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Amendments and the Constitution

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Amendments and the Constitution

POLS 2060

Part I

Of all the amendments, the First Amendment seems to play the most significant role in my daily life. Freedom of Religion is a right I exercise daily. I can choose to pray to God, or Allah, or not pray at all. I am protected from discrimination by the government; it is liberating to be free from the constraints of other people's dogmas. I appreciate this section of the Constitution as it creates a democracy instead of a theocracy. In modern theocracies such as Iran or Saudi Arabia I, as a citizen but especially a woman, would be subjected to laws dictating dress code and freedom of movement. I am grateful for my freedom to praise my god or gods.

Freedom of Speech grants me the freedom to hold views against government policies and share them without fear of retribution--fines, imprisonment, torture, death. Legislation is derived from discussion and public debate, differing views and opinions are represented. As an individual I am not censored in my beliefs and I have the right to publicly resist oppression, coercion, and cruelty. The government does not control newspapers which, although most media has an agenda, freedom of speech allows me to choose from several different sources and piece the truth together. I am able to keep informed and inform the world around me.

The purpose of the Ninth Amendment is to protect rights that are not specifically enumerated within the Constitution previously. One of these rights is the right to privacy which includes birth control as most individuals believe that sexual behavior amongst consenting adults is a private matter. According to the Supreme Court the Constitution infers a right to privacy in some of the other amendments such as the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th. This Amendment, which eventually led to Roe v Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973) that established the current abortion law, allows me, as a woman, to make my own healthcare choices and not have them dictated to me by a group of legislators that do not know me or my situation.

Although the 14th Amendment may have initially been intended to deal with issues of race it has since been utilized to grant equal protection to different criteria such as sex and gender. The Court has required that governments use gender classification as more than a simple stereotype, it needs to have a substantially important interest in the classification. This means there needs to be a very valid reason when making choices and laws based on sex or gender as opposed to doing it solely based on sex or gender stereotypes alone. This Equal Protection Clause has inadvertently enabled me, as a woman, to have a job outside the home supporting myself.

Several women worked for the right to vote. The most significant pushes started in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention. Immediately after the Civil War and the 14th-15th Amendments were written, some women accepted that the right to vote was out of reach. However, other groups of women kept fighting for suffrage. These groups started working together in the 1890's and eventually won the right to vote in 1920. Those who opposed suffrage claimed politics was too dirty and harsh and women should stay pure at home as God intended; there was also a concern that women would vote differently than men. As it turns out, women do not vote significantly different than their male counterparts. Interestingly, women were not denied the right to vote in the Constitution, the states were left to decide who could vote. Some states such as New Jersey allowed certain women to vote in the 1700's and in 1869, Wyoming allowed women to vote. This did not stop the suffragists as they believed as citizens all women should have the right to vote protected by the Constitution.



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