Take A Look at the West Virginia Bill of Rights
The West Virginia Bill of rights contains 22 separate items. Each item addresses a specific inalienable privilege of the people of West Virginia. It is common for state constitutions to mirror the privileges of the US Bill of Rights, but the West Virginia Constitution goes much further and into much greater detail on various issues. This Bill of Rights was included in the original WV Constitution, which was ratified in 1872, but has had several Amendments added to it over the years (all amendments to the WV Bill of Rights are included in the list below).
Just as it is important to read and understand the United States Constitution and its Amendments to be an informed citizen of the United States, it is vital to read and understand the West Virginia Constitution and its Amendments to be an informed citizen of West Virginia.
Each section of the WV Bill of Rights is summarized below.
- All people, by nature, are equally free and independent.
- Magistrates are servants of the people of West Virginia.
- A majority of the community has an inalienable right to reform, alter or abolish any form of government.
- The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended; all crimes must be indicted by a grand jury.
- Excessive bail, fines, and cruel and unusual punishment if forbidden. No person shall be compelled to testify against themselves or be tried twice in court for the same crime.
- Unreasonable search and seizure is prohibited.
- Freedom of speech and press is guaranteed.
- Protections for defendant accused of libel. If the matter charged as libelous is true and was published with good motives, then the defendant’s right to free speech shall be defended.
- Private property shall not be taken by government without just compensation; a jury shall decide questioned amounts.
- Protection of life, liberty, and property. No person shall be denied these things without due process of law and jury.
- No political or religious tests shall be required as a prerequisite to vote, serve as a juror, sue, plead, appeal, or pursue any profession or employment.
- The military is subordinate to the people.
- Right to trial by jury for civil cases exceeding $20.
- All persons are guaranteed a speedy public trial by 12 jurors, the right to be confronted by their accusatory witnesses, the right to counsel, and the right to compel witnesses on their behalf to testify.
- Religious freedom is guaranteed. Schools shall provide a designated brief time for students to exercise their right to private contemplation, meditation, or prayer.
- Right of the public to assemble in a peaceable manner is protected.
- Courts are open to all people and justice shall be administered without sale, denial, or delay.
- No conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.
- No hereditary emoluments, honors or privileges shall ever be granted or conferred in this State.
- Free government and the blessings of liberty can be preserved to any people only by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
- Gender shall not determine a person’s eligibility to serve as a juror. A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use.