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In general, the right may have applications that are beyond the cases for which it was first established for. For example, the right to privacy has been applied to several cases that are dealing with the police procedures for carrying out the seizures and searches. Also the right to be treated fairly has been used widely. American citizens are quite sensitive to most of their rights which are associated with the procedures through which the state government may take away the right to liberty, property and life (Know-It-Alls, 2008).
The Bill of Rights
The key source of the rights for American citizens is the Bill of Rights, the Ten Amendments to the American Constitution. The Bill of Rights was enacted on 1791. The Bill outlines the rights of Americans while forbidding the federal government from violating those rights. Four of the main amendments are associated directly with the criminal justice. These amendments represent the procedural rights that are applied to the US citizens accused of criminal activities, the defendants in crime cases and inmates in prisons and jails (Pederson, 2010).
- The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the federal government from carrying out unwarranted search and seizures.
- The Fifth Amendment gives the right to American citizens against self-incrimination, forbids the federal government to subject a person to a double jeopardy (twice for the same offence); it also promises a due processes of the law.
- The sixth Amendment provides requirements for the criminal trials and includes the right of defendant to counsel.
- The Eight Amendment of the American Constitution prohibits the government to subject the crime detainee to unusual and brutal punishments (Amar, 2000).
The Fourth Amendment
After the Civil War, in 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted and added to the American Constitution. It forbids the federal government to violate rights of American people and their processes of law. It states that the state shall not deny any individual their liberty, property or life without due processes of law. It further states that the state will not deprive its citizens in its jurisdiction unbiased protection of the rights and laws. The above rights of the due law process and equal protections were supposed to protect citizens from the abusive actions of the federal government and criminal justice system. In the Fourth Amendment the terms “due process” and “equal protection” are supposed to be defined by the Supreme Court (Schmidt, 2012).
Ever since the independence, people in power have sought to break free from the Constitutional restriction with great zeal.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks to the US, nevertheless, provided for the opportunity these people in power had been waiting for – the opportunity to punish people, including American citizens, without restriction of the Constitution and the above Bills. To achieve this, they simply claimed that terrorist offenses would be treated as an act of war. Considering that the 9/11 was an act of war, their arguments held that the federal state would no longer be demanded to comply with the procedural demands that were outlined by Bill of Rights when detaining and punishing accused, including Americans.
Though there have been innumerable violations of the Constitution in the US history, the revolution that took place after 9/11 in terms of federal government power over laws’ offenders has assumed a permanent feature that has redesigned American life, considering the nature of the war against terrorism. What I disagree with is the way into which the power brokerage was achieved, through the act of declaring that terrorism was regarded as an act of war, hence violating Bill of Rights (Jefferson, 2007).
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