We’ve finished the original Constitution and are now looking at the amendments. Today, we’ll consider the Fifth Amendment.
This post is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.
Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.
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.
The corrupt kings and other governments in Europe frequently had people imprisoned with little or no reason. It was also common for people to be tortured into confessing crimes, whether they committed them or not. Nobles and royalty were bad about just usurping people’s property for their own benefit, too. These are the reasons behind this amendment. We all get upset when some criminal gets off on a technicality and cannot be retried because of “double jeopardy,” but we would lead precarious lives without such protections.
“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”
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