constitution » Constitutional Amendments Constitution- Constitution Law, US Constitution, The Constitution, Constitutional Law Thu, 02 Feb 2017 18:20:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Understanding the 18th Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:46 +0000 Understanding the 18th Amendment

The Eighteenth Amendment is the only Amendment to ever have been repealed from the United States Constitution–via the inclusion of the Twenty-First Amendment. The 18th Amendment called for the banning of the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages. Known as national Prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment banned “intoxicating liquors” with the exception of those used for religious rites.

It is also the first Amendment to impose a date by which it was to be ratified. If the deadline was not met, the Amendment would be discarded. The ratification of the 18th Amendment was completed on January 16th, 1919 and would take effect on January 17th, 1920. 

It is important to note that the 18th Amendment did not prohibit the consumption of alcohol, but rather simply the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. A result of the Temperance Movement, the concept of Prohibition had already been implemented by many states prior to the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment. Therefore, the 18th Amendment was quickly ratified into law.

The Temperance Movement would prove to become a powerful collection of individuals and factions that would garner a certain political power, which many politicians were afraid to confront. Church groups, the business elite, feminists, and political reformers were moving toward a dry society and began to call for a nation-wide law banning alcoholic substances.

Initially, Senators were against a Prohibition movement, but were also reluctant to vehemently vote against it. That is why a deadline was included within the proposal for the Eighteenth Amendment, calling for the ratification to be completed within seven years. However, this provision would not prove to be effective, for forty-four states approved the 18th Amendment in just over a year’s time from its introduction.

The reluctance of the political powers also was reflected in imposing the effect of the Eighteenth Amendment a year from the completion of the ratification process. They did so in order to provide the liquor industry some time to adjust to what would essentially decimate the industry for the following ten years. 

The implications of the 18th Amendment proved to be more negative than positive, for the effects took a turn for the worse rather than providing for a “dry” utopia. It was during the Prohibition Era that gave rise to organized crime in the United States, where criminals began to find illegal means to provide for the demand for alcohol. The creation of the mafia and mobsters led to a period of violence that would make the Government evaluate which was the greatest of two evils: alcohol or organized crime factions.

The Volstead Act, a bill that was introduced to provide for definition of terms used in the Eighteenth Amendment was passed on January 17th, 1920, after Congress overrode the veto by President Wilson. The Volstead Act defined an intoxicating liquor as any beverage containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol. Beer and wine would also be banned as a result, which led to much controversy as well.

Further provisions would be enacted as a result of the Eighteenth Amendment, such as the restriction of medicinal liquor prescriptions, allowing searches without warrants in automobiles, and wiretapping of telephones for surveillance of illegal alcohol activity. It was not until 1933, when the overall effects of the 18th Amendment would prove to be more negative than positive, that the 21st Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment completely and removed from Constitutional law. 

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Understanding the 19th Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:46 +0000 Understanding the 19th Amendment

The Nineteenth Amendment is another Amendment to the United States Constitution that was implemented in order to provide for a guarantee of civil rights to all citizens of the United States. In the vein of the Fifteenth Amendment, the Nineteenth Amendment would call for the prohibition of the state and Federal governments to deny a citizen the right to vote due the citizen's sex. It would take fifty years for women to obtain that right which was granted to free men in 1870 by virtue of the Fifteenth Amendment. The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920. 

The Nineteenth Amendment states, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this Article by appropriate legislation." Though the Women's Rights Movement for Suffrage was already underway in previous years, it would not be until the adoption of the 19th Amendment in which they would ultimately reach success.

Women suffrage can be traced back to 1848 to the "Declaration of Sentiments" delivered in Seneca Falls, NY, which would be the first Woman's Rights Convention held in the United States. Women suffragists sought their inclusion in recognition of voting rights provided by the Fifteenth Amendment, but evidently did not make a strong enough case for universal suffrage. It would be in 1878, where the Constitutional Amendment, including what is now Section I of the Nineteenth Amendment, would be proposed.

Congress would hear the inclusion of this Amendment in every session for the next 41 years until it was finally approved.  However, it is not to say that certain states did not grant women the right vote. The inclusion of Wyoming as a state in 1890 in turn made the new State of Wyoming the first state allowing women the vote. Other states, such as Colorado, Utah, and Idaho would also follow suit in years to come. 

