What is Constitutional Law?
Generally, the topic of constitutional law applies to the interpretation and implementation of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The determination of the application and intent of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution is the responsibility of the federal courts, with the U.S. Supreme Court acting as the final authority on all matters related to the Constitution.
The Bill of Rights
While the federal courts have sole jurisdiction of all questions related to the Constitution, including the application of the Commerce Clause, or the Copyright Clause, a significant percentage of constitutional law cases involve the construction of the first ten Amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights. Included among those rights are:
- Freedom of religion.
- Freedom of speech.
- Freedom of the press.
- The right to peacefully assemble.
- The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- The right to keep and bear arms.
- The right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
- The avoidance of “double jeopardy”.
- The right to refuse to be a witness against yourself in a criminal proceeding.
- The right to due process of law before you can be deprived of life, liberty or property.
- The right to just compensation when your private property is taken for public use.
- The right to a speedy and public trial.
- The right to trial by jury.
- The right to be informed of any charges against you.
- The right to confront any witnesses against you.
- The right to have legal counsel to defend you.
- The right to compel witnesses to appear in court.
- The prohibition of excessive bail.
- The prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
The other constitutional provision that the courts interpret on a regular basis is the 14th Amendment, which prohibits the states from abridging “the rights and immunities” of citizens without “due process of law,” and which also guarantees the “equal protection of the law”.
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