Constitution Day is tomorrow, September 17. It celebrates the day in 1787 that the Constitution of the United States was ratified.
For the next month or so, we will be taking one day each week to commemorate an amendment to the US Constitution that has an impact on our daily practice of law. On September 23, we will discuss the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures and requirements that warrants issue only upon probable cause and with specific descriptions of the property to be searched and seized or the person to be arrested. (Then we’ll be taking a break here in the middle to celebrate the Louisiana Film Prize and Prize Fest Weekend on October 16 with a list of our favorite movies about the law. Viva!). On October 7 we’ll resume our regularly scheduled programming to discuss the Fifth Amendment’s requirement that a case be instituted by grand jury, its protections against double jeopardy and self-incrimination, and due process requirements. On October 14, we’ll discuss the trial rights established by the Sixth Amendment, including: the right to a speedy trial, a public trial, an impartial jury, to confront one’s accusers, and to an attorney. Finally, on October 21, we’ll discuss the Eighth Amendment’s prohibitions against excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.
As a preview to all of that, we’d like to remind everyone of the preamble to the Constitution, the language that starts off the document that establishes and defines the powers and limitations of our government:
We the People of the United States of America, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Join us in the coming weeks as we look to those parts of the Bill of Rights that we celebrate every day in our criminal defense practice.