On the national level, support for women suffrage would arrive at its most successful step to date on January 9th, 1918, when President Woodrow Wilson announced his support for what would eventually become the 19th Amendment. The bill was voted on the following day, in which the House of Representatives managed to pass the Amendment, but the Senate would eventually vote on it in October of the same year and fail to pass it by three votes. It would finally get voted on once again in 1920, when Harry Burns would provide the necessary vote for the State of Tennessee to become the 36th State necessary to pass the Nineteenth Amendment into law.

It was quite the controversial move on Burns' part, considering that it was primarily the southern states of the U.S. that were most adamantly opposed to the 19th Amendment. However, the Nineteenth Amendment and its ratification would prove to be one of the most important changes in the history of the United States, further expanding the protection of civil rights for all citizens. 

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Understanding the 20th Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:46 +0000 Understanding the 20th Amendment

The Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution addresses the terms of elected Federal officials, including the President, Vice-President, and members of Congress. Specifically, it defines the actual dates on which those terms begin and end. The 20th Amendment also provides for guidelines to be followed in the scenario that there is no President-elect. The Twentieth Amendment was ratified into the U.S. Constitution on January 23, 1933. 

Of the Amendments to the Constitution, it is of particular interest that the terms of elected Federal officials remained unchanged or unrevised until 1933, when the Twentieth Amendment was ratified. It provides for important provisions that, at first glance, seem to have been crucial enough to be addressed in earlier times.

The Twentieth Amendment is divided into six sections, with the first four containing the substance of the proposed changes in legislature. The first section details that the terms of the President and Vice President are to end at noon on January 20th, and at noon on January 3rd for Senators and Representatives. The terms for the President and Vice President are a length of four years, while members of Congress retain their positions for a period of six years.

The Second Section mandates that Congress is to meet at least once a year, with the one meeting being on noon of the 3rd of January, which would be the first meeting with new Congress members in the event of the start of a new term.

The situation arising of no President-elect is addressed in Section Three of the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution. If the President-elect dies before the term begins on the specified date, the Vice President-elect is to become President. This situation also applies if the President-elect has been chosen by the beginning of the term or if the President fails to qualify. In the extenuating circumstance that both the President and Vice President-elect fail to qualify, Congress is allowed by law to declare who is to become President until a President or Vice President qualifies for office. In the case that a person from the House of Representatives dies who has the responsibility to choose a President, and similarly for the person in the Senate choosing a Vice President, then Congress is allowed by law to undertake such responsibilities.

Finally, Sections Five and Six provide for a date on which the first two sections are to be enacted, 15th of October after the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment. The Amendment itself would have a period of seven years in which must be ratified; otherwise, it would be discarded. 

The Amendments to the Constitution regarding the terms of elected Federal officials changed the date on which a term was to begin, which was originally March 4th, four months after the actual elections were held. The implemented date was a consideration for the new officials in providing for ample time to move to the nation's capital. However, in modern times, this lapse in time would prove to be a hindrance rather than a positive consideration. Furthermore, Congressmen who were elected prior to the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would not actually enter office until over a year after their election. The lapse in time would produce what are referred to "lame duck" sessions held by Congress, which were unproductive and obsolete.

Particularly importance instances which marked the need for the Twentieth Amendment were the secession of the Southern states and the Great Depression, in which the new elected officials would have to wait four months before they could address these serious concerns.

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Understanding the 21st Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:46 +0000 Understanding the 21st Amendment

The 21st Amendment is the only one introduced that would completely repeal another Amendment, the 18th Amendment. The Eighteenth Amendment implemented a national ban on alcoholic or "intoxicating" substances, which was commonly referred to as Prohibition. The 21st Amendment would call for the prohibition repeal, which would no longer prohibit the sale, manufacture, or transportation of alcoholic beverages. The 21st Amendment was ratified on December 5th, 1933 and was the only Amendment to be ratified by state ratifying conventions rather by state legislature, which would mark the prohibition repeal. 

It is clear that the 21st Amendment was a result of the failed prohibition of alcohol in the United States. Though consumption generally declined, organized crime and crime rates soared to levels never experienced by Americans before. Prohibition only applied to the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, but not actual consumption. Even though this would make alcohol extremely difficult to obtain, there would be those that would find illegal means to get their hands on alcohol and ample opportunity existed to derive a profit from such practice.

Bootleggers, speakeasies, and the rise of organized crime all were birthed as a reaction to the 18th Amendment. Criminals, such as notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone, would become millionaires and a general lawlessness would proliferate in the United States. Many would simply ignore the provisions set forth by Prohibition. Corruption was common among law enforcement and drinking would become a symbol of rebelliousness, which heightened its appeal. It became apparent that Prohibition, though a noble attempt and experiment, generally brought on more negative impacts than any positive gains to be brought from reducing the consumption of alcohol. 

The apparent need to reverse Prohibition became the general sentiment of the country. However, its overturning would prove to be more complicated because of the political power the Temperance Movement had garnered through lobbying. Congress would then have to employ one of two methods for ratifying Constitutional Amendments, which had never been used before. Normally, ratification by State legislature was the avenue taken for Amendment ratification, requiring the approval of three-fourths of the states.

The other method, as provided by the United States Constitution, is by State conventions. State conventions abide by a loose ratification process, which is similar to that of the "one-state, one-vote" national referendum.  The 21sth Amendment would be the only Amendment to the United States Constitution to be ratified using this method. 

The overturning of Prohibition would, therefore, delegate responsibility of regulating alcohol laws to the states. Even though the 21st Amendment was approved, several states continued to follow the doctrine of Prohibition. For example, Missouri would remain alcohol-free until 1966, while Kansas did not allow public bars until 1987. Some states go as far as allowing counties and/or municipalities to impose their own regulations regarding alcoholic beverages. The interpretation of the provisions in the second section of the 21st Amendment allowed for the states to maintain the right to control alcoholic beverages.

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Understanding the 22nd Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:46 +0000 Understanding the 22nd Amendment

Similar to the 20th Amendment, the 22nd Amendment outlines the term length of the President, specifically addressing the issue of how many terms an elected President may seek. Congress passed the 22nd Amendment on March 21st, 1947, and the Amendment process was completed when it was ratified on February 27th, 1951 by the necessary number of states. 

The 22nd Amendment strictly limits that the Presidential Office shall not be held by a person more than two times. The provision also holds that any person holding the position of President for more than two years of any given term cannot be elected to the office of President more than once.

The 22nd Amendment has roots as far back as the first President of the United States, George Washington. Washington limited his Presidency to only two terms, as well as did Thomas Jefferson. However, prior to the 22nd Amendment, there was no actual legislation in place restricting the amount of terms for which a President could be eligible. The Fathers of the Constitution simply implemented that a term would last four years. Their belief was a reliance on the people and the Electoral College and belief that a third term would be prevented based on these factors.

The restriction of two terms of Presidency simply became a respected standard and was adhered to until Franklin D. Roosevelt chose to run for a third term in 1940. Roosevelt even became elected for a fourth term in 1944, but died in office in 1945. Many cite the United States' future involvement in World War II as a reason that FDR was elected for a third term. However, Roosevelt was not the only one to seek a third term, but rather the only President to have served more than two terms. Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt both sought the office of President for more than two terms, but were unsuccessful.

The 22nd Amendment first applied to Dwight D. Eisenhower and he believed that running for a third term would essentially undermine the power that the Presidential Office would have in the world of politics. However, many have tried to repeal the Twenty-Second Amendment and have managed to introduce into the Amendment process certain bills and proposals either completely removing the two-term limit, or revising it to bar more than two consecutive terms. Since the ratification of the 22nd Amendment, there have only been three presidents who were eligible for a second term. Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush only served one term, and current President Barack Obama is also eligible, this current term being only his first.

Under the 22nd Amendment, the only President that would have been eligible to serve more than two terms would be Lyndon B. Johnson. LBJ became President as a result of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and served the remainder of his term which totaled fourteen months. Under the 22nd Amendment provisions, he did not exceed the two year restriction and would have been eligible to run and be elected in 1968. He was elected in 1964 as President after serving the remainder of JFK's term. 

