The Bill of Rights Essay
The Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights practically became part of American constitution with the endorsement of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. When constitution was formally framed it contained Bill of rights in the form of charter of rights and liberties. But it was felt there were many things left to allow government to operate with full force. The name “Bill of Rights” was at once applied to these ten amendments, but in a truly national sense it was a misnomer. The restraints contained in them were imposed solely upon the federal government: the states were untouched by these prohibitory mandates.
That seemed of little moment at the time, since most of the states had their own bills of rights and citizens of those states had varying degrees of double protection. Bill of Rights A new national responsibility had to be assumed, and one aspect of it was the expansion of the existing Bill of Rights to make its provisions effective against violation by the states as well as by the national government. Half a century later another amendment, the Nineteenth, wiped out a remaining inequality by extending the right of suffrage to women, and in 1964 the Twenty-Fourth Amendment struck down the poll tax as a device to restrict the right to vote.
Thus, by subsequent growth as well as by antecedent beginnings, the identification of the first ten amendments as the American Bill of Rights became grossly inadequate. The American Bill of Rights as it exists today has to be brought together from all its sources, a compendium derived from the original Constitution, the first ten amendments and the subsequent amendments. Design and harmony emerge. In the entire world’s history there is nothing to compare with the pledges of human rights and freedom that have been worked into our charter of government at the great moments of national history.
The swift ratification of the anti-poll-tax amendment, and the awakening of Congress revealed by passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, provided the first evidence of a relinking of freedom with justice in American public opinion. But the continuing assaults on the Supreme Court, for decisions deserving the highest praise, produced no general uprising in defense of the liberties implanted in the Constitution in the period of its adoption. Apathy due to ignorance, interacting with ignorance due to apathy, continued to be the outstanding feature of the popular reaction.
On July 4, 1951, the Madison, Wisconsin, Capital-Times sent out two reporters to ask people encountered at random to sign a petition saying that they believed in the Declaration of Independence. Fear has to be combined with ignorance to produce such a state of mind, which allows active play to an equal ignorance inflamed by passion. Far fewer than half of the American people have the remotest idea of what their personal and political rights embrace. Still less do they know their neighbors’ rights.
People will answer yes, when asked if they believe in a certain form of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. What, then, is the Bill of Rights? Other reference works, histories and libertarian books consulted by him disclosed no adequate compilation of constitutional rights, liberties, privileges and immunities. Hamilton’s argument was not wholly flawless, when he disparaged the impotent “should’s” and “ought to’s” of existing state declarations of rights.
But there was a basic rightness in his assertion that such ethical aphorisms did less to secure recognition of popular rights than the Preamble to the Federal Constitution, whose wording he capitalized and italicized: Constitutional guarantees of liberty have been enormously enlarged. But the fundamental protection remains what it was in the beginning–the action of the People in ordaining and establishing the Constitution. In other words, the first and foremost element in the American Bill of Rights is the fact that we have a written Constitution, enforceable as it stands, and unchangeable by ordinary acts of legislation.
Conclusion For the real significance of that fact, compare the American Bill of Rights with England’s great document, Magna Carta, of which its leading analyst, McKechnie, wrote: “The great weakness of the Charter lay in this, that no adequate sanction was attached to it, in order to ensure the enforcement of its provisions. ” There could be no adequate sanction, because the Charter was not a constitution enforceable against king and parliament. Edward I repeated the restoring operation in 1297.
Again and again, as century followed century, the Commons and Lords affirmed and English kings acknowledged that Magna Carta was the law of the land. Thirty-two times, wrote Sir Edward Coke in his Second Institute, the Charter had been enacted into law. Also, it is only fair to point out that between 1950 and 1960, certain written guarantees of the American Bill of Rights went in and out of the United States Constitution with an ease and frequency that made some Englishmen and Americans gasp, due chiefly to changes in the personnel of the Supreme Court.
In England, all acts of Parliament are the validly enforceable law of the country, binding on the courts. A British law may play havoc with the British Constitution, and it is still a valid law. The great need of the present day is to cast off fear of freedom, and recapture the courage and vision of those who first erected the standard of American liberty. pity checks” in government employment, extending far beyond the legitimate needs connected with national defense.
Stalin robbed the Soviet treasury if he paid Chambers twenty rubles for them. WORKS CITED Kramer, Daniel C. The Price of Rights: The Courts, Government Largesse, and Fundamental Liberties. New York: Peter Lang, 2004. Martin, Rex. A System of Rights. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. Van Kley, Dale, ed. The French Idea of Freedom: The Old Regime and the Declaration of Rights of 1789. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994. Wood, James E. , ed. The First Freedom: Religion & the Bill of Rights. Waco, TX: J. M.