Let the stars and bars fly high next to your Christmas decorations this December. A local committee of patriotic people from businesses, non-profit organizations and private citizens is driving a grassroots movement to celebrate one of the pillars of our protected freedoms, the Bill of Rights.
The group, aptly named the Committee for the Celebration and Recognition of Bill of Rights Day in Payson Committee, calls for all red-blooded Americans to remember and honor the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which comprise the Bill of Rights. The celebration, Saturday, Dec. 11, commemorates the document's official ratification date, Dec. 15, 1791
Fearing a return to monarchical tyranny, opponents of a centralized government at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 insisted on a compromise: in exchange for losing their state sovereignty, they wanted a guarantee -- in writing -- to limit the new federal government's power while protecting individual freedoms. This compromise became the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights ensures fundamental civil and human rights: the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and religion; the right to bear arms; protections against unreasonable searches and coerced confessions; and rights to counsel and a jury trial.
Religion: The government can neither impose a state religion nor punish citizens for exercising their religion of choice.
Speech, the press and assembly: Citizens may express opinions, write and publish what they wish, gather peacefully with others and formally ask the government to correct injustices.
Bearing arms: Individuals -- the people -- have the right to own and use weapons without interference from the government.
Unreasonable searches: Citizens cannot be arrested or detained arbitrarily. No agency of government may inspect or seize property or possessions without first obtaining a warrant, which must be specific in nature.
Trials: No person outside the military may be tried for a serious crime without first being indicted by a grand jury of citizens. Once found not guilty, a person may not be tried again for the same crime. Citizens can't be forced to act as witness or provide evidence against themselves in a criminal case. Citizens can't be sent to prison or have assets seized without due process. The government can't take property without paying market value for it. Trials cannot be unreasonably postponed or held in secret. Citizens cannot be held without charges and those charges cannot be held in secret.
In the pages of today's Roundup you will find the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, and more information about Payson's Bill of Rights Day celebration Saturday, Dec. 11.