Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bill of Rights Approved

The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. They were introduced as a series of amendments in 1789 in the 1st Congress by James Madison. Ten of the amendments were ratified and became the Bill of Rights in 1791. Among the enumerated rights these amendments guarantee are: the freedoms of speech, press, and religion; the people's right to keep and bear arms; the freedom of assembly; the freedom to petition; and the rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure; cruel and unusual punishment; and compelled self-incrimination.

Shown above is James Madison, the "Father" of Constitution and first author of the Bill of Rights.

Bill of Rights also restricts Congress' power by prohibiting it from making any law respecting establishment of religion and by prohibiting the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In criminal cases, it requires indictment by grand jury for any capital or "infamous crime," guarantees a speedy public trial with an impartial and local jury, and prohibits double jeopardy. In addition, the Bill of Rights states that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and reserves all powers not granted to the Federal government to the citizenry or States.

It is interesting that some of the founding fathers objected to the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The most notable example is Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s concern was that the establishment of the Bill of Rights was not only unnecessary but would be dangerous to the liberties of the people.

According to Hamilton and others, the ratification of the Constitution did not deprive the citizen of any rights which were looked upon as natural or God-given rights. In as much as the constitution did not deprive rights then it was understood that these rights were retained by the people.

Writing in Federalist 84, Hamilton claimed that by enumerating certain rights which the people retained, it would imply that other rights were not protected. It would be like making a list of all the people which has helped you over the years - you would most likely overlook some and forget to name them.

Hamilton and others were contending, "Look if you make of list of the rights retained by the people it would be an invitation to deprive people of certain rights not listed."

It was for this reason that the 9th amendment was included which state, "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," In other words, "Just because we didn’t list them doesn’t mean the people don’t have them."


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1 comment:

Klandestine said...

Good morning Pastor.....