3-Minute Civics: The components of constitutions

3-Minute Civics: The components of constitutions

‘You are infringing on my First Amendment rights.” “I exercise my Second Amendment right.” “I invoke the Fifth.” These phrases are shorthand for important constitutional liberties: freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and the right to refuse to answer when questioned by the police. All are enshrined in the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. What many people don’t realize is that New Hampshire had its own constitution before the United States did. And New Hampshire’s Bill of Rights is in many ways far more explicit and expansive in its protections of individual freedoms than the national Bill of Rights. New Hampshire was the first of the 13 states to establish its own constitution, with the adoption of an initial temporary constitution on January 5, 1776. That original New Hampshire Constitution did not contain a lot of detail, and in 1784, voters replaced it with the current version. The state’s revised constitution included a list of fundamental human freedoms. New Hampshire voters adopted the state constitution with its own Bill of Rights seven years before the Bill of Rights became part of the United States Constitution. While the U.S. Constitution provides all Americans the same minimum rights, state constitutions set forth freedoms that people who live and work within that state have. In some cases, including New Hampshire’s, state constitutions guarantee greater liberties than those in the U.S. Constitution. This helps eliminate doubt about what rights people of this […]

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