The Constitution is the framework for the organization of the United States government

The Constitution is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the States, citizens, and all people within the United States. The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times, the last occurring in 1992. To assist in better understanding the Constitution, please answer the following question: Of the Constitutional amendments we are addressing in this class (Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth), which one is most important? Why? There is obviously no wrong answer, so your analysis in support of the amendment you choose is key.

Why is this week’s discussion so important? Sadly, a high percentage of Americans do not know basic information about the Constitution.

Here are some examples:

“What is the supreme law of the land?” Seventy-percent of the 1,000 citizens polled by Newsweek could not answer the “Constitution.”

Sixty-one percent didn’t know that the length of a U.S. senator’s term is six years, 63 percent couldn’t name the number of Supreme Court justices on the bench (nine), and 86 percent didn’t know that 435 members fill the U.S. House of Representatives.

And finally, fifty percent could not name an amendment to the Constitution, and twenty percent said the Constitution has never been amended.

Classmate 1 Richena: 1.All amendments in the Constitution are important but the most important amendment to me right now would have to be the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment has five different sections but section one is the upmost important. In section one, anyone born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and are citizens in the state where they reside (“Fourteenth Amendment”, 1886). No state shall make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (“Fourteenth Amendment”, 1886)

This amendment ensured that federal citizenship was also primary which meant states could no longer prevent free slaves from obtaining state citizenship. It later opened the doors for Native Americans to be granted citizenship with the Indian Citizenship Act which wasn’t automatically granted under the Fourteenth Amendment. After becoming a citizen, all rights and privileges that other citizens of the United States had were now granted to former slaves and Native Americans. Previously, In Scott v. Sanford, 60 U.S. 393(1857), the Supreme Court held that African Americans were not United States citizens, even if they were free and the Fourteenth Amendment overturned that decision. It also gave African Americans the right to be heard, given notice and be given a judicial decision. Although this amendment was created in 1866 and was granted in 1868; In 2021, many Americans are still fighting for civil and legal rights; after all these years, why is it necessary that some Americans have to tell fellow Americans, my life matters? We are all equal right? Letting someone know that I have the right to live just as you do shouldn’t even be a topic in todays society. Why was the crowd at the United States capital on January 6,2021 treated differently than the crowds at protests between May 30 and June 2, 2020? Since this pandemic started, Asian Americans and Chinese Americans have been attacked all over the United States and treated as if they aren’t American because a virus may have been started in a country where people that look like them call home.

2. This week discussion is important because its gives some of us the opportunity to find out what each amendment is, if we didn’t already know and it also allows us to see how far we have come as a country from when the amendment was first granted to today when we are discussing it. Many Americans don’t know any of the amendments and often confuse the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence. The numbers and percentages of people who don’t know about the Constitution or length of a senator’s term doesn’t surprise me. Majority of Americans that vote don’t even know who the person is they are voting for; they just see R and D or go by their name. If Americans truly knew who and what they were voting for, I don’t believe we would still have as many issues as we have today. We have the same holidays, year after year and the same days normally but Americans also don’t know the true meaning of Fourth of July, Christmas or Thanksgiving.

References

Fourteenth Amendment. (1886). Retrieved 10 March 2021, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fourteenth_amendment_0

The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (2021). Retrieved 10 March 2021, from https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constit…

Classmate 2 Chelsea: Each of the Constitutional Amendments seems equally important to define our liberties as Americans. But If I had to pick one that I think made the most impact, I think the 8th Amendment is the most important and meaningful among the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments. The 8th Amendment prohibits excessive fines and excessive bail as well as cruel and unusual punishment. This Amendment is important because it limits the punishments that the government can impose on a citizen. It does not harshly punish a person financially or physically.

The second phrase of the 8th Amendment is often difficult to interpret. First, it is commonly mistaken as “cruel or unusual” punishment, but the Amendment states “cruel and unusual” punishment. But what exactly is defined as “cruel and unusual”? And secondly, what is considered “excessive”? These terms have been defined by a ruling in Furman v. Georgia where it was determined that a punishment must not be “degrading to human dignity”, should not be arbitrary or rejected by society, or one that is clearly not necessary (Hamblen, 2019). The punishment must be proportionate to the crime and this is why there are sentencing guidelines and case law is often followed when determining a sentence.

I think this Amendment is so important because it ensures that everyone would face a similar sentence or be subject to a similar bail amount if they committed the same crime. It standardizes sentencings and does not allow for prejudices or biases to affect one’s sentence. It also protects human dignity. Torture is not legal as a punishment and human dignity will be upheld by the government. Punishments should always fit the crime and the 8th Amendment made it so that sentencing became more standard.

Hamblen, Katie (2019). 8th Amendment Limitations of Sentencing. Legal Match. available at:https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/8th-amendment-limitations-on-sentencing.html

Classmate 3 Alexcia: The most important amendment to the United States Constitution was amendment number eight. This amendment protects American citizens from excessive bail amounts or fines and most importantly it protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment. This is just as important now as when it was originally ratified in 1791. The eighth amendment was brought about because the United States was concerned that the Federal Government would use cruel and unusual techniques to oppress the people. “Abraham Holmes argued that Congress might repeat the abuses of “that diabolical institution, the Inquisition,” and start imposing torture on those convicted of federal crimes: “They are nowhere restrained from inventing the most cruel and unheard-of punishments, and annexing them to crimes; and there is no constitutional check on them, but that racks and gibbets may be amongst the most mild instruments of their discipline.”(Stevenson, B. n.d.) The people of early colonial America needed to amend the Constitution in order to ensure that this type of treatment would never happen to the American people. Many people fled to the United States in hopes of a new and more prosperous life. The United States became known as the “melting pot” because there were so many different cultures all living amongst one another. Everyone who came to the United States had a certain expectation of their new lives. One of those expectations was that they would not be treated with the same cruelty and disrespect as they had experienced in their home country. Types of tactics that were used include, boiling people in hot liquid until they died, rat torture, and Ling Chi.(Eldridge, A. n.d) That is one reason that this amendment is still important today. There are many different countries that still allow for cruel and unusual punishment today. The prevention of cruel and unusual punishment is important because it recognizes that each individual citizen is a human being. Regardless of if a crime has been committed, there is still a requirement to treat the person as a human being. The other aspects of the eighth amendment are equally important. Prevention of excessive bail amounts or fines allows for each individual, no matter race, sex, or stature, to have a fair bail or fine amount. This prevents judges from giving unjust bail amounts to individuals with no criminal history that would never be able to pay the amount of money. This portion of the amendment also prevents favoritism and bribery from influencing the amount they are supposed to pay for a fine or bail. If an individual has an extensive criminal history and is seen as a flight risk, then the amount of bail will be higher than the individual with no criminal history and ties to the community. In both instances it holds the judge or law enforcement official accountable to be fair and just. It prevents the judicial system from unfairly treating people based on their financial, political, or religious views. This country was created on the basis of equality and freedom. It is only fitting that one of the most important amendments to the United States Constitution protects its citizens from the reasons they left their homelands in the first place.

Eldridge, Alison. (n.d.) Cruel and unusual punishments: 15 types of torture. Britannica. Accessed 9 March 2021. https://www.britannica.com/list/cruel-and-unusual-punishments-15-types-of-torture

Stevenson, Bryan and Stinneford, John. (n.d.) The Eighth Amendment. National Constitution Center. Accessed 9 March 2021. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constit…

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