Federal Bill of Rights (annotated with landmark criminal cases)
Excerpts from the United States Constitution
Current United States Supreme Court Justices
Bill of Rights from the Texas Constitution


Second Constitution created: September 17,1787 at the Philadelphia Convention  
Ratified by all states: June 21, 1788  Effective: March 4, 1789
Bill of Rights (First Ten Amendments) created:September 25, 1789  Ratified: December 15, 1791

First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (1), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of abridging the freedom of speech (1), or of the press (1); or the right of the people peaceably to assemble (1), and to petition (1) the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms (1District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 290 (2008) (1) (now applicable
to the states under McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010) (1) incorporating the Second
Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause) shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures (1), shall not be violated, and no Warrants (1) shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. [Selectively incorporated: Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961) (1)]

Fifth Amendment
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment (1) of a Grand Jury (1), (2) [Not selectively incorporated: Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516 (1884) (1); Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266 (1994)], except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy (1) [Selectively incorporated: Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784 (1969) (1)] of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself (1) [Selectively incorporated: Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1 (1964) (1)], nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law *  [ See Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 126 S. Ct. 2749 (2006) (1)- curbing President Bush's effort to violate due process by using illegal military commissions to try non-citizens for acts of terrorism] (1); nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment (1)
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy (1) [Selectively incorporated: Klopfer v. North Carolina, 386 U.S. 213 (1967) (1);United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307 (1971); Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972) (1)] and public trial (1) [Selectively incorporated: Gannett Co., Inc. v. DePasquale, 443 U.S. 368 (1979) (1)], by an impartial jury (1), (2) [Selectively incorporated: Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145 (1968) (1)] of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed [Selectively incorporated: Gannett Co. Inc. v. DePasquale, supra] of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted (1) with the witnesses against him [Selectively incorporated: Pointer v. Texas, 380 U.S. 400 (1965)], to have compulsory process  (1) [Selectively incorporated: Washington v. Texas, 388 U.S. 14 (1967); includes the right to cross-examine: Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308 (1974)] for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel (1), (2) [Selectively incorporated: Gideon v. Wainright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) (1)] for his defense.

Seventh Amendment
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 reexamined in any Court of the United States, then according to the rules of the common law.

Eighth Amendment
Excessive bail (1), (2) [No definitive ruling on whether protection from excessive bail applies to states, but see Schilb v. Kuebel, 404 U.S. 357 (1971) suggesting that the right is fundamental) shall not be required, nor excessive fines [Selectively incorporated: United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U.S. 321 (1998)] imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments (1) [Selectively incorporated: Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660(1962) (1); see also Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005) (1)] inflicted.

Ninth Amendment
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Thirteenth Amendment (RATIFIED EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 6, 1865)
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Fourteenth Amendment (RATIFIED EFFECTIVE JULY 9, 1868)
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State where they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ** Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937) (1); Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. 46 (1947) (1); Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165 (1952) (1);  Griswold v Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) (1); In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970) (1) & Ivan V. v. City of New York, 407 U.S. 203 (1972) (1) (requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged) nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws (1).
(Sections 2,3,4,and 5 omitted)

*  The Fifth Amendment due process clause applies in the federal system.
** The Fourteenth Amendment due process clause applies to the states.

"Selective Incorporation" of Bill of Rights Provisions: With minor exceptions, e.g., the Fifth Amendment right to indictment by a grand jury  See Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516 (1884), most of the protective guarantees of the Federal Bill of Rights have been extended by the United States Supreme Court to accused criminals in state court proceedings. Selective incorporation is accomplished by the Supreme Court finding that a particular provision is fundamental to the American scheme of justice and thus binding on the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Landmark cases from the United States Supreme Court, making the decision to incorporate or not, have been indicated above in the Bill of Rights.  This subject has more meaning for those who are familiar with the dual system of federal and state courts that exists under the concept of federalism. A good discussion of the concept of selective incorporation can be fond in Justice White's opinion in Duncan v. Louisiana. Much of the selective incorporation work was done during the so-called "Criminal Law Revolution" during the era of the Warren Court.

[Other Protections Within the Constitution: Be aware that the Bill of Rights is not the only source of constitutional rights. The body of the Constitution contains other protections, e.g., the prohibition against federal and state ex post facto (1) laws in Article I, Section 10, Clause 1, and the prohibition in Article I, Section 9, Clause 3, against the enactment of a Bill of Attainder (1) by federal or state legislative bodies. See excerpts from the Constitution below.]

[Antecedents of the U.S. Bill of Rights: See the Magna Carta (June 15, 1215) and
the English Bill of  Rights of 1689]


Excerpts from the United States Constitution (1)


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article I

Section 8 ...
[6] To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current coin
of the United States;
[10] To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the High Seas, and Offenses
against the Law of Nations
[18] To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9...
[2] The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public safety may require it.
[3] No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.

Section 10
[1] No State shall ......pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law ...

Article III

Section 2...
[3] The trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Section 3
[1] Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or, in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act or on confession in open Court.
[2] The Congress shall have the Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article IV

Section 2...
[2] A Person charged in any State with Treason, felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.   


[NOTE: These sites (1), (2), (3), (4 - superb site for American documents, born of mother Carrie - no relation to the Stephen King pimply-faced poltergeist), (5 - US and Confederate Constitutions side-by-side), (6 - federal constitutional rights very briefly explained) are worth a look for their historical documentation of American history. Check this site if you are interested in biographical sketches of justices who have served on the United States Supreme Court.
The American Constitution Society blawg is an excellent resource.
For a comparison of the Sixth Amendment protection against double jeopardy,
compare the common law concepts of autrefois convict and autrefois acquit.]

(Note that the first United States Constitution was the Articles of Confederation adopted by the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777. Ratification by all thirteen states occurred on March 1, 1781. The Articles created an extremely weak limited central government. The idea was to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the states. It didn't work well. Hence the second and present Constitution.)

We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.                                                                                      Justice Robert Jackson
                                                                                                  Brown v. Allen, 334 U.S. 443 (1953)
We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.
                                                                                           Justice Charles Evans Hughes (1)

United States Supreme Court Justices (Based on Seniority) (1) *
[NOTE: There have been 112 justices on  the USSC.  In the past seven years,  we have seen four new faces on the USSC.
Souter, who turned out to be a moderate progressive left the court in the summer of  '09. Though expressing interest in resigning in '05, Souter waited until after 2008 elections, thus, giving newly elected President Obama the right to name Souter's replacement, Sotomayor. If Souter had retired in '05, Bush2 would have named his replacement, and the conservatives (rightists) would have had total control over the Supreme Court during the waning years of the disastrous Bush2 presidency. The remaining three Bush1&2 appointees, Thomas, Roberts,and  Alito, are, along with Sotomayor and Kagan, the youngest members of the court. The former three are the most conservative (rightist). Progressive Ginsburg, 82, is ill).
I have put ages () in 2016 and labels on each currently sitting justice according to how I classify their history on the court.]

Anthony Kennedy  (81) - 1988 - Reagan  (preceded by Powell 1972) centrist to rightist
Clarence Thomas (69) - (1)(2) 1992 - Bush1  (preceded by Marshall 1967) far right originalist
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (84) - 1993 - Clinton  (preceded by White 1962) progressive
Stephen Breyer (79) - 1994 - Clinton   (preceded by Blackmun 1970) progressive
John Roberts (Chief) (63) - 2005 - Bush2  (preceded by Rehnquist 1986) rightist
Samuel Alito - (67) - 2006 - Bush2 (preceded by O'Connor 1981) rightist
Sonia Sotomayor  (63) - 2009 - Obama  (preceded by Souter 1990)  progressive
Elena Kagan - (57) 2010 - Obama (preceded by Stevens 1975) progressive
Neal M. Gorsuch (50) - 2017 - Trump (preceded by Scalia  - 1986) rightist

[* Note: Do yourself a favor, especially if you're a lawyer. Read The Nine, the 340-page, 2007 book by TV reporter Jeffrey Toobin, in some ways a grandiose narcissist. It's an easy read and available in paperback. Relying on interviews with the justices and more than seventy-five of their clerks, Toobin takes you inside the Supreme Court, explaining the internal battle for control between the conservative (rightist) and the progressive (liberal) factions. You'll learn about the justices, warts and all, e.g., one had a longstanding prescription drug problem severe enough that his questions from the bench were sometimes so slurred as to to be unintelligible (He kicked the addiction through rehab.); one performed the marriage ceremony for right-wing wag Rush Limbaugh's third marriage; the same one, the only justice to utilize a specific ideological litmus test in hiring clerks, employed former clerk John Yoo, of "torture memo" fame, (See Bullets 7) to vet applicants for the job. There are many juicy legal tidbits, e.g., "Under federal law, the justices can accept unlimited gifts from individuals who do not have cases before the Court, as long as the gifts are disclosed." Guess who got what?

There's information about the power of the evangelicals over some justices and the rise of The Federalist Society, a group of bright young right-wing lawyers who plotted to gain control of the court with the goal of overturning long established precedent, notably Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) (1A 1B 1C - text), a 7-2 decision holding that a woman's right to a consensual abortion was protected by the right to privacy flowing from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Roe gave a woman total autonomy over her pregnancy during the first trimester. See also Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). (Note: Scalia, Roberts and Alito are alums of The Federalist Society.) Toobin details the dismal failure of the Court as an institution and the justices as individuals in their handling and disposition of the case of Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) (1 - text of the 5-4 decision), the disputed presidential election contest that placed George W. Bush in the White House. About the disputed election, Toobin says, "... the justices displayed all their worst traits - among them vanity, overconfidence, impatience, arrogance, and simple political partisanship."  We are left to wonder if the Bush2 addition of Roberts and Alito to the Court signals victory for the rightists. The Nine makes clear that "one factor - and one factor only - will determine the future of the Supreme Court: the outcome of presidential elections."

As a matter of religious interest, note that the Court, as presently composed, has six Catholics and three Jews,
no Protestant, Muslim, agnostic or atheist members. Five of the justices graduated from Harvard Law School,
three from Yale, and one who attended Yale but graduated from Columbia Law School. Diversity?

For an example of a recent pro-big business, corporate oligarchy decision by the Supreme Court rightists (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy) that would appear to spell the end of government of, by and for the people, see the 2010 opinion in Citizen's United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010) holding government restriction on corporate spending for political campaigns violates the right of free speech. (1-Wiki). See also American Tradition Partnership, Inc., FKA Western Tradition Partnership, Inc., et al. v. Steven Bullock, Attorney General of Montana, et al.,  567 U.S. __ (2012) using the First Amendment freedom of speech to strike down a Montana state law providing that a “corporation may not make . . . an expenditure in connection with a candidate or
a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.” Citizen's United overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990) and, in the process, freed the way for the corporate complex to propagandize the citizenry with political ads under the banner of unlimited free speech for incorporated groups. The majority opinion written by Kennedy, but with pro-big business Roberts' fingerprints all over it, said, "Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker's corporate identity." Contrast that pro-corporation view with these words of Thomas Jefferson: “I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country.” Echoing Jefferson, Justice Stevens stated in dissent that the ruling in Citizen's United "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation." Those who disagree with the Citizens United decision may want to consider signing a petition for a constitutional amendment negating the unlimited power of incorporated groups to contribute to political candidates and to influence legislation in a society where money buys results in Congress.

Even more potentially invidious is the low visibility threat to justice in the court systems
of states (thirty-nine) where judges are elected. If the typical state supreme court contains nine justices/judges, $195,000,000 would allow a political contribution of $1m each to five justices/judges (a ruling majority) on the supreme court of each of those thirty-nine states. Can the fealty of some state appellate judges be obtained by corporations for "filthy lucre" in the form of political contributions? And can honest candidates, with the public interest at heart, be ruined by corporate sponsored attack ads?  Does Uncle Ben still sell rice?

We members of the public have a way of remembering the dirt and forgetting the source of the ads.
It's called "the sleeper effect."
[Note:See http://www.movetoamend.org   Constitutional amendments require 2/3rds of both houses
of Congress and 3/4ths of the States.]

[Note: By a slim majority, the USSC did say that West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Brent Benjamin, who had received a $3 million "campaign contribution" from a coal magnate should have recused himself when a case involving the coal magnate's company Massey arrived before his court; incidentally, Benjamin cast the deciding vote in favor of Massey. See Caperton, et al. v. A.T.Massey Coal Co., Inc, 556 U.S. 868 (2009) (1). See videos in sidebar to your right.

[Note: Associate Justices of the Supreme Court make $213,900 a year; Judge Judy makes $45 million a year. (1)
Is this fair? (1)(2)]

On April 2, 2014, the USSC strengthened the stranglehold of the wealthy oligarchy over the political processes of the country with its decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, holding that  because aggregate limits restricting how much money a donor may contribute to candidates for federal office, political parties, and political action committees do not further the government’s interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption or the appearance of such corruption, while at the same time seriously restricting participation in the democratic process, they are invalid under the First Amendment. The court's decision makes if possible for individuals to funnel over five million dollars into elections every two years. (the old limit being $123,000). This is viewed by some as another giant step toward marginalizing ordinary American citizens by putting them on the sidelines when it comes to electing politicians such as the US Congress, the best men and women that money can buy.

Remember the words of Justice Louis Brandeis:
"We can have a democracy in this country or we can have great wealth
concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."




[Note: Article I of the Texas Constitution contains a Bill of Rights. Below, I have included
a few of the key rights enjoyed by those living in Texas or just passing through.]


Section 9. No Unreasonable Seizures and Searches Allowed. - The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions from all unreasonable seizures or searches, and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue without describing them as near as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.

Section 10. Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases. - In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have a speedy public trial by an impartial jury. He shall have the right to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof. He shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself  and shall have the right of being heard by himself or counsel,or both; shall be confronted by the witnesses against him and shall have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, except that when the witness resides out of State and the offense charged is a violation of any of the antitrust laws of this State, the defendant and the State shall have the right to produce and have the evidence admitted by deposition, under such rules and laws as the Legislature may hereafter provide; and no person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense, unless on an indictment of a grand jury, except in cases in which the punishment is by fine or imprisonment , otherwise than in the penitentiary; in cases of impeachment and in cases arising in the army or navy, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.

Section 13. Excessive Bail and Fine and Unusual Punishment Prohibited; Courts Open. - Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted. All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done to him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have a remedy by due course of law. [On the issue of denying bail in Texas, see Tx. Const. Art I, Sections 11 and 11A.
Regarding the specifics of bail and the procedures, see Chapter 17 C.C.P]

Section 14. No Person Shall Be Put Twice in Jeopardy. - No person, for the same offense, shall be twice put in jeopardy of life or liberty, nor shall a person be again put on trial for the same offense after a verdict of not guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Section 16. There Shall Be No Bill of Attainder or ex Post Facto Laws. - No bill of attainder or ex post facto law, retroactive law, or any other law impairing the obligation of contracts.

Section 18. No Imprisonment for Debt. - No person shall ever be imprisoned for debt.

Section 19. Due Course of Law. - No citizen of this State shall be deprived of life, liberty, property, privileges or immunities, or in any manner disfranchised, except by the due course of law of the land.

Section 29. "Bill of Rights" Inviolate. - To guard against transgressions of the high powers being delegated, we declare that everything in this "Bill of Rights" is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate, and all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provision shall be void.

[Scope of protection afforded under state constitutions vis a vis the United States Constitution: The United States Supreme Court determines the minimum level of constitutionally protected rights that accused persons have in the criminal justice system (federal and state court proceedings) throughout the United States. It is is important to know that the supreme courts of the individual states may each choose to grant greater protection in their state courts to the criminal defendant by interpreting protective provisions of their state constitutions more liberally than the United States Supreme Court. In most instances, state courts construe the level of protection as coextensive with that protected by the Federal Constitution, but this is not always true.]   

Note: Many of the individual rights contained in Article 1 of the Texas Constitution are also contained in Chapter 1 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, e.g., due course of law, right to counsel, searches and seizures, right to bail, habeas corpus, cruelty prohibited, jeopardy, right to jury, liberty of speech and press, public trial, confrontation by witnesses, etc. Be sure to consult the TCCP when such rights are at issue. If you are objecting to a violation, cite the relevant federal and /or state constitutional provision, as well as the applicable statute.




CCJA's Guide to the Federal and Texas
Other Individual Freedoms

copyright © 2001 Ray Moses
all rights reserved


I am the inferior of any man whose rights I trample underfoot.
Horace Greeley

The American Bill of Rights - Abraham Lincoln called it "the golden apple
within the Constitution's picture of silver."

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and
ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.
The Federalist, No. 51 - James Madison (1788)

A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on Earth... and what no just government should refuse.
Thomas Jefferson in a Letter to James Madison, Paris, Dec. 20, 1787
[T]he Constitution entitles a criminal defendant to a fair trial, not a perfect one.
Delaware v. Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673 (1986)

It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have
frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people.
Justice Frankfurter, dissenting in United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56 (1950)



- Citizen's United discussed -
Is the bottom out of the tub?


Citizen's United - Can we look forward to the best government that corporations can buy?


Background on WVA Justice Benjamin and Massey Coal


Supreme Court Justices -
Here are Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, and Thomas, along with the popular Ruth Bader  Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer
(1) (2), Sonia Sotomayor plus the retired Sandra O'Connor first woman on the USSC(1)(2) and Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.



Noam Chomsky (1) on
the ability of the government and corporate America to propagandize the citizenry.


Those who ae interested in the philosophy of government may find it useful to read
John Locke's Second Treatise of Government (1690)

George Carlin
The late lamented philosopher  with his own view of human rights.

The Story of Citizen's United
A layperson's explanation

If you are sick and tired of being ruled by the corporate oligarchy, check out
Move to Amend