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12AD.10.1 Bill of Rights

This item is the enrolled original joint resolution of Congress, engrossed on parchment, proposing 12 amendments to the United States Constitution. The Federal Government's official copy of the resolution is signed by Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John Adams, Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate.
United States. Congress
National Archives

United States. Congress. Bill of Rights, 1789. National Archives and Records Administration

Among its many functions, the US Constitution protects the rights of individuals from government interference. The court system can help citizens find solutions when government action threatens their constitutionally protected rights — such as their right to life, liberty (freedom), or property.

Students can review other legal cases in which plaintiffs have successfully argued that their life, liberty, and/or property is threatened in such a way that a court decision requires a change in federal policy. They should think about how a court must first go about defining such broad rights (“liberty,” “freedom”) and then must fashion an order protecting those rights. Most importantly, however, students need to recognize that the plaintiffs in Juliana are seeking an extraordinarily broad remedy from the court. The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education is a good example of a case in which plaintiffs asked the courts to require the federal government to make a major policy change (by compelling schools to desegregate). Students need to see that courts are obligated to protect citizens’ rights but also that some citizens may attempt to resist such orders when it interferes with their life or work.

“No person shall be...deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law...”