The Fifth Amendment: An Illustrated History

The Fifth Amendment: An Illustrated History

by Robert McWhirter


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The Fifth Amendment packs a lot of rights into one paragraph; Grand Juries, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, right to due process and forfeiture of private property are all covered. We, as the public, are probably most aware of “Taking the Fifth” beloved of politicians and arch criminals alike. The idea of a person having the right not to be a witness against themselves has a very long history starting with Judaic law. That history is traced here traversing the Middle Ages and oath taking, the Inquisition, church courts and double jeopardy, the contest between common law and ecclesiastical courts, the use and abuse of self-incrimination in Tudor and Jacobean England and, finally, its interpretation in colonial America. All of this history and law informed James Madison when he drafted the Fifth Amendment, and Robert McWhirter here recounts that long arc and its influence.

This lively account is written for the interested citizen, as well as the civics student, and there are surprising, and interesting, discursions into the way the events and personalities surrounding the Fifth Amendment have appeared in literature, film, sports and popular culture.

The book is part of a collection chronicling the origins, history, and interpretation, of the first ten Amendments to the Constitution – the Bill of Rights.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781945682056
Publisher: Constitution Press
Publication date: 11/28/2017
Series: Constitution Press Series
Edition description: Illustrate
Pages: 45
Sales rank: 994,291
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Robert McWhirter is an acknowledged authority on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on which he has written and lectured widely both to academic and legal audiences as well as civic institutions. His earlier work was published by the American Bar Association. He appears regularly on Arizona Public Television’s Horizon program explaining the legality and history surrounding the challenges to, and interpretation of, the Constitution.

Robert also specializes in criminal law on which he has published widely. He presently practices as a criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona.

Table of Contents

Biblical Sources; Christianity and the Middle Ages; The Ius Commune and Trial by Compurgation; The Inquisition; Church Courts in England and Double Jeopardy; Henry VIII and the Tudors; Legal Arguments Against the Oath; Lilburne’s Trial and Legacy; The Puritans in America: Anne Hutchinson and the Salem Witches; Colonial Governors and Inquisitorial Proceedings; Privilege in American Constitutions

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