the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Trenton NJ, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says he wasn’t thinking about the Bill of Rights when he issued social distancing orders to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” Murphy said Wednesday on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “So, I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this. We went to all — first of all — we went to the scientists who said people have to stay away from each other.”
Wait what, did he say ? You heard it Governor Phil Murphy is not concerned with the ,”Bill of Rights”
Gubernatorial Candidate Jack Ciattarelli quipped, ” In a TV interview last night, Governor Murphy said, “That’s above my pay grade. I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights.” Governor, we know this isn’t easy, but we need better than that. Your duty is to uphold the Constitution.”
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. It spells out Americans’ rights in relation to their government. It guarantees civil rights and liberties to the individual—like freedom of speech, press, and religion. It sets rules for due process of law and reserves all powers not delegated to the Federal Government to the people or the States. And it specifies that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
THE FIRST 10 AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION AS RATIFIED BY THE STATES (“The Bill of Rights”)**
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 offence 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 defence.
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, 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.
**Because the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are not specific guarantees of individual liberties, in some usages “The Bill of Rights” refers only to the first eight amendments.
Read Barron v Baltimore (1833).
Barron settles the question of whether Bill of Rights guarantees that do not specifically limit their application to the federal government (The First Amendment, e.g., expressly says “Congress shall make no law…”) might also protect citizens from the actions of state governments. The answer Chief Justice Marshall gives, in case involving an alleged taking of private property by Baltimore without compensation to the owner, is “No.”
The decision in the case was Marshall’s last on the Court and, interestingly, Marshall cuts off his successor as chief justice, Roger B. Taney, before Taney has a chance to argue the case for Baltimore–Marshall believed that the argument for Barron had been sufficiently weak that there was no need to hear from the lawyer representing the city.
Questions for Class Discussion1. What has been the principal value of the Bill of Rights? Has it been educational, symbolic, or has its main value come from giving the judiciary an additional check on the power of the other branches?
2. Are there other rights that you wish would have been included in the Bill of Rights? What are they? Are there some rights included in the Bill of Rights that you wish Madison would have left out?