Waarom bevat die grondwet die handves van regte?

Waarom bevat die grondwet die handves van regte?



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Vryheid van spraak, godsdiens en die pers. Die reg om te vergader, wapens te dra en die regte proses. Dit is slegs enkele van die eerste tien wysigings wat die Handves van Regte uitmaak. Maar hulle is nie in die oorspronklike Amerikaanse grondwet opgeneem nie, en James Madison, die hoofopstel van die wetsontwerp, moes oortuig word dat hulle in die land se hoogste wet hoort.

Madison was eintlik eens die belangrikste teenstander van die Handves van Regte. In sy boek, Die eed en die kantoor: 'N Gids tot die Grondwet vir toekomstige presidente, Skryf Corey Brettschneider, professor in politieke wetenskap aan die Brown -universiteit, toe die stigter in 1788 as kandidaat vir die staat Virginia in die stryd om die kongres ingeskryf het, die vraag of Amerika 'n Handves van Regte benodig, 'n oorheersende veldtogkwessie was. George Mason, 'n mede -Virginiër, het geweier om die Grondwet te onderteken sonder 'n Handves van Regte. Maar Madison het aangevoer dit was onnodig en miskien selfs skadelik.

Sy redenasie? "Madison het dalk soos 'n meester -sjef gevoel wat 'n beskermheer kyk wat ketchup oor sy perfek gebakte biefstuk gooi," skryf Brettschneider. 'Hy het sy werk met die opstel van die Grondwet so deeglik geag dat daar niks te wysig was nie: Artikel I beperk die magte van die kongres en artikel II beperk die president. 'N Handves van regte was op sy beste oorbodig - en in die ergste geval gevaarlik. "

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Madison en baie van die opstellers was ook bekommerd dat 'n uitdruklike waarborg van regte te beperkend sou wees, voeg Brettschneider by.

'Hulle het geglo dat die struktuur van die nuwe grondwet op sigself perke aan die regering plaas, en daarom was hulle bekommerd dat die regering, deur 'n paar regte op te noem, sou dink dat dit die mag gehad het om enigiets te doen wat dit nie uitdruklik verbied is nie,' sê hy.

Virginians het egter nie vertrou dat artikel I en II hul regte sou beskerm nie, en volgens Brettschneider het hulle so 'n wetsontwerp geëis. Madison, deels vir politieke oorlewing, het uiteindelik 'n veldtog gevoer om 'n Handves van Regte in te stel en sy verkiesing teen James Monroe gewen.

Tony Williams, senior leermeester by die Bill of Rights Institute, sê Thomas Jefferson het deur middel van 'n reeks briewe uit Parys gehelp om Madison te oorreed om ook van plan te verander.

"'N Handves van regte is waarop die mense geregtig is teen enige regering op aarde, algemeen of spesifiek, en wat geen regering moet weier of op afleiding berus nie," skryf Jefferson in 'n brief van 20 Desember 1787 aan Madison.

Maar nog belangriker, sê Williams, Madison wou die opposisie van die anti-federaliste teen die nuwe regering onderdruk deur 'n handves van regte in die eerste kongres voor te stel.

"Die federaliste het die antifederaliste ook wysigings belowe wat die regte beskerm tydens die bekragtigingsdebat, en hy wou die belofte nakom," sê hy.

Madison, met die taak om die nuwe wysigings op te stel, het 'n paar van sy bekommernisse aangespreek deur die negende wysiging in te sluit, dat die regte van die staat nie beperk is tot dié wat in die Grondwet genoem word nie en die tiende wysiging, wat die federale regering se bevoegdhede beperk tot diegene wat spesifiek in die Grondwet en die wysigings daarvan.

"Die Handves van Regte is belangrike bewerings van natuurlike en burgerregte van die individu, en die kritieke negende wysiging is 'n herinnering daaraan dat mense ander regte het wat nie in die eerste agt wysigings genoem word nie," sê Williams.

Op grond van Mason se Virginia -verklaring van regte, sowel as die Britse Magna Carta en ander dokumente, stel Madison die Handves van Regte op 8 Junie 1789 in die kongres voor en word dit op 15 Desember 1791 bekragtig.

Brettschneider sê dat demokrasie dikwels as meerderheidsregering beteken, maar die Handves van Regte bevat baie waarborge van minderheidsregte wat net so nodig is vir selfregering.

"Die eerste wysiging van die reg op vrye spraak beteken dat burgers hul leiers kan kritiseer sonder om strafbaar te wees," sê hy. 'Die reg op vergaderings, ook in die eerste wysiging, beteken dat burgers die regeringsbeleid waarmee ons nie saamstem nie, kan protesteer.

