bill of rights
Rewrite The Constitution? Several States Are Trying To
Even though there's a clause permitting a constitutional convention, one has not been held since the original convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

Since the Bill of Rights, there have been just 17 changes to the U.S. Constitution.

On Thursday, Tennessee’s House of Representatives voted 59-31 to call for a constitutional convention, becoming the fifth state in recent months where lawmakers have called for a major rewrite of the Constitution.

Formally, the vote is a resolution calling for a “convention of the states” to propose new amendments to the Constitution. They’re making use of a clause in Article V. That language gives states the power to call a constitutional convention — just like the one that took place in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago.


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Lights out! We set up a time lapse camera to record how 100 kids and parents got comfortable for the good night in the Rotunda for our first-ever Archives Sleepover. (Hint: inflatable mattresses make a marble floor more bearable.)

The case in the middle contains the Constitution, while the Declaration of Independence to the left and the Bill of Rights is on the right.

Do you want to sleep next to the Constitution? You can sign up for the newsletter from the Foundation for the National Archives or email to be alerted if we have another sleepover!

For more photos (at the ground level) from the sleepover, check out our Flickr stream at archivesnews.

Know Your Rights - 5th Amendment

As many of you probably know yesterday it was 224 years since the ratification of the U.S Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, so this week I want to talk about some of the 10 amendments, so you could (maybe) learn about your rights a little bit more, since the law is being violated in our country quite a lot these days. Today’s topic is the 5th Amendment.

For starters, here’s the original text of the Amendment.

I’ve gotta be honest, it’s one of the most common situations in which authorities abuse the law and in most cases these rights are taken away from people of color. So It’s highly important for PoC to know this very well, if not by heart, not be afraid to report cases of the 5th Amendment’s violation.

You have the right to remain silent!

You have the right to terminate an encounter with a police officer unless you are being detained under police custody or have been arrested. The general rule is that you don’t have to answer any questions that the police ask you.

However, if you are being detained/arrested, please do not ever forget about Miranda’s warning (which is a “preventive criminal procedure rule that law enforcement are required to administer to protect an individual who is in custody and subject to direct questioning or its functional equivalent from a violation of his or her Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination”). You might have heard the first two warnings a lot on movies, but there are more:

There is much more to each of the amendments, with the 5th Amendment not being an exception, but I wanted to emphasize the things that are most important in my opinion. Truly hope this can help someone. 

#FifthAmendment    #KnowYourRights   

Taxpayer Bill of Rights - IRS’ Most Serious Problem

National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina E. Olson’s 2013 annual report to Congress urges the Internal Revenue Service to adopt a comprehensive Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and says IRS budget cuts and training reductions are harming taxpayer service. 

First things first – The NTA’s annual report is prepared by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) – an independent organization within the IRS.  

The NTA delivers the report to the tax committees in Congress. That means the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance. 

The report does not require a prior review by the IRS Commissioner, Treasury Secretary or the OMB, which makes the NTA a very powerful advocate for taxpayers and for reforming the tax collection process. 

The report has four primary sections – most serious problems, legislative recommendations, most litigated issues, and a second volume that includes the results of TAS research and related studies. 

You can read the full NTA report if you want to read all of it, but the “headlines” are listed below. 

Most Serious Problems:-

- IRS Should Adopt a Taxpayer Bill of Rights

- IRS Budget Cuts Harm Taxpayer Service

- IRS Training Reductions Harm Taxpayer Service

- IRS Employees Lack Education on Taxpayer Rights

- New Approach Needed for Identity Theft Victim Assistance

- Taxpayers are harmed by Lack of Regulation of Return Preparers

- Offshore Voluntary Disclosure (OVD) Pressures Taxpayers Into Paying Disproportionate Penalties

- Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Could be Bothersome

 Legislative Recommendations:-

- Permanent Repeal of AMT

- Broaden Timeframes for Filing Refund Claims

- Lower Affordability Threshold for Premium Tax Credit

- IRS Should Bear the Burden of Proof Required to Ban Taxpayers From Claiming ETIC for Two Years

- Allow Educational Institutions to Verify Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) with the IRS before filing Tuition Information Reports

 Top 10 Most Litigated Issues of 2013, in descending order are:-

- Accuracy-Related Penalty Under IRC § 6662(b)(1) and (2)

- Trade or Business Expenses Under IRC § 162(a) and Related Code Sections

- Gross income Under IRC § 61 and Related Code Sections

- Summons Enforcement Under IRC §§ 7602(a), 7604(a), and § 7609(a)

- Collection Due Process Hearings Under IRC §§ 6320 and 6330)

- Failure to File Penalty Under IRC § 6651(a)(1), Failure to Pay Penalty Under IRC § 6651(a)(2), and Estimated Tax Penalty Under IRC § 6654

- Charitable Deductions Under IRC §170

- Frivolous Issues Penalty Under IRC § 6673 and Related Appellate-Level Sanctions

- Civil Actions to Enforce Federal Tax Liens or to Subject Property to Payment of Tax Under IRC § 7403

-  Relief from Joint and Several Liability for Spouses Under IRC § 6015

The Bill of Rights: 14 Originals

On September 28, 1789, Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg and Vice President John Adams signed the enrolled copy of the first proposed amendments to the new Constitution—the document later known as the Bill of Rights

The final, signed copy contained the 12 constitutional amendments that Congress proposed to the states (10 of them, articles 3 through 12, were subsequently ratified and became the Bill of Rights). Shortly after it was signed, clerks created 13 additional copies, which President George Washington sent to the 11 existing states and to Rhode Island and North Carolina—which had not yet adopted the Constitution.  On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified by Virginia, the eleventh and final state needed to officially add them to the Constitution.

So, there were 13 additional copies of the “Bill of Rights”— find out what happened to them in:  Prologue: Pieces of History » The Bill of Rights: 14 Originals.

Senate revisions of the House proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution, 9/9/1789, SEN 1A-C2, Records of the U.S. Senate (NAID 3535588)

NTA Report to Congress Asks for Taxpayer Bill of Rights Legislation

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson submitted her annual report to Congress, and the focus this year is on the levels of taxpayer service.

To be specific, the NTA expresses concern that taxpayers this year are likely to receive the worst levels of taxpayer service since at least 2001 when the IRS first instituted the performance measures it has in place now.

Rather than just focus on the drop in levels of service and provide recommendations to improve the situation, the NTA did one better.

The report recommended that Congress should enact a principles-based Taxpayer Bill of Rights that includes a Right to Quality Service, and provide enough funding to make this right a reality.

The NTA has been urging the IRS to adopt a Taxpayer Bill of Rights since 2007, and the IRS finally did so last year.

With the IRS on-board, a principles-based Taxpayer Bill of Rights as part of the tax law is something that the Republican Congress can hardly refuse, considering all that’s happened in the last year.

Sneaking in a Right to Quality Service, which by definition needs adequate funding for the IRS, is a masterstroke on the part of the NTA.

Here’s the magnitude of the problem - The IRS typically receives more than 100 million telephone calls, 10 million letters, and five million visits at its walk-in sites from taxpayers each year.

The best service in recent years was provided in 2004, when the IRS answered 87 percent of calls from taxpayers seeking to speak with an assistor, and hold times averaged 2.5 minutes.

That year, the IRS prepared nearly 500,000 tax returns for taxpayers who requested help, and maintained an outreach and education program that touched an estimated 72 million taxpayers.

By contrast, IRS service expectations for FY 2015 are as follows:

- The IRS is unlikely to answer even half the telephone calls it receives, and levels of service may average as low as 43 percent;

- Those who do manage to get through are expected to wait on hold for 30 minutes on average and considerably longer at peak times;

- Tax return preparation assistance has been eliminated;

- During the filing season, the IRS will not answer any tax-law questions except “basic” ones.  After the filing season, it will not answer any tax-law questions at all.

A lot of this is directly attributable to budget cuts. The IRS’s budget has been reduced by about 17 percent in inflation-adjusted terms just since FY 2010. This has reduced the agency’s workforce by nearly 12,000 employees, with further reductions in the pipeline during FY 2015. 

To make matters worse, the IRS has reduced the amount it spends on employee training since FY 2010 by 83 percent. A shrinking workforce of employees who are now less equipped to do their jobs is obviously going to lead to a steep drop in service levels.

The report notes that Congress passed taxpayer rights legislation in 1988, 1996, and 1998 but has not passed any significant taxpayer rights legislation in the last 16 years. 

“The National Taxpayer Advocate believes the time is right for taxpayer rights legislation,” the report says.  “The passage of time has shown where new protections are needed.  Without providing these specific taxpayer protections, the [Taxpayer Bill of Rights] becomes merely a statement of principles, without any teeth to ensure that these fundamental rights are protected on a daily basis, and that taxpayers have remedies and the IRS is held accountable for any violations of these rights.”

Read the full annual report submitted to Congress by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson.

Photo credit -

1. This isn’t a harassment campaign. We simply want those implicated to realize — We, who love games, did not vest them with the power to dictate to the market, “what games are”. If the act of reviewing a game triggers a need to write a page and a half decrying its content, maybe that game isn’t for you. Please consider passing that review off to a journalist on your team who might enjoy the content.
—  That’s the first part of the GamerGate ‘Bill of Rights.’ Those bold parts needed some rebuttal — so we did just that.

The government is planning to repeal the Human Rights Act within its first 100 days and replace it with a UK Bill of Rights written by this man, Michael Gove. Repealing the Human Rights Act undermines the ability of British citizens to seek justice from the European Court of Human Rights and is clearly a first step in removing us from the jurisdiction of the court entirely, an institution we, the British, were instrumental in setting up in the wake of World War II to help ensure that the human rights abuses of the Nazi regime could never be repeated again. The Human Rights Act enjoys unwritten precedence over any later Westminster legislation contravening it, by virtue of its forming part of the UK’s international treaty obligations. It can therefore, by convention, only be changed by direct repeal. Any purely British legislation will enjoy no such legal precedence and can be easily superseded by subsequent acts which contravene it. Which, of course, defeats the entire idea of a document whose main purpose is to defend our rights against the government. The only way for a UK Bill of Rights to be worth the paper it’s written on is for it to form part of a constitutional settlement that is explicitly above, and protected from, government interference except by direct amendment or repeal. Which, quite frankly, won’t happen.

So, what do we know about Michael Gove, the man who will soon be redefining the rights of the British people:

  • Gove is on good terms with Rupert Murdoch, whom he described in evidence before the Leveson Inquiry as “one of the most impressive and significant figures of the last 50 years.”
  • In February 2011 a judicial review deemed Gove’s decision to axe Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects in six local authority areas was unlawful as he had failed to consult before imposing the cuts. The judge also said that, in five of the cases, the failure was “so unfair as to amount to an abuse of power” and that “however pressing the economic problems, there was no overriding public interest which precluded consultation or justifies the lack of any consultation.”
  • In February 2011, he gave “not-quite-true information to Parliament” by saying that one individual made £1m in one year when the true figure was £700k for five advisers at different times over a four-year period.
  • In March 2013, 100 academics wrote to “warn of the dangers posed by Michael Gove’s new National Curriculum”. Gove retorted that the critics were “Marxists” and “Enemies of Promise”, that “there is good academia and bad academia.”
  • Gove described the King James Bible as “the most important book in the English language”, and insisted that every student should have the opportunity to appreciate its literary riches.
  • In May 2012 Gove, giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, warned Lord Justice Leveson “the cure might be worse than the disease”, advising the judge against too much extra regulation of the press. The former journalist added that some cases of press misbehaviour were “deplorable”, but argued that these could be punished under existing laws, such as defamation. Gove himself is a former News International journalist.
  • In June 2012, Gove approved three schools run by creationists leading to concerns about whether Department for Education (DfE) requirements not to teach creationism or intelligent design as science would be met.
  • At their annual conference in March 2013, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) passed a no-confidence motion in Gove. This was followed up the next month at the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), who unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Gove, the first time in its history that it performed such an action, and called for his resignation. The audience at the NUT conference were told that Gove had “lost the confidence of the teaching profession”, “failed to conduct his duties in a manner befitting the head of a national education system”, and “chosen to base policy on dogma, political rhetoric and his own limited experience of education.” Together these unions represent the vast majority of education professionals in the UK.
  • Gove has been the subject of repeated criticism for alleged attempts to avoid the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. The criticism surrounds Gove’s use of various private email accounts to send emails that allegedly relate to his departmental responsibilities.
  • In February 2013 The Guardian launched investigations into connections between Gove’s ministerial advisers and what they described as “allegations that members of his department have used the social networking site Twitter to launch highly personal attacks on journalists and political opponents and to conduct a Tory propaganda campaign paid for by the taxpayer.”
  • Gove is one of several Conservative MP who co-authored Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party -a book published in 2005. The book says the NHS “fails to meet public expectations” and calls for it to be dismantled and replaced with personal health accounts.
  • Gove proposed that the invasion of Iraq would bring peace and democracy both to Iraq and the wider Middle East. In December 2008, he wrote that declarations of either victory or defeat in Iraq in 2003 were premature, and that the liberation of Iraq was a foreign policy success.
  • Gove had to be calmed down by parliamentary colleagues in August 2013 after shouting, “A disgrace, you’re a disgrace!” at various Conservative and Liberal Democrat rebels who contributed to defeating the coalition government’s motion to attack Syria in retaliation for the 2013 Ghouta attacks.
  • Michael Gove has described himself as “a proud Zionist”, and supports the United Jewish Israel Appeal’s fundraising activities.
  • In a controversial article about the First World War centenary in January 2014, Gove attacked “Left-wing versions of the past designed to belittle Britain and its leaders”, insisting that, despite “mistakes”, Britain’s role in the world was also “marked by nobility and courage.”
  • Gove does not believe that the United States’ “current position in the world is analogous to that of an Imperial power, as we have come to understand imperial powers.”
  • While deeply critical of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Gove believes that “there have also been more benign empires, and in that I would include, almost pre-eminently, the British.”
  • Gove has written in support of bringing back hanging as capital punishment, which was abolished in the UK in 1965. Writing in The Times, Gove argued “Were I ever alone in the dock I would not want to be arraigned before our flawed tribunals, knowing my freedom could be forfeit as a result of political pressures. I would prefer a fair trial, under the shadow of the noose.”


So, in short, this man is a friend of Rupert Murdoch, has been accused of abusing his power by a judge, has lied to parliament, dismisses his opponents as “Marxists”, believes that the King James Bible is the pinnacle of English literature, supports creationists, has attempted to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act, has used Twitter to anonymously launch personal attacks on his opponents and spread Tory propaganda, believes in the dismantling of the NHS and privatising health care, believes the Iraq War was a success, is “a proud Zionist,” is an imperialist, and is in favour of the death penalty.

Excuse me if I find myself doubting that our human rights are safe in his hands.