Fifth Amendment Proposed

1789

James Madison proposes his amendments to the Constitution, which will become known as the Bill of Rights. He includes a constitutional provision that an individual shall not “be compelled to be a witness against himself.” Congress adds the words “in any criminal case,” meaning that the provision, which will become known as “taking the Fifth,” will be allowed only in criminal trials, not civil ones. This will become one of the Fifth Amendment’s clauses providing safeguards against abuse of criminal laws.