The United States Constitution was ratified and made law September 17, 1789. For Americas yet-to-be history the Framers knew the Constitution had to have a way to grow and change with the people, and their needs. This paper will cover the amendment process, the need for the Bill of Rights, how the Bill of Rights has affected America, what the Bill of Rights have granted American’s, discuss the later amendments, and what effect the later amendments have had.
Amendments In order for America to continue to grow and change with the needs of the people, the Constitution was created with an amendment process in Article V. Article V gives two ways in which the Constitution can be amended; first is by a two-thirds vote from both the House or Representatives and the Senate, it must be ratified by 38 of the50 states. To date this is the only method that has been used. Second method is to hold a Convention called for the sole purpose of amending and two-thirds of the state legislatures must attend. Then it must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.
The Constitution The Framers of the Constitution were specifically concerned with creating a charter for a working government, of the people, for the people, but the Constitution covered very few rights for the American citizen. During the secret convention of 1787,there was some opposition to the Constitution because it was viewed as not having enough protections for Americas’ rights. “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth” Jefferson, T (1787). Including an agreement to add immediately the Bill of Rights, gave way for the Constitution to be ratified. James Madison argued that a declaration of rights for the American people would help the judiciary branch protect individual rights. “They have given the right of man and fair discussion, and explained them in so clear and forcible manner as cannot fail to make a lasting impression” Washington, G. (1791).
The Bill of Rights The Bill of Rights has affected countless court cases on individual rights. Communities and states can become involved to push moral or financial standards on others, and the Bill of Rights stops neighbors, states, and the federal government from infringing on the rights of an individual. The Bill of Rights protects the civil liberties that Americans are granted with citizenship, but it also gives America something to strive to be. The Bill of Rights is an ideal, a powerful statement of what America is trying to be.
Amendments beyond the Bill of Rights The Bill of Rights accounts for amendments one through ten. Each of the additional 17 amendments has come about because of clarification needed for the original mechanics of the first three articles or to ensure civil rights. Amendments 11,16, and 24 are for clarifications of Article III. Amendments 12, 17, 20, 22, 25, 26, and 27are for further clarification of Articles I and II. Amendment 23 is further clarification of Article I. Only six amendments are to provide or clarify civil rights, those are13, 14, 15, 18, 19, and 21. Amendment 18 is the only one ever repealed. As we take a deeper look at amendments 13,14, and 15 they were also known as the Reconstruction Amendments.
After the Civil War in early 1865 amendment 13 to abolish slavery, was found to be lacking in clarification of what happened to the freed slaves, and the 14th amendment was proposed in 1866, to allow all slaves citizenship. After this the rights for freed Black men came into question, the 15th amendment was created, that race would not bar anyone from the right to vote.
Effects of the Constitutional Amendments The amendments beyond the Bill of Rights have each come when needed for the political and changing human rights that America has faced in the past 224 years. Rights have been granted; laws passed and recalled when they were no longer applicable for the climate of what Americans wanted for themselves. Clarifications for the running of the United States government, what should happen in case of emergencies and representation of all citizens have come from a government for the people, by the people.
Conclusion Article V of the United States Constitution provides for America to change. The Framers knew that a simple document that was black and white could not govern a people for all time. Our Constitution is alive; it grows with America, and allows changes to be made allowing it stay relevant
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