The Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights was ten laws that were created in order to get the Constitution ratified. It was also made to reinforce the national government since it did not have enough power. Everywhere in the national government was not strong enough but the president. The anti-federalists thought the president was too strong and it would develop into a monarchy. The concepts were built on some older documents, such as the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, and the 1215 Magna Carta. It was an addition suggested by the people, since some of them were anti federalists. The anti- federalists wanted a few things:
- They thought that a Bill of Rights was necessary
- They believed that the constitution had procured a presidency so strong with so much power that it would evolve into a monarchy.
- They believed the Constitution did not do enough with the courts and would make an uncontrollable judiciary.
- They believed that the national government would be too far away from the people and thus unresponsive to the needs of locals faraway.
- They believed the Constitution would eliminate, at least in part, the power of the states.
The Bill of Rights was an idea suggested by the people to add onto get the constitution ratified, since the vote to get it in was very close in a few states. In the end, 11 states ratified the constitution and the anti-federalists were now tasked with completing it. James Madison, the leader of the anti-federalists in congress, started writing it right away, with a moderately large group. It was created on September 25, 1789, and was ratified on December 15, 1791.
Following the Philadelphia Convention, some important revolutionary people such as Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and Richard Henry Lee publicly opposed the new government, a position known as “Anti-Federalism”. Quite a few of them had also worked on earlier important documents, such as the Declaration of Independence. For example, Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams both worked on the Declaration and the Bill of Rights. Without these people, James Madison would have never gotten close to completion of his task. At least 15 people worked on the Bill of Rights and helped the way it was worded.
The Bill of Rights contained a few adjustments and additions to the original Constitution. IIt had ten laws/rules that could not be infringed by anyone legally in the U.S.. Anyone who did could faces serious consequences such as prison and big fines. These ten laws were the Articles 3–12 that were part of the twelve laws Congress and the Senate approved on 9/9/1789 (Senate) and 9/25/1789 (Congress). Later in history, another great deals of laws were added due to the changing complexity of the fast-growing United States. Here are the ten original laws that were written by James Madison and crew.
Amendment I (Third Article)
Basic Human Rights
The first amendment was a law that protected citizens’ rights to speech, press, religion, petition, and protest. The freedom of speech stated that the government had no right to enforce or block the people’s opinions. The people could say anything they wanted. The freedom of press said that the newspapers and radio stations could report anything they saw fit, even if it could be slightly offensive to the government. The freedom of religion protected the right for everyone to practice their beliefs on their own accord. Other people also could not intrude or try to stop different people from practicing their beliefs, but many terrorists and haters all try to stop a religion by bombing, burning, or damaging certain churches of that belief or religion. The government also had to respect each religion. The freedom of petition said that anyone could complain to the government for a redress of grievances.
The freedom of protest allowed people to band together and protest a thing that they did not like. If things get too rowdy, police are allowed to break up those parts of the protest, but they aren’t allowed to stop it in general.
In the Bill of Rights, for the First Amendment, it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Amendment II (Fourth Article)
The second amendment allowed citizens to carry and purchase guns/ arms for use in colonial militias. This was made legal so the colonists could protect themselves from dangers that they faced back then, such as wild animals, enemy armies, and robbers. But nowadays, many dangers they faced back then do not exist where most of us live now, and security is good enough that it is hard for a robber to get into your house without getting seen. So now I think all that this law is giving chances for gang members to purchase guns to harm others, so I think that they should tweak the amendment and give it some new parts so it is not as easy to buy guns from your local store. In the Bill of Rights, it says,”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. ”
Amendment III (Fifth Article)
No Forced Quartering
“No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.” This is what it says in the Bill of Rights for the third amendment, which protected the right to refuse to let soldiers live in their house if you owned the house.
Amendment IV (Sixth Article)
Military and Police Searches Without Warrant
The fourth Amendment was about Military and police searches that were issued without a warrant. The Bill of Rights made it so you now need a warrant / license to search people or their houses, otherwise it will be deemed illegal and then you could be arrested. “People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” This is what it says in the Bill.
Amendment V (Seventh Article)
If you are accused of a crime and are being tried, you are given certain rights. First, you cannot be tried twice for the same crime. So if you rob someone twice, the second time you will not get tried. Second, you cannot be used against yourself. Third, you cannot be harmed without a worthy reason and you have to go through the course of law. Lastly, they cannot take anything without a good reason to do so.In the Bill, it says:“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Amendment VI (Eight Article)
More Trying Rights
The Sixth Amendment establishes a large number of rights of the defendant in a criminal trial:
- to a fast and public trial
- to trial by an neutral jury
- to be informed of criminal charges
- to meet witnesses
- to make witnesses to appear in court
- to assistance of counsel
It also made it so the defendant could choose to stay silent.
Amendment VII (Ninth Article)
Civil Cases in Court
The Seventh Amendment guarantees jury trials in federal civil cases that deal with claims of more than twenty dollars. This applies if you are trying to sue someone for more than 20 dollars. It also prohibits judges from reject findings of fact by juries in federal civil trials. In Colgrove v. Battin (1973), the Court ruled that the amendment’s requirements could be fulfilled by a jury with a minimum of six members. The Seventh is one of the few parts of the Bill of Rights not to be incorporated (applied to the states). The Bill of Rights says: ‘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 re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
Amendment VIII (Tenth Article)
No Excessive Bail
The Tenth Article makes sure that a Jury cannot force you to endure a harder punishment than you deserve. This amendment is usually used in trials of execution. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Amendment IX (Eleventh Article)
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The Ninth Amendment proclaims that there are additional basic rights that exist outside the Constitution. The rights mentioned in the Constitution are not a clear and exhaustive list of individual rights.
Amendment X (Twelfth Article)
“The 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.” This amendment gives some rights to the individual states which may have been taken away.
The Bill of Rights is a very important keystone in the foundations of the early U.S. Government in the 1790’s and the early 18th century. Without it, the Government today would be very different, with some features that it supplies would be gone. The president would have too much power and things would be very different from what it is like today.
Bibliography and Acknowledgements: