Saturday will mark the 221st anniversary of the signing of the "Bill of Rights." Ratified on Dec. 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights guarantees fundamental civil and human rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory.

The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution include the freedoms of speech, press, and religion, the people's right to keep and bear arms, the freedom of assembly, the freedom to petition, the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, and compelled self-incrimination. Further, the Bill of Rights guarantees due process, trial by jury, prohibition of excessive bail as well as cruel and unusual punishment. Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

The League of Women Voters calls for continued protection of civil liberties, improved political discourse, and greater civic participation. Since our founding in 1920, the League has worked to defend civil liberties and promote citizen engagement in democracy, and we continue this emphasis today. The League's mission seeks to help individuals recognize the critical important of protecting and honoring our most cherished constitutional rights and how they impact our everyday lives.

The protection of the individual liberties laid out in the Bill of Rights has been central to the League's work throughout its history. During World War II, the League worked to balance the preservation of civil liberties with the importance of national security. During the communist "witch hunt" period of the early 1950s, the League conducted a community education program known as the "Freedom Agenda", providing Americans with the opportunity to discuss and learn about the Bill of Rights.

More recently, the League members have promoted a diverse and independent judiciary, advocated against warrantless domestic surveillance, worked for government transparency and accountability, and sponsored numerous education projects aimed at informing citizens of their rights.

League members in Montgomery County work throughout the year to protect our liberties and make the most of them by encouraging voter registration, voter turnout, helping sponsor candidate forums, discussing important issues, providing an Observer Corps to city and county boards, and holding elected officials accountable for their actions.

The LWV believes that the Bill of Rights is not only an important part of our nation's history but also a living document that will guide us into the future. In the highly partisan environment throughout our nation today, the League seeks to provide a "safe" venue where all sides of issues can be discussed civilly and thoughtfully. The LWV encourages all members of the community to join in making democracy work!

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, multi-issue organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join the LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information about the League, visit the website; send a message to LWV, PO Box 101, Crawfordsville 4793; or e-mail