US Bill of Rights – IELTS Reading

By | September 26, 2014
Marble statue of James Madison in a corridor


After the United States of America was formed, some people were worried that the new American government would become as strong as other governments in the world. They wanted to make sure that individual rightswould be protected and that people would know about their rights. Many American leaders wanted to include a list of specific rights that each citizenmust have, rights that the government could not take away. Thus the Bill of Rights was formed, under the leadership of James Madison, in 1791. At t this time ten new rights were added to the Constitution. They are explained here in plain language.

1. You can choose your own religion. You can expressyour thoughts and opinions freely through speech and writing. If you are unhappy with the actions of the government, you are allowed to meet to discuss your feelings and ideas.
2. You are allowed to carry a weapon to defendyourself, if you have a license.
3. You do not have to allow soldiers into your house unless the government passes a law that requires it. If this happens, Congress must set rules to protect you.
4. You have a right to privacy of your home, your papers and your body. The government cannot search these things unless they can prove that there is a need to do so.
5. If you are arrested, you cannot be convicted of a crimeunless you are tried in court by a jury. A jury must hear both sides and decide whether you are innocent or guilty. If the jury declares you innocent, then the government cannot try you again for the same crime.
6. You have a right to a public trial, so that people know what is happening. You have the right to your own lawyer. If you are arrested and cannot afford a lawyer to defend you, the government must provide you with a lawyer.
7. If you have a civil case with another person, then you have the right to a trial also.
8. If you are arrested, the government must set a reasonable bail. Your bail cannot be too high. The government cannot torture you or inflict cruel or unusual punishment.
9. The rights listed above are not the only rights that you have. You have other rights than those listed in the Bill of Rights.
10. Anything that the Bill of Rights does not mention that Congress can do should be left to individual states and the people to decide.
Complete the summary below. Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.
The Bill of Rights promises several specific 1 ………. to people. People have the freedom of 2 ………. and can choose whatever faith they wish. One also has the right to 3 ……….. oneself using a licensed weapon if necessary. The right to a fair 4 ………. is also mentioned; a person cannot be tried in secret government proceedings. There are many other rights that a person is entitled to, not all of which are 5 ………. in the Bill of Rights. However, these can be specified by 6 ………. as necessary and then implemented into law. 

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