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The Text of the Fifth Amendment

The text of the Fifth Amendment reads as follows: “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 [sic] 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.”

Because the Framers hoped that the Constitution would be an enduring document, they generally avoided using specific language that one might find in a code or a regulation. Instead of specifying particular instances of prohibited governmental conduct in the Bill of Rights, the Framers established broad principles that government officials must take into account before encroaching on individual freedoms. In this way the Framers required future generations of citizens to determine the Constitution’s meaning.

In Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803), the U.S. Supreme Court, per Chief Justice John Marshall, ruled that the ultimate authority for determining the Constitution’s meaning lay with the judicial branch of government through the power of judicial review. Pursuant to this power, courts are authorized to review laws enacted by government officials and invalidate those that violate the Constitution.

Inside The Text of the Fifth Amendment