of adults.

The 7th Amendment

This amendment will probably stand up to questions involving justice. The nature of the jury (with new cases coming up) may change. Reform in tort law may make lawsuits more difficult to bring to trial, and damages are being reduced. lawsuits against medical practitioners is one target for those who feel frivolous lawsuits have diluted the intention of the Founding Fathers to have civil cases tried by a jury.

The 8th Amendment

The 8th will be there to protect the defendant for years to come. The question that is central to the Eighth Amendment is: what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment? The death penalty has been outlawed in Western Europe and other industrialized nations, but the US still carries it in most of the fifty states. Illinois instituted a moratorium on the death penalty earlier in the decade to determine if it was being applied fairly across racial lines. The electric chair is being phased out, with the lethal injection replacing it as a more humane method of execution. In the future, new, more painless, and quicker methods of execution are bound to replace the lethal injection, making the death penalty a viable punishment for the worst crimes for the foreseeable future.

The 9th Amendment

This amendment is likely to play an important role in the understanding of the Bill of
Rights. As people attempt to claim new rights and liberties, there may be changing needs
in society that should be met. It seems somewhat unlikely that the 9th Amendment will be used in the near future to expand the protection of unenumerated rights. One important issue is that of privacy, which includes reproductive rights. In 2007, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to pro-abortion forces, overturning a case that refused to ban "partial birth abortions. With Justice Sam Alito on the bench replacing Sandra Day O'Connor, and with the leadership of conservative Chief justice John Roberts, both appointed by Republican President George Bush, the Supreme Court's ideological approach will continue to be conservative for a number of decades to come.

The 10th Amendment

Commonly the Federal Government has been known as the main guardian of citizens' rights. Today, however, it seems to be the State Governments that are protecting their peoples' rights. The Supreme Court seems to be taking a more conservative, more narrow point of view when it comes to individual  rights.





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