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Understanding the 16th Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:45 +0000 Understanding the 16th Amendment

The Sixteenth Amendment provided for a uniform law regarding the collection of income tax on the national level. The introduction and passage of the Sixteenth Amendment would prove to be crucial, impacting the financial growth and economic standing of the United States.

The main concept of the Sixteenth Amendment is that under the new legislation, Congress would not need to apportion an income tax among the states or have it based upon the numbers produced by the Census. The Sixteenth Amendment would revise the previous Constitutional provisions regarding direct taxes and except income taxes on rent, interests, and dividends from those requirements as a result of the Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. in 1895. The Sixteenth Amendment would be ratified on February 3rd, 1913.

The Sixteenth Amendment reads, "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." The new legislation created for Congress' right to impose a Federal income tax, which was the subject of much change and, at times, confusion prior to the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment.

The first income tax was imposed as a result of the Civil War, which was introduced in 1861. It consisted of a three-percent flat tax on incomes greater than $800. This would be changed a year later to introduce a graduated tax ranging from three to five percent on incomes over $600. All income taxes were considered to be indirect taxes and were imposed according to geographic uniformity. Direct taxes were required to be apportioned according to the population of the states.

Prior to the Sixteenth Amendment, the income tax system was an issue of dispute between farmers and those involved in industrial professions. The argument was that the low prices set upon for their farm products and the requirement to pay high prices for manufactured goods and products was unfair. Many farmers would form coalitions and organizations to introduce their tax platforms, consisting of a graduated income. 

The Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. case would declare that some income taxes were unconstitutional because they were not apportioned direct taxes. The case would determine that the source of income would be used in order to classify whether the income was direct or indirect, and thus, allowing for the definition of what kind of income tax would be levied. Income taxes on wages were not to be apportioned by the population numbers, while those on interests, dividends and rent were.

The growing dispute prior to the case reflected the sentiment of the Government protecting industrial and financial markets by protecting the economic elite created by Industrialization. The Sixteenth Amendment would finally address and solve the dispute as to how income was to be taxed and under what determinations such income tax is to be considered to be properly enacted and enforced.  

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Understanding the 17th Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:45 +0000 Understanding the 17th Amendment

The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution is one that determines the manner or system in which United States Senators are to be appointed. It also provided for a term length for Senators, as well as procedures to be considered in the event that a State has a vacancy in the Senate.

The 17th Amendment was proposed in May 13th, 1912, with Connecticut being the last state needed to complete the ratification process for Constitutional Amendments on April 8th, 1913. From that date forward, all United States Senators would be appointed through a direct election by popular vote. 

The 17th Amendment proposes that the Senate will be composed of two Senators from each state. Each Senator is to hold the position for a term of six years. Each Senator of a state will have one vote. In the case that a vacancy in the Senate in any state arises, the governor or executive authority of that state has the right to fill the vacancy by appointing a replacement through a popular vote.

Prior to the 17th Amendment, a governor had the authority to appoint a replacement of his choosing on an immediate basis. The appointed official would have to meet the requirements for such office and would only serve until the next legislature would meet. One of the reasons that the 17th Amendment was adopted as one of the Constitutional Amendments is in direct relation to vacancies in the Senate existing for long periods of time. The election of Senators would often be deadlocked due to different parties holding control over the different Houses and their political interests would be a matter of conflict.

Prior to the popular vote election system, Senators would be appointed, and thus, several situations arose where officials would be appointed through the influence of outside factors, such as industries and financial interest groups, and investigations of bribery and corruption were a concern. Therefore, it became more apparent that Senators should be elected by the general populace of the State. 

Before it became one of the Constitutional Amendments, the concept of Senator elections through a popular vote was being implemented by certain states. The "Oregon System" referred to the practice of states using their primary elections as a way to elect the citizen's choice for a Senator position. More and more states would adopt this system as their choice for the election of Senators. However, investigations regarding the election of an Illinois Senator through unlawful practices made it clear that only Constitutional Amendments would solve this growing concern.

By 1910, almost two-thirds of the United States had implemented the practice of Senatorial elections through popular vote which, under Article V of the United States Constitution, allows for creation of a convention to proposed Amendments, pressuring Congress to propose an Amendment. 

