One of the toughest things to remember, whether you were born in the US, or came here as an immigrant, is the 27 Amendments to the US Constitution. In this and the next 2 posts, I'm going to teach you a series of mnemonics that will help you remember all of them.
Let's start with a quick refresher on the basics of the US Constitution with some help from Schoolhouse Rock:
What I'm about to teach isn't the only way to learn the US Constitution. The movie Born Yesterday (the 1993 version) features a song that teaches the amendments.
The first amendment to the US Constitution is the only one where there are 6 different rights spelled out, so you can remember these rights with the nonsense word RAPPOS. RAPPOS is an acronym for the freedoms of Religion, Assembly, Petition, Press, Opinion and Speech. Most people are familiar enough with the first amendment that there's no need to link the number 1 to these rights.
When you're trying to remember what's in the 2nd amendment, just think of someone calling out, 2 Arms! 2 Arms! Yep, the 2nd amendment is the right to bear arms.
Amendment 3 is remembered with 3 words: No housing troops. The 3rd amendment is the right to freedom from being required to house troops during peacetime. This was considered important, as the British had often forced the American colonists to house the redcoats.
The 4th amendment, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, is easily remembered with by asking the question: What are you searching 4?
The 5th amendment is another famous one, as you so often see movies and TV shows where someone is pleading their 5th amendment rights. This is always is court, because they are asserting their right to not be forced to testify against themselves.
Public speedy trials, a phrase that contains only 6-letter words, is the mnemonic for the 6th amendment. This is also the amendment that says someone accused in court has the right to confront his accusers, and the right to a defense counsel. The 5th and 6th can be thought of together as the Miranda warning rights.
How can you remember the 7th amendment? 7 is supposed to be good luck, and in civil cases, having a trial by jury can bring good luck towards reaching a favorable decision.
The mnemonic for the 8th amendment will probably be the most vivid of the mnemonics in this first section. Imagine that you've been convicted of a crime in a village of cannibals, and as punishment, they ate you! This seems like cruel and unusual punishment, doesn't it? The 8th amendment, fortunately, protects you from cruel and unusual punishments like this.
Users of the Major/Peg system already associate 9 with the letter P, as the letter P looks like a 9 facing the other way. That helps with remember the 9th amendment, where P stands for Power and People. The 9th amendment makes it clear that individuals do have rights that aren't explicity mentioned in the Constitution.
If you can remember these, you'll be able to recall not only a full third of the constitutional amendments, but 90% of the Bill of Rights, as well! Practice these, and on Thursday, I'll teach you mnemonics for amendments 10 to 18 (and maybe even sneak an extra one in).