25 Laws That Make America a Better Place

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List Criteria: The laws on this list are ordered by the dates they went into effect.

Laws are often monumental in helping to heal the world. These are some of the best ideas that helped to make the world a better place. Some of these laws were written when the United States was founded, other newer laws were put into place to repeal older ones. 

Some of the most important laws ever written were codified in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. Those first ten rules of law became the precedent for how all future laws would come about. It made the United States of America one of the most democratic places to live at the time. 

Later laws passed to ensure more rights to more people. Some laws that sought to exclude Americans were repealed. Minorities, women, the elderly, the impoverished, and young people, were unfairly targeted by certain laws that had existed. This list also looks at ways that these laws were overturned to make life better for more people. A few of these laws also expanded everyone's rights. One in particular is the repeal of prohibition, which extended everyone's right to party. Getting told what to do by the government is occasionally a bummer, but most of the time the benefits extended by these laws make the world a better place.
Collection Photo:  Pam Roth
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  1. Habeas Corpus

    Habeas Corpus 
	is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 25 Laws That Make America a Better Place
    Photo: The U.S. National Archives/Flickr
    The first recorded usage of Habeas Corpus was in 1305. It was codified by the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, an English law that is thought to have originated in the Magna Carta. It requires that a person under arrest must be brought before a judge or into court. This is the backbone of our criminal justice system.
  2. Freedom of Speech (1st Amendme... 
	is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 25 Laws That Make America a Better Place
    Photo: Tom Grydeland/Flickr
    "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."

    A monumental guarantee ratified with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
  3. Right to Bear Arms (2nd Amendment to the Constitution)

    Right to Bear Arms (2nd Amendm... 
	is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 25 Laws That Make America a Better Place
    Photo: Evil Erin/Flickr
    "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."

    An important piece of legislation ratified with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
  4. Restriction of Soldiers in Private Homes (3rd Amendment to the Constitution)

    Restriction of Soldiers in Pri... 
	is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 25 Laws That Make America a Better Place
    Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr
    "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."

    At the time, this was a monumental decision. It was ratified with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
  5. Unreasonable Search and Seizure (4th Amendment to the Constitution)

    "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."

    Ensures that police can't search your property without a warrant. It was ratified with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
  6. Protection Against Government Abuse (5th Amendment to the Constitution)

    Protection Against Government ... 
	is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 25 Laws That Make America a Better Place
    Photo: State Archives of North Carolina Raleigh, NC/Flickr
    "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 offencs 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."

    The Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that government officials did not abuse their power. It was ratified with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
  7. Right to Speedy Trial (6th Amendment to the Constitution)

    Right to Speedy Trial (6th Ame... 
	is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 25 Laws That Make America a Better Place
    Photo: Penn State Law/Flickr
    "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."

    Ensured the right of a speedy trial. It was ratified with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
  8. Right to Jury Trials (7th Amendment to the Constitution)

    Right to Jury Trials (7th Amen... 
	is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 25 Laws That Make America a Better Place
    Photo: llahbocaj/Flickr
    "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."

    Allowed for some trials to be settled by a jury. It was ratified with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
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