Although the 17th Amendment has proven to be one of the more successful Constitutional Amendments, it has been much disputed in recent years, with some factions even calling for its total repeal. Some politicians believe that the 17th Amendment gives too much power and authority to the United States Congress, allowing for special interests groups to influence the direct election of Senators.

Another key reason many oppose the 17th Amendment is due to the fact that 46 of the 50 states allow for the governor to appoint a replacement in the Senate due to a vacancy. Even though the replacement is subject to be removed because an election is to be held, some may hold the position until the next general election is to be held. As of 2009, a bill was proposed to amend the power of governors to appoint Senators by repealing the clause entirely. 

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Understanding the 6th Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:45 +0000 Understanding the 6th Amendment

The Sixth Amendment sets forth provisions regarding criminal prosecutions. It grants certain rights to the accused in order to ensure a fair and just trial and verdict rendering. Because under United States law an individual is "innocent until proven guilty", it is important for those facing accusations or allegations of a crime to be provided with specific rights.

The Sixth Amendment provides for six distinct rights under its provisions:

1)         Speedy Trial

2)         Public Trial

3)         Impartial Jury

4)         Notice of Accusation

5)         Confrontation

6)         Counsel.

A speedy trial is a right to a defendant in criminal court proceedings. A speedy trial is defined by certain categories in order to provide that such a right has not been violated in any way. If a trial is to be delayed, the length of delay will come into question. Though there is no set time limit imposed from the day the defendant is brought into custody or indictment occurs, if the trial delay lasts over a year, it is considered as "presumptively prejudicial" and deemed a violation of Sixth Amendment rights, thus necessitating an acquittal.

The delay is also subject to the requirement that a just reason be provided, such as the prosecution delaying trial in order to provide and secure for witnesses or evidence for their case. However, the delay must be considered reasonable and may be subject to the length of deal provision. If a defendant agrees or coincides with the decision for a delay, which is beneficial to his/her case, the defendant cannot at a later time claim a violation of 6th Amendment rights. If the delay has caused any kind of prejudice that may prove to affect the court's decision, a violation may be claimed. 

The defendant has the right to a public trial, but the right is not always granted in cases where a public trial can effectively affect the outcome of the court's decision. If a public trial can be proven to affect due process, such right may not be granted to the defendant. In certain instances, a closed trial may be in order at the request of either the defendant or the courts, with the court having the final decision on the matter. It must be proven that public trial will affect the defendant's right to a fair trial and such publicity has the propensity of creating prejudice against the defendant.

An impartial jury is an important aspect considered under the 6th Amendment, for it ensures a defendant's right to a fair trial and due process. Juries must be free of bias, and both sides of the litigation may question possible jurors for the case in order to determine if any prejudice or bias exists. A jury must also represent an appropriate cross-section of the community to further ensure that no bias is to be found among them.

Before a defendant is brought to trial, he/she has the right to be completely informed on the nature of the accusations, as well as all of the actions committed that have led to such allegations. The defendant must be informed of all actions allegedly committed in a precise and accurate manner. This is also a protection under the Double Jeopardy Fifth Amendment Clause. A defendant has the right to know all aspects regarding the charges and accusations so that double jeopardy can be implemented in the case that the defendant is tried for same crime in the event of being acquitted.

Confrontation refers to the defense having the right to cross-examine witnesses in order to prevent hearsay as admission for consideration in the rendering of the court decision or verdict. The defendant must have the opportunity to challenge the credibility of the witness. This clause also includes the defendant's right to provide for witnesses in his/her favor in order to aid their case. The presentation of evidence is also included under the right for cross-examination to determine validity and overall meaning to its pertinence to the case.

A defendant has the right to be represented by an attorney under the Sixth Amendment in order to ensure that the defense is equally knowledgeable and skilled in law. If the defendant does not have the economical means to hire a private attorney, he/she has the right to be provided one by the courts in the form of a public defense. However, the defendant has the right to waive this clause of the 6th Amendment, for Self-representation is also a right granted under this Amendment.  

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Understanding the 7th Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:45 +0000 Understanding the 7th Amendment

The 7th Amendment under the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution gives an individual the right to a jury trial. The 7th Amendment is quite similar to the provisions held in the 6th Amendment regarding jury trials. However, the 7th Amendment deals with jury trials for common law suits. The Seventh Amendment states, "In Suits at common law, 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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law." 

The text itself reflects much of the times in which it was drafted, for it can be considered that no individual will bring to suit any situation regarding a dispute over twenty dollars. Surely, that amount was more valuable than it is today, and any situation involving at least twenty dollars warranted the right to a jury trial.

The 7th Amendment ensures that citizens have to right to have a court–whether a common law or civil law court–hear their case on the Federal level by a jury consisting of their peers. 

The 7th Amendment was included in the Constitution in order for all court disputes to render decisions by a jury, without having a judge's bias sway their decision or influence the jury trial in anyway. The provision creates for a distinction between the responsibilities of a judge and those of the jury in a Federal civil court. Judges hold their positions simply to evaluate evidence in terms of its legal consideration in the jury trial, provide for guidance and instruction to the jury, and provide for advice on the actual law. A jury is responsible for evaluating evidence in terms of how it affects a verdict, and determine which side, the plaintiff or the defendant, has proven without a reasonable doubt the facts of their case.  In certain cases, a jury may also have the power to decide the amounts to be awarded to the victor in a jury trial.

Though judges do have a role in the actual outcome of jury trial, they are restricted in their participation. They have the authority to instruct the jury to mind a particular aspect of evidence presented or require that certain questions be answered before rendering a verdict. Because the judge has the responsibility of determining whether or not evidence is valid for consideration under law, and if a plaintiff's evidence is invalid or insufficient, the judge may instruct the jury to render a verdict to the defendant, as is allowed by law. 

The 7th Amendment also exists as a check against judges from overstepping their boundaries because of their positions of power. The judge does not have the authority to tell the jury how to rule or render a verdict in any case. Furthermore, the judge cannot persuade the jury to reach a certain decision.

Though a judge and a jury will work together in a jury trial case, their responsibilities are separate from each other. The 7th Amendment was included by using as a precursor English civil and common law and the documented history of corruption displayed in prior times. It was not uncommon that judges would often render a decision that would most benefit the King or their own will. The right to a jury trial and the distinction of the roles of a judge and jury outlined the inherent responsibilities of those positions and any kind of action biased in nature by either of those in such roles would be unconstitutional. 

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Understanding the 8th Amendment Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:48:45 +0000 Understanding the 8th Amendment

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States serves to protect those found guilty of crimes from being treated unfairly and in an unlawful manner. The Eighth Amendment reads, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." 

Eighth Amendment rights include three distinct clauses that provide for certain rights to individuals convicted of a crime. Like many of the Amendments under the Bill of Rights, the inclusion of the Eighth Amendment has precedence in English Law. Much of the reason for inclusion of the Eighth Amendment is due to a particular case in England, where a man was sentenced to imprisonment, which also included whipping and being put to the stocks for two days. This individual, Titus Oates, was found guilty of committing perjury, a common and ordinary crime that would not warrant such punishment. Eventually, "cruel and unusual punishment" would be barred by the English Parliament in 1689, four years after the Oates ordeal. 

The Eighth Amendment would not only include the outlawing of excessive and cruel punishment, but would also provide for unfair and excessive bail and fines to be implemented on an individual. The excessive bail clause limits the power of the courts of set bail for an accused or alleged criminal during arrest before the trial is to commence.

Bail refers to the amount of money that an accused individual must present as collateral for their guaranteed appearance at the set court date for the criminal proceedings. After the result of the case, regardless of the verdict rendered, the accused has the right to retrieve the amount that was given. If the accused individual, however, fails to appear in court on the set date and time, the defendant will lose or forfeit the amount of money given and may face further charges for not being present in court on the imposed date.

The amount of bail for an accused person is determined by a number of factors:

          The severity of the alleged crime;

          The weight of evidence against the defendant;

          The moral character proven by the defendant, such as conduct with the family or occupation, as well as involvement in the community;

          The ability of the defendant to pay a certain amount;

          Whether or not the defendant will flee or not meet the court date if released on bail.

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