Ander regte wat in die dokument verklaar word, verseker dat burgers nie willekeurig deur die staat behandel word nie. Ingevolge die vyfde wysiging word alle burgers 'n "behoorlike proses" in die regstelsel gewaarborg. Die agtste wysiging verseker intussen deur die verbod op 'wrede en ongewone' straf, dat die regering nie strafreg kan gebruik om, soos Brettschneider sê, 'burgers gemaklik en bang te maak' nie.

'Dit is duidelik dat persone en eiendom die twee belangrikste onderwerpe is waarop die regering moet optree,' het Madison in 'n toespraak van 1829 in Virginia gesê, 'en dat die regte van persone en die eiendomsreg die voorwerp is, ter beskerming waarvan die regering ingestel is. "


Die eerste grondwet in die geskiedenis van Amerika het veel te wense oorgelaat by die sentrale regering. Dit is die Konfederasie -artikels genoem. Die fokus was op die state, amper asof elke staat sy eie land was, met sy eie geldeenheid en selfs sy eie buitelandse beleid.

Daar was verskeie kwessies wat die federale regering, soos destyds, daarvan weerhou het om suksesvol te wees en in sommige gevalle glad nie bruikbaar was nie. Dit was byna onmoontlik om hierdie eerste grondwet aan te pas, want daar moes eenparig ooreengekom word oor enige veranderinge. Dit het ook geen finansiële steun van die sentrale regering moontlik gemaak nie. Om al hierdie redes en nog vele meer het die Grondwetlike Konvensie in Mei 1787 in Philadelphia vergader om 'n paar broodnodige veranderings aan die dokument aan te bring.


Waarom is die handves van regte by die grondwet van die Verenigde State gevoeg?

Die Handves van Regte is by die Grondwet van die Verenigde State gevoeg om die beskerming van die mense teen 'n sterk sentrale regering te waarborg. Dit was 'n kompromie tussen die federaliste en anti-federaliste om die bekragtiging van die Grondwet te bereik.

Die Handves van Regte was die eerste tien wysigings aan die Amerikaanse Grondwet. Dit is een van die mees historiese en waardevolle dokumente wat die grondslag van basiese Amerikaanse vryhede is. Die Handves van Regte het amptelik deel geword van die Grondwet op 15 Desember 1791. Die wette daarvan spesifiseer die fundamentele regte van die Amerikaanse burgers.

Die oorspronklike Grondwet van die Verenigde State, wat in 1787 voorgestel is, het baie min individuele regte vir die mense gebied. Tydens die Grondwetlike Konvensie het sommige afgevaardigdes, bekend as die Anti-Federaliste, aangedring op die toevoeging van 'n handves van regte tot die Grondwet. Hulle was bang dat 'n sterk federale regering sy burgers sou misbruik, tensy waarborge van basiese regte en vryhede verskaf is. Hulle het aangevoer vir verskeie wysigings, waaronder godsdiensvryheid, vryheid van spraak en pers, die reg op buitensporige borgtog en boetes en vir beskerming teen onredelike soektogte en beslagleggings. Baie van die voorgestelde bepalings beperk die bevoegdhede van die federale regering.

Alhoewel die federaliste die byvoeging van die Handves van Regte onnodig geag het, moes hulle hul steun belowe sodat die Grondwet bekragtig kan word.


Daar is 'n sterk versoeking om die verhaal van die Amerikaanse handves van regte te beskou as deel van 'n groter verhaal wat begin met Magna Carta in 1215 en tot in die een-en-twintigste eeu voortduur met kommer oor menseregte oor die hele wêreld, kortliks oor hoe Amerikaners 'n handves van regte voorgestel en goedgekeur. Die chronologiese fokus van hierdie ses-en-twintig keuses is smaller: die konteks is hoofsaaklik tussen 1776 en 1791.

Die groter vraag oor hoe die Britse en koloniale erfenis in die Amerikaanse verhaal pas, word dus slegs kortliks behandel (dokumente 1-2). Van groot belang in hierdie kort verslag is dat die regte wat in die Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641) ingesluit is, numeries belangriker is as dié in Magna Carta (1215) en die Engelse Handves van Regte (1689). En so is die regte wat in die Maryland Toleration Acts genoem word. Ons bevat hierdie twee koloniale dokumente om die leser daaraan te herinner dat Amerikaners selfs voor die stigtingsera van 1776–1791 besorg was oor regte, veral godsdienstige regte. Drie regte word eenparig verteenwoordig in al die staatsgrondwette: die gewetensreg/vrye uitoefening van godsdiens die reg om 'n saak van 'n plaaslike onpartydige jurie te laat hoor en die regte van die gemenereg. Die opstellers van die nuwe staatsdokumente het besluit dat hierdie laaste regte onder die tradisionele regeringsreëlings nie meer veilig is nie. Ons beskou dit as belangrik dat die nuwe state hulself as republikeins verklaar het en dat die doel van 'n republikeinse regering was om regte te verseker.

