Independence Day is upon us and we, like all the country, have been abuzz with talk of Supreme Court rulings and Constitutional interpretations.
We thought we’d take this opportunity to give all of America a little birthday present in the form of a primer on the amendments to the Constitution, the masterful document that created and governs our nation to this day. To help you remember them, we’ve paired each amendment up with a song.
Happy Independence Day!
We the People of the United States, 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.
First Amendment: Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the press, the right to assemble, the right to petition government.
1. Say What You Want – Sheryl Crow
Second Amendment: The right to form a militia and to keep and bear arms.
2. Brothers In Arms – Dire Straits
Third Amendment: The right not to house soldiers in one's home.
3. Hit the Road, Jack - Ray Charles
Fourth Amendment: Protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
4. I Hear You Knocking - Dave Edmunds
Fifth Amendment: No one can be tried for a serious crime unless indicted (accused) by a grand jury. No one can be forced to testify against herself or himself. No one can be punished without due process of law. People must be paid for property taken for public use.
5. They Can't Take That Away from Me – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Sixth Amendment: People have a right to a speedy trial, to legal counsel, and to confront their accusers.
6. Speed Trials - Elliott Smith
Seventh Amendment: People have the right to a jury trial in civil suits exceeding $20.
7. Lovers Need Lawyers – The Good Life
Eighth Amendment: Protection against excessive bail, stiff fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.
8. Punishment Fits The Crime - Ramones
Ninth Amendment: Because there are so many basic human rights, not all of them could be listed in the Constitution. This amendment means that the rights that are enumerated cannot infringe upon rights that are not listed in the Constitution.
9. Know Your Rights - The Clash
Tenth Amendment: Powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution belong to the states or the people.
10. Power To The People - John Lennon
Eleventh Amendment: States can (only) be sued by their own citizens.
11. Judge Not – Bob Marley and The Wailers
Twelfth Amendment: Sets the rules for elections and the Electoral College.
12. Election Day – Lyle Lovett
Thirteenth Amendment: Abolishes and prohibits slavery.
13. Freedom – Jimi Hendrix
Fourteenth Amendment: Defines citizenship, due process and equal protection.
14. Equal Rights – Peter Tosh
Fifteenth Amendment: Voting rights for all male citizens.
15. One Man One Vote – Johnny Clegg and Savuka
Sixteenth Amendment: Congress is empowered to tax incomes.
16. I.R.S – Buckwheat Zydeco
Seventeenth Amendment: Direct election of senators.
17. Vote For Me, Dummy – Guided By Voices
Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition.
18. Whiskey, You’re The Devil – The Pogues
Nineteenth Amendment: Woman gain the right to vote.
19. The Right To Vote – Laura Nyro
Twentieth Amendment: Procedures for outgoing and incoming presidents.
20. Presidential Rag – Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger
Twenty-first Amendment: Repeal of Prohibition.
21. Alcohol – Brad Paisley
Twenty-second Amendment: Limit on presidential terms.
22. Say Goodbye – Norah Jones
Twenty-third Amendment: District of Columbia receives electoral votes.
23. Washington DC – The Magnetic Fields
Twenty-fourth Amendment: Prohibits the poll tax.
24. One Cat, One Vote, One Beer – Ry Cooder
Twenty-fifth Amendment: Presidential succession and disability procedures.
25. Who’ll Be The Next In Line – The Kinks
Twenty-sixth Amendment: Establishes the voting age as eighteen.
26. I’m Eighteen – Alice Cooper
Twenty-seventh Amendment: Congressional raises don’t kick in until after the next election.
27. Take The Money And Run – Steve Miller Band