As you may know, the Bill of Rights encompasses the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution. These are considered to be among the essential freedoms guaranteed to every American, so they’re always valid—even during the zombie apocalypse.
The dead could rise from their graves at any moment, so it’s important to be prepared. Read this guide so you’re aware of your core constitutional rights, zombies or no zombies.
First Amendment: Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition
The First Amendment protects several freedoms, including the right to assemble peacefully. Therefore, when the zombies invade, you can hide wherever you want. You can even join forces with other survivors and build an anti-zombie religion, thanks to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion. That said, the zombies can also practice their chosen religion, which may or may not include eating your brains. (Don’t worry—the eating your brains part wouldn’t be protected by the Constitution.)
The First Amendment also protects your right to free speech and freedom of the press, so you’re completely within your rights to research and publish an article about how the government is accepting money from pro-zombie lobbyists.
Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms
The Second Amendment protects your right to possess a firearm and use it for “traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within a home.” Fighting off the undead may not be the most traditional of purposes, but it’s almost absurdly self-defense.
Remember that to kill a zombie, you have to destroy its brain. If you’re not confident in your shooting ability, you might want to forego your right to bear arms and embrace your right to bear a chainsaw or, failing that, a garden rake.
Third Amendment: Quartering of Troops
According to the Third Amendment, no one can make you host soldiers in your home in peacetime. You also don’t have to welcome them in wartime unless it’s specifically prescribed by law.
If the government does pass a law requiring you to open a soldier bed and breakfast during the zombie apocalypse…well, you should probably be very suspicious of those soldiers. Maybe break the law and don’t let them in.
Fourth Amendment: Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment protects you from having your home, your belongings, and your person unreasonably searched by the government without a warrant. It generally requires the police to get a warrant in order to search private places like homes. No human is going to bother getting a warrant during the apocalypse, and zombies lack the higher brain function to pretend to be cops and then forge one, so the Fourth might not be the most relevant Amendment in our scenario. Keep the doors locked and stockpile any anti-zombie weapons you need.
Fifth to Seventh Amendments: Self-Incrimination and Court Protections
These amendments are very useful if you find yourself arrested either before or after the zombie takeover. They protect you from things like being forced to incriminate yourself in and out of court and provide you with the right to a timely public trial—which is great if you’re trying to escape quickly, before the zombies reach the courthouse.
Eighth Amendment: Prohibition of Excessive Punishments
The best-known part of the Eighth Amendment disallows “cruel and unusual punishment,” so technically it’s illegal for a zombie judge to eat your brains as your sentence for cutting his friend’s arm off. The cruel-and-unusual punishment clause covers punishment by the government, so it doesn’t apply to a zombie eating your friend’s brains, no matter how cruel and unusual it might be. The good news is that the zombie could be prosecuted under your state’s murder laws.
Ninth Amendment: Additional Fundamental Rights Not Specified
The Ninth Amendment says that although the Constitution specifies certain protections, it does not exclude others. This amendment was born from a rational fear, in the same way this guide was born from a (mostly) rational fear of dead people crawling out of their graves: A numbered list of specific rights might lead to the assumption that any rights not included are unworthy of constitutional protection.
In the event that hordes of undead are roaming the continental US, significant shifts in government policy and expansions of federal power are likely. This amendment acts as a sort of catch-all clause, especially during such times of radical change, protecting our individual rights in ways not specified in the other amendments.
Tenth Amendment: Rights Reserved for States or People
The Tenth Amendment is another cover-all-your-bases rule. It says that the federal government has only the powers that the Constitution grants to it, and that states and the public reserve all other powers.
By that logic, since the Constitution might not give the federal government the power to make laws about fighting zombies within a given state’s boundaries, that state can probably go about making the relevant rules.
But not all laws states create are constitutional. So definitely use reasonable, necessary force to defend yourself against zombies no matter what the law says.
Disclaimer: While zombies are subject to all federal and state laws, there’s no guarantee that they won’t ignore them and just go on trying to eat your brains.