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One of the earliest documents used as a model for drafting the American Bill of Rights was the English Bill of Rights of 1689, one of the fundamental documents of English constitutional law.
To prevent the federal government from assuming too much power, those who opposed the Constitution (the "Anti-Federalists") demanded a Bill of Rights, specifically designed to protect individual liberties.
Many were concerned that the strong national government proposed by the Federalists was a threat to individual rights and objected to the federal court system in the proposed Constitution. To prevent the federal government from assuming too much power, those who opposed the Constitution (the "Anti-Federalists") demanded a Bill of Rights, specifically designed to protect individual liberties.
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property of individual citizens from any tyrannical measures imposed by the federal government. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public. While originally the amendments applied only to the federal government, most of their provisions have since been held to apply to the states by way of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The amendments were introduced by James Madison to the 1st United States Congress as a series of legislative articles . They were adopted by the House of Representatives, and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791. While twelve amendments were passed by Congress, only ten were originally passed by the states. Originally, the Bill of Rights legally protected only land-owning white men, excluding African Americans and women. Even though these limitations were not explicit in the Bill of Right's text, it took additional Constitutional Amendments and numerous Supreme Court cases to extend the same rights to all U.S. citizens.
One of the earliest documents used as a model for drafting the American Bill of Rights was the English Bill of Rights of 1689, one of the fundamental documents of English constitutional law. The English Bill of Rights differed substantially in form and intent from the American Bill of Rights, because it was intended to address the rights of citizens as represented by Parliament against the Crown. However, some of its basic tenets were adopted and extended by the U.S. Bill of Rights, including the right of petition, an independent judiciary, freedom of speech, freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, and freedom to bear arms.
To prevent the federal government from assuming too much power, those who opposed the Constitution, the "Anti-Federalists", demanded a Bill of Rights, specifically designed to protect individual liberties. However, the idea of adding a bill of rights to the Constitution met with some resistance from the Federalists. For example, Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 84, argued against a Bill of Rights, asserting that ratification of the Constitution did not mean the American people were surrendering their rights, and, therefore, that protections were unnecessary. Other Federalists claimed that the new government could not violate the peoples' rights because it only had limited powers. However, most state legislatures refused to ratify the Constitution without the addition of a Bill of Rights to the document. James Madison, who believed it was unnecessary to guarantee people's rights explicitly when the federal government had such limited powers, nevertheless recognized that Congress should respond to the demands of the state conventions and authored the text of the Bill of Rights, passed as amendments to the Constitution in 1791.
Brief Summary of the Bill of Rights Articles:
First Amendment: establishment clause, free exercise clause; freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition.
Second Amendment: establishes the right of the state to having militia and the right of the individual to keep and bear arms.
Third Amendment: establishes protection from quartering of troops.
Fourth Amendment: establishes protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
Fifth Amendment: guarantees due process, prohibits double jeopardy, protects against self-incrimination, establishes eminent domain.
Sixth Amendment: guarantees trial by jury and rights of the accused; Confrontation Clause, speedy trial, public trial, right to counsel.
Seventh Amendment: guarantees civil trial by jury.
Eighth Amendment: prohibits of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment.
Ninth Amendment: protects the rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
Tenth Amendment: establishes powers of States and people.
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