Sewe state het 'n voorlopige verklaring van regte aan die regeringsraamwerk geheg: Virginia (Junie 1776), Delaware (September 1776), Pennsylvania (September 1776), Maryland (November 1776), Noord -Carolina (Desember 1776), Massachusetts (Maart 1780) , en New Hampshire (Junie 1784). Hierdie verklarings was in werklikheid 'n aanhef van die doeleindes waarvoor die volk die spesifieke regeringsvorm gekies het. Daar was 'n merkwaardige eenvormigheid onder die sewe state met betrekking tot die soorte burgerlike en kriminele regte wat hulle wou beveilig.

Vier state het besluit om nie hul republikeinse grondwette voor te stel met 'n verklaring van regte nie: New Jersey (Julie 1776), Georgia (Februarie 1777), New York (April 1777) en South Carolina (Maart 1778). Tog het elkeen individuele beskerming in hul grondwette opgeneem.

Virginia het onbekende gebied binnegekom met die stigting van die Anglikaanse kerk in 1779. Tog was daar twee mededingende modelle waarna wetgewers hulle kon wend. Die Massachusetts -model onderskryf die oprigting van die Christelike Protestantse godsdiens en daarvoor is die wetgewer grondwetlik verplig om inwoners te belas vir die ondersteuning van openbare godsdiensonderrig. Die belastingbetaler was nietemin vry om die spesifieke godsdiens wat die aanslag sou ontvang, te noem. Aan die ander kant het die Pennsylvania -model gewaarsku dat sodanige belasting die reg van 'n individu op die vrye uitoefening van godsdiens bedreig. In Desember 1784 het die Virginia -vergadering 'n beoordelingswetsontwerp oorweeg, in ooreenstemming met die Massachusetts -model, wat die voortplanting van die Christendom as staatsgodsdiens finansieel sou ondersteun. James Madison maak beswaar daarteen. Die skrywer van 'n protes wat aan die Virginia -vergadering gerig is (dokument 7), het Madison die wetgewers aangemoedig om die voorgestelde wetgewing te verwerp. In die proses het Madison die nasionale gesprek nog verder gestoot in die rigting van individuele vrye uitoefening van godsdiens en weg van godsdiens wat deur die gemeenskap onderskryf word. Die praktiese uiting van Madison se pogings was die aanneming van die Virginia -vergadering in 1785 van Jefferson se Statuut van godsdiensvryheid wat in 1779 ingestel is. Die senaat van Virginia het die statuut in Januarie 1786 aangeneem. Dokument 8).

'N Jaar nadat die Virginia -statuut by die Grondwetlike Konvensie (Mei tot September 1787) aangeneem is, het die eerste van George Mason se tien besware teen die Grondwet begin: "There is no declaration of rights" (Document 9). In die besonder, "is daar geen verklaring vir die behoud van die persvryheid, die verhoor deur die jurie in siviele sake nie, en ook nie teen die gevaar van staande leërs in tye van vrede nie." Mason se standpunt was dat 'n federale menseregte noodsaaklik en waardevol is. Hy was bekommerd dat die Kongres die oppergesag en die nodige en behoorlike klousules van die Grondwet sou misbruik (onderskeidelik artikels 6 en 1, artikel 8). Die oppergesagsklousule het federale wette “van die grootste belang gestel vir die wette en grondwette van die verskillende state”. “Die verklaring van regte in die afsonderlike state het dus geen veiligheid nie.” Die nodige en behoorlike klousule het die Kongres in staat gestel om “monopolieë in handel en handel toe te staan, nuwe misdade te vorm, ongewone en ernstige strawwe toe te pas en hul mag uit te brei sover hulle dit reg dink”.

Tydens die bekragtigingsveldtog van nege maande het die voorstanders van die Grondwet die afwesigheid van 'n handves van regte verdedig. James Wilson se staatsrede (dokument 10), gelewer in Philadelphia drie weke nadat die grondwetlike konvensie verdaag het, verwoord wat bekend staan ​​as die federalistiese standpunt: 'n handves van regte is onnodig en gevaarlik. Wilson het aangevoer dat op staatsvlak 'n handves van regte nodig en heilsaam was omdat "alles wat nie voorbehou is nie, gegee word", maar "oorbodig en absurd" op federale vlak omdat "alles wat nie gegee word nie, voorbehou is." Wilson se toespraak het in die herfs van 1787 die foelie geword vir die antifederalistiese opposisieliteratuur (dokumente 11–15). Teen die einde van die bekragtigingsveldtog herhaal Federalist 84 (dokument 19) die aandrang van Wilson dat 'n republikeinse regeringsvorm nie 'n handves van regte nodig het nie, omdat sulke wetsontwerpe "in hul oorsprong bepalings tussen konings en hul onderdane is, afkortings van prerogatief ten gunste van voorreg, voorbehoude van regte wat nie aan die prins oorgegee is nie. ”

