This July 4th, Know Your Bill of Rights: A WDET Primer

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Image credit: National Archives

For Independence Day, the WDET News team members read you the U.S. Constitution.

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Our July 4th holiday — Independence Day — marks the anniversary of the 13 original colonies’ Declaration of Independence from England.

That’s where we get this famous passage:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

(Click here for the full text of the Declaration of Independence.)

Maybe your tradition to mark the American rebellion (and eventual revolution) is barbecue and fireworks. If you’re NPR, it’s a reading of the Declaration of Independence by staff.

This year, the WDET news team members thought we’d bring you the Preamble and the Bill of Rights of the U.S Constitution, the document the former colonists adopted to create the system of government in place today. To learn more about the Constitution and the nation’s founding documents, visit the National Archives web site.

Below is the text and our audio versions of the Preamble and the Bill of Rights alongside the photos of the WDET staff members who read them.

Enjoy your holiday and our founding documents!

WDET's Jerome VaughnWDET

WDET’s Jerome Vaughn

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

Read by Jerome Vaughn

Click here to listen.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure 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.”


WDET's Quinn KlinefelterWDET

WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter

The First Amendment

Read by Quinn Klinefelter

Click here to listen.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression 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.”

WDET's Shelby JouppiMyron Watkins
Myron Watkins

WDET’s Shelby Jouppi




The Second Amendment

Read by Shelby Jouppi

Click here to listen.

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.”

WDET's Bre'Anna TinsleyWDET

WDET’s Bre’Anna Tinsley





The Third Amendment

Read by Bre’Anna Tinsley

Click here to listen.

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.”

WDET's Sascha RaiynWDET

WDET’s Sascha Raiyn



The Fourth Amendment

Read by Sascha Raiyn

Click here to listen.

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.”

WDET's Sandra SvobodaCourtesy of Sandra Svoboda
Courtesy of Sandra Svoboda

WDET’s Sandra Svoboda


The Fifth Amendment

Read by Sandra Svoboda

Click here to listen.

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 offence 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.”

WDET's Laura HerbergLaura Herberg
Laura Herberg

WDET’s Laura Herberg

The Sixth Amendment

Read by Laura Herberg

Click here to listen.

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 defence.”

WDET's Eli NewmanNPR

WDET’s Eli Newman


The Seventh Amendment

Read by Eli Newman

Click here to listen.

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 re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

WDET's Amy MillerWDET

WDET’s Amy Miller


The Eighth Amendment

Read by Amy Miller

Click here to listen.

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

WDET's Annamarie SyslingCourtesy of Anna Sysling
Courtesy of Anna Sysling

WDET’s Annamarie Sysling





The Ninth Amendment

Read by Annamarie Sysling

Click here to listen.

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

WDET's Pat BatchellerCourtney Hurtt/ WDET
Courtney Hurtt/ WDET

WDET’s Pat Batcheller




The Tenth Amendment

Read by Pat Batcheller

Click here to listen.

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.”




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