Welcome to the Liberal Conservative’s look at the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, better known as the Bill of Rights, part 7 of 10!
Wanna’ play catch up with the Bill of Rights Series? Click here to see all previous entries plus some extra stuff!
The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution:
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 reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Fun fact about the 7th Amendment: it’s the only amendment that hasn’t been incorporated, or applied to the States. The more you know…
Widely regarded as the most self-explanatory Amendment, #7 up there protects one’s right to a jury trial in civil suits where the item or damages in question exceed the total of $20.00. However, there are four conditions that must be met in order for the Seventh Amendment to apply to a case.
1. The claim must be a case wherein the right to trial by jury would be triggered by English common law of 1791; the year the 7th Amendment was ratified.
2. A lawsuit must first be brought to U.S. Federal Court before an attorney or litigant can profess that the 7th Amendment applies.
3. Obviously the lawsuit must assert a claim to a sum worth more than twenty dollars as clearly stated in the Amendment’s text. Otherwise, no trial by jury.
4. The claim must be “essentially” legal for the 7th Amendment to be applicable. Cases that seek Specific Performance, injunctions or other claims not seeking a monetary gain fall under Equity Law and are typically not protected by the common law-based 7th Amendment.
Now, as previously mentioned, the 7th Amendment is a rare case of Federal law not being applied to the States and that allows certain courtroom-based reality television shows, which handle civil suits that often meet 7th Amendment criteria via bench trial rather than jury trial, to exist.
So, How Does This Amendment Apply To Modern America?
The 7th Amendment is relatively harmless and lies somewhere between easy to understand and complicated as all heck, depending on who you are. From what I’ve been able to gather there isn’t much in the way of cases where the 7th Amendment is furiously fought. Not to mention we all love those gosh darn, super awesome courtroom reality shows!
What I, as a Republican, love about this Amendment is that it’s a joint effort between the State and Federal Governments. States can choose to handle civil suits from within or, with larger, more impactful cases, bring them to federal court.
Edited by SS