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An introduction to the history of the bill of rights

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights: Its History and Significance The Issues: What is The Bill of Rights? Why were the Bill or Rights enacted?

  1. This document was also used by the Marquis de Lafayette in drafting the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 1789.
  2. This document was also used by the Marquis de Lafayette in drafting the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 1789.
  3. Article I, Section 9 places limits on Congress in the areas of habeas corpus, ex post facto laws, bills of attainder, and titles of nobility; it also outlines rights retained by the states. Not surprisingly, disparity among the states occurs when the issue turns to the establishment of religion.
  4. What are the twists and turns involved in this very American story as distinct from the sweeping story of a rights tradition that reaches back into remote antiquity?
  5. During the summer of 1787, the Confederation Congress also passed the Northwest Ordinance. A House-Senate Conference Committee reconciled the remaining differences and Congress finally submitted 12 amendments to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789.

How should they be interpreted? The matter came up before the Convention on September 12, 1787 and, following a brief debate, proposals to include a Bill or Rights in the Constitution were rejected. As adopted, the Constitution included only a few specific rights guarantees: I, Section 10provisions that prohibit both the federal and state governments from enforcing ex post facto laws laws that allow punishment for an action that was not criminal at the time it was undertaken and provisions barring bills of attainder legislative determinations of guilt and punishment Art.

  1. Finally, the Ordinance repeats the ambiguity concerning the establishment of religion.
  2. Part Three The fate of the ratification of the Constitution turned on two compromises made in the 1 Massachusetts and New Hampshire ratifying conventions and 2 Virginia and New York ratifying conventions. In Virginia and Delaware, the bill of rights was actually written chronologically as well as conceptually prior to the constitution.
  3. But the language of that Article can be twisted and turned through time to include an immense array of objects under the supposed authority of the general welfare, common defense, and interstate commerce clauses, not to mention the necessary and proper clause. Constitution , which includes Madison's copy of the proposed Bill of Rights.

I, Sections 9 and 10. The framers, and notably James Madison, its principal architect, believed that the Constitution protected liberty primarily through its division of powers that made it difficult for an oppressive majorities to form and capture power to be used against minorities.

Delegates also probably feared that a debate over liberty guarantees might prolong or even threaten the fiercely-debated compromises that had been made over the long hot summer of 1787. In the ratification debate, Anti-Federalists opposed to the Constitution, complained that the new system threatened liberties, and suggested that if the delegates had truly cared about protecting individual rights, they would have included provisions that accomplished that.

Thomas Jefferson, who did not attend the Constitutional Convention, in a December 1787 letter to Madison called the omission of a Bill of Rights a major mistake: Despite his skepticism, by the fall of 1788, Madison believed that a declaration of rights should be added to the Constitution.

Bill of Rights

When the First Congress met in 1789, James Madison, a congressman from Virginia, took upon himself the task of drafting a proposed Bill of Rights. He considered his efforts "a nauseous project. Some of the rejections were very significant, such as the decision not to adopt Madison's proposal to extend free speech protections to the states, and others somewhat less important such as the dropping of Madison's language that required unanimous jury verdicts for convictions in all federal cases.

Some members of Congress argued that a listing of rights of the people was a silly exercise, in that all the listed rights inherently belonged to citizens, and nothing in the Constitution gave the Congress the power to take them away. In part to counter this concern, the Ninth Amendment was included providing that "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.

Others, such as rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, would dismiss the Ninth Amendment as analogous to "an inkblot on the Constitution," a provision so unclear in its significance that judges should essentially read it out of the Constitution. Most of the protections of the Bill of Rights eventually would be extended to state infringements as well federal infringements though the "doctrine of incorporation" beginning in the early to mid-1900s.

Primary Documents in American History

The doctrine rests on interpreting the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as prohibiting states from infringing on the most fundamental liberties of its citizens. In the end, we owe opponents of the Constitution a debt of gratitude, for without their complaints, there would be no Bill of Rights.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "There has just been opposition enough" to force adoption of a Bill of Rights, but not to drain the federal government of its essential "energy.