Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, on the occasion of the 200th Anniversary of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States of America, acknowledges the significant contribution that this historic document has made upon the world. It has served as a beacon for people who yearn to live in a democratic society and has been the model for countless other such legal systems. The fact that our founding fathers were able to draft a Bill of Rights that continues to be the safeguard for individual freedom is testimony to their foresight. The words of these first Ten Amendments to the Constitution represent the principal pillars of liberty on which our nation is built, and upon which we continue to flourish as the longest continuing democracy in the world:
Passed by Congress, September 25, 1789;
Ratified by the States, December 15, 1791
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.
A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
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.
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.
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 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.
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, and 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.
In suite 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 than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
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.
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism reminds its members that liberty requires eternal vigilance so that the United States may continue to serve as a role model in the pursuit of justice and the upholding of human rights.