Vroeg in Januarie 1788 het die bekragtigende konvensies in Delaware (30–0 stemme), Pennsylvania (46–23), New Jersey (38–0), Georgia (26–0) en Connecticut (128–40) die Grondwet bekragtig . Die verslag wat deur die drie-en-twintig Pennsylvania-opponente uitgereik is, het 'n aansienlike impak op die daaropvolgende veldtog (dokument 15). Die verslag stel twee verskillende soorte wysigings voor. Aan die een kant het die minderheid versoek om wysigings wat die beginsels van die Statute van die Konfederasie weer sal vestig. Dit was onvriendelik vir die Grondwet. Aan die ander kant het hulle voorgestel dat 'n verklaring van regte by die Grondwet gevoeg word. Dit was vriendelike wysigings. Wat konsepte geword het van die eerste, vierde, vyfde, sesde, sewende en agtste wysiging van die Grondwet, is op hul lys ingesluit, hoewel die oorsprong van hierdie wysigings teruggevoer kan word na koloniale dokumente en staatsgrondwette.

Die lot van die Grondwet is bepaal in die bekragtigingskonvensies van Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia en New York in die eerste helfte van 1788. Antifederalistiese literatuur in die herfs van 1787 het 'n nadelige uitwerking op die veldtog vir bekragtiging gehad. 'N Kompromie -' bekragtig nou, wysig later ' - was in elk van hierdie vier state nodig om bekragtiging te verseker (dokumente 17-18). In Massachusetts het tien afgevaardigdes hul stemme verander en 'n meerderheid van 187-168 het die Grondwet bekragtig. 'N Skakeling van vyf stemme het verseker dat beide New Hampshire (57-47) en Virginia (89-79) bekragtig word. In New York was die Antifederaliste in die konvensie met 'n marge van 46-19 groter as die federaliste, maar uiteindelik is die Grondwet bekragtig met 'n stem van 30-27.

Die antifederalistiese opposisie en vriende van die Grondwet het twee verskillende aanbevelings gemaak. Eerstens het sommige gevra dat die struktuur en bevoegdhede van die nuwe federale regering verander moet word. Tweedens het ander probeer om die regte van individue ten opsigte van die federale regering te beskerm. Al nege Massachusetts se aanbevelings is van die eerste soort. New Hampshire was die eerste om 'n kort verklaring van die regte van burgers by die lys van wysigings te voeg. In Virginia en New York is die twee soorte wysigings uitdruklik geskei.

Met die bekragtiging van die Grondwet, ondersteun James Madison (1751–1836), wat soveel gedoen het om dit tot stand te bring, [1] die goedkeuring van 'n handves van regte, terwyl hy beswaar maak teen wysigings wat die struktuur van die nuwe regering ingrypend sou verander en krag (Dokument 22). Hy het dit gedoen om teoretiese en omsigtigheidsredes. Madison distansieer hom van Wilson se argument dat 'n handves van regte gevaarlik sowel as onnodig kan wees. Hy het die gevaar van die notering van regte oorwin - die lys kan as definitief beskou word en sodoende die regte van die burgers beperk eerder as om dit te beskerm - deur te verklaar dat die opsomming van 'sekere regte' nie uitgelê mag word om ander wat deur die mense behou word, te ontken of te minag nie. . ” Dit het uiteindelik die negende wysiging geword en is 'n volledige bydrae van Madison. Die omsigtigheidsredes was onder meer versoening van “eerbare en patriotiese” teenstanders wat die Grondwet wou “hersien” deur 'n handves van regte op te neem en die oproep om 'n tweede konvensie wat die Grondwet sou “afskaf” te verslaan (dokument 21). Hy beskou die Eerste Kongres as die 'regte manier' om die doel van hersiening te bereik. Wat die teoretiese en omsigtigheidsredes saamgevoeg het, was dat Madison nie wou hê dat 'n tweede byeenkoms sou plaasvind nie.

Die korrespondensie tussen Madison in die Verenigde State en Thomas Jefferson in Parys is 'n kritieke deel van die verhaal van die aanneming van die Handves van Regte, van die ondertekening van die Grondwet tot en met die bekragtigingsveldtog tot by die Eerste Kongres (Dokumente 16, 20, en 21). In sy brief van 24 Oktober 1788 het Madison die politieke en etiese probleem wat deur die Grondwet opgelos sou word, opgesom: "Om onstabiliteit en onreg in die wetgewing van die state te voorkom." Wat Madison kon bereik, verduidelik hy aan Jefferson, was die oprