Article I: Bill of Rights

Note on Article I: Bill of Rights

[Before the Constitution of 1787 was adopted, citizens in many states stipulated that their agreement to this Constitution was dependent upon the adoption of a Bill of Rights, which became the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. In Constitution II, these rights are built into the Constitution II itself. Further, certain other rights of all persons, of American citizens, and of states deserve to be spelled out before Constitution II is adopted. Due to the preeminent importance of these constitutional protections, it makes sense to state them in Article I.]

Section 1: Introduction to the Bill of Rights

1.1 This U.S. Constitution II establishes rights of natural persons, of citizens, and of states. The federal government and the several states may also recognize rights of other legal entities, such as corporations, partnerships, trusts, charities, and benevolent associations; but such rights are not constitutionally guaranteed.[1]

1.2 The federal government may delegate any of its powers to the several states. A collection of states may delegate any of their powers to the federal government. A collection of states may also create a public agency to jointly execute certain state powers, and may request the federal government to participate or support such public agencies, but without ceding those powers to the federal government.[2]

1.3 The enumeration in this Constitution II of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. [3]

1.4 The powers not delegated to the United States by this Constitution II, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.[4]

Section 2: Bill of Rights of Natural Persons

2.1 Equality of All Natural Persons[5]

All natural persons are created equal, and are born with certain inalienable rights, and among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

2.2 Freedom of Religion, Press, and Expression[6]

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

2.3 Freedom from Discrimination[7]

Discrimination against any person on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation is prohibited.

Discrimination against any person on the basis of age, between ages 40 and 70, is prohibited.[8]

2.4 Prohibition of Slavery[9]

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to its[10] jurisdiction.

2.5 Prohibition on Cruel and Unusual Punishments and on Torture

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.[11]

The United States does not practice or tolerate the use of torture. The intentional infliction of extreme pain upon any person for the purpose of obtaining information, for punishment, or for any other purpose, is prohibited.[12]

Section 3: Bill of Rights of Citizens[13]

3.1 Definition of Citizens[14]

The United States recognizes two categories of American citizens: a natural-born citizen and a naturalized citizen:

  • A natural-born citizen is any person
    • Who was born within the United States, its territories, or possessions, or
    • Whose biological mother or father was an American citizen at the time of the child’s birth. To retain natural-born citizenship under this provision after one’s 21st birthday, a natural-born citizen not born in the United States must notify the Secretary of State of the United States, between his/her 18th and 21st birthdays, of his/her intent to remain an American citizen.
  • A naturalized citizen is any person who becomes an American citizen in accordance with the federal law regulating the naturalization process.
  • With the sole exception of eligibility to hold the office of President of the United States, which requires the President to be a natural-born citizen, no distinction shall be made between natural-born and naturalized citizens.
  • No government has the power to take American citizenship away from any American citizen.

3.2 Right to Bear Arms[15]

For reasons of personal safety, hunting, and/or recreation, a citizen has the right to keep and bear personal weapons, including firearms appropriate to such purposes.

3.3 Quartering of Soldiers[16]

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

3.4 Search and Seizure[17]

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; and no warrants 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. This provision includes the right to privacy.[18]

3.5 Trial and Punishment; Compensation for Takings[19]

No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, 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 of life or limb; nor shall any person be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation. No citizen shall be forced to surrender private property for private gain; the principle and legal process of eminent domain shall only be used to serve a demonstrated public need, and any private property gained through eminent domain shall become public property in perpetuity.[20]

3.6 Right to Speedy Trial; Confrontation of Witnesses; Assistance of Counsel[21]

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law. The accused shall enjoy the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

3.7 Trial by Jury in Civil Cases[22]

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed $1000, 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 other than according to the rules of the common law.

3.8 Healthcare, Education, and Necessities of Life[23]

Citizens of all ages have a right to basic healthcare, including physicians, hospitals, medicines, medical devices, reproductive services, and mental healthn services.

Citizens have a right to tax-supported public education.

Citizens have a right to the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, and shelter – sufficient to prevent death from starvation and exposure to the elements.

The citizen rights in Section 3.8 shall be provided by the state in which each citizen resides.

3.9 Equal Protection of the Laws[24]

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge 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.

3.10 Voting rights[25]

All citizens who have attained the age of 18 are eligible to vote in all federal and state elections and in the state in which they reside, provided that a state may temporarily disenfranchise a citizen, on a case by case basis, for reasons of mental deficiency or because, at the time of an election, the citizen is incarcerated due to a felony conviction.

Section 4: Bill of Rights of States

4.1 Voluntary Union of states

  • The United States of America is a voluntary union of those states which have ratified this Constitution II and have therefore agreed to join the Union and be subject to its jurisdiction.[26]
  • In addition to the 50 states in the Union under the 1787 Constitution, the District of Columbia and the Territory of Puerto Rico also each have the right to voluntarily join the Union under this Constitution II, if approved by a majority vote of their citizens, held within 5 years following submission of this Constitution II to the people and states.[27]
  • New states may be admitted by the Congress into this Union. However, no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state, nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states or parts of states, without the consent of the voters and legislatures of the states concerned as well as of Congress.[28]

4.2 Secession[29]

Any state may, by a two-thirds vote of its citizens and its legislature, give notice of its intention to secede from the Union. If approved by two-thirds of the people in a second plebiscite, held not less than five nor more than seven years after the initial notice to separate is given, then that state shall notify the Secretary of State of the United States of its decision to secede. That state and the United States will then have three years in which to negotiate the terms and conditions of their separation, after which that state will no longer be a part of the Union.

4.3 Each State to Honor All Others[30]

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

4.4 State Citizens, Extradition[31]

The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

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.

4.5 Republican Government[32]

The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against invasion and, on application of the legislature or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence.

4.6 State Militia[33]

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of each state to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

4.7 State Legislative Preference[34]

A state statute takes precedence over a federal statute within that state, provided that the state statute

  • Does not conflict with this Constitution II,
  • Addresses matters wholly within the state’s jurisdiction,
  • Does not adversely affect other states or citizens of other states, and
  • Is approved by a two-thirds majority of that state’s voters in a referendum on that statute, which includes the assertion that the state statute is in conflict with a federal statute but complies with all elements of this provision.

[1] This provision clarifies that Constitution II guarantees the rights of persons, citizens, and states, but not of corporations or other legal entities – whose rights may be recognized by law, but are not guaranteed by this Constitution II. (By the way, the 1787 Constitution also does not mention corporations, free markets, or capitalism. It mentions private property only once: This occurs in Amendment 5 in the clause concerning eminent domain.)

[2] This notion of federalism has existed in practice for many years; this provision makes it explicit in this Constitution II.

[3] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 9.

[4] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 10.

[5] This fundamental idea, taken from the American Declaration of Independence (1776) and also incorporated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), deserves to be a bedrock principle of Constitution II.

[6] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 1.

[7] This paragraph enshrines in Constitution II the basic civil liberties of the last 50 years of civil rights legislation and judicial decisions.

[8] Certain laws may require a minimum age for performing certain activities, such as signing a contract, driving a car or boat or airplane, getting married, and holding public office. Other laws may mandate a retirement age. But any laws dealing with age must not discriminate between the ages of 40 and 70.

[9] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 13.

[10] The 1787 Constitution used the word “their” rather than “its” because, up until the Civil War, “United States” was a plural noun; since Reconstruction, “United States” became a singular noun. The United States is treated as a singular noun in Constitution II.

[11] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 8.

[12] Based on all available medical and scientific evidence, torture is ineffective in producing operational intelligence, and its use as punishment has long been outlawed by the 1787 Constitution. This provision incorporates into Constitution II both American law and international conventions on the absolute prohibition of the use of torture, especially the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols of 1977, treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory.

[13] American citizens enjoy certain rights, over and above the rights of all persons who come under American jurisdiction. This section spells out those additional rights, starting with a definition of American citizenship.

[14] American citizenship was not explicitly defined in the 1787 Constitution. Article I Section 3.1 of this Constitution II provides clarity on this matter.

[15] Adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 2. This version of the Second Amendment ensures that an individual citizen may own a weapon, but may be prohibited by law from owning a nuclear weapon, warship, fighter jet, fully automatic machine gun, and other military-grade weapons.

[16] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 3.

[17] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 4, except for the final sentence, in italics.

[18] A right to privacy is inferred by the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 4, and has been so interpreted by the Supreme Court. Adding it to this provision in Constitution II makes this right explicit rather than implicit.

[19] Copied from Amendment 5, except for the final sentence, in italics.

[20] Both conservatives and liberals, from time to time, have condemned the abuse of eminent domain. This provision states clearly that eminent domain may only be used to acquire or protect a public benefit.

[21] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 6.

[22] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 7. However, the amount has been raised from $20 to $1000.

[23] Article I Section 3.8 guarantees to every citizen the most basic necessities of life. It enshrines in Constitution II the actual, concrete meaning of the Declaration of Independence statement about everyone’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It also provides a constitutional basis for all of our social support programs – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ healthcare, and ACA (or whatever replaces it).

[24] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 14.

[25] Prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, and religion are adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Amendments 1, 15, 24 and 26. Prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and of sexual orientation are based on Supreme Court decisions that in turn depended on those constitutional provisions.

[26] The idea of a voluntary union is implied by the 1787 Constitution; this provision makes it explicit.

[27] This new provision is another attempt to empower citizens of the USA – in this case, citizens of two jurisdictions who have been treated as second-class citizens for many decades. Under Constitution II, DC will lose its three Electoral Votes unless it chooses to become a state, and both DC and Puerto Rico can claim their full rights as states if they so choose. By the way, there is some precedent for including this type of provision in our foundational document: The Articles of Confederation included a provision allowing Canada to join the Confederation if it wanted to do so.

[28] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV Section 3, with the addition of a voice for voters (in italics).

[29] Just as the USA is a voluntary union of the citizens of states that have joined, it’s illogical to argue that the decisions of state conventions in the 1780’s are binding on all citizens today, or that the decisions of states in ratifying Constitution II should be binding on all these states forever. While the states do take on considerable obligations in mutual support and in acting as a unified nation, nevertheless it should be possible for states to voluntarily withdraw. It should be difficult to withdraw, and it should require adequate notice to the other states to adjust – but it should be possible. That is the intent of this provision.

[30] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV.

[31] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV.

[32] Copied from the 1787 Constitution, Article IV.

[33] Adapted from the 1787 Constitution, Amendment 2. Many constitutional scholars believe that this was the original intent of the Framers of the 1787 Constitution.

[34] Advocates for states rights often argue that some federal laws and regulations improperly infringe on state prerogatives. This provision would allow a state, in certain circumstances and with the concurrence of two-thirds of its citizens, to adopt a state law that supersedes a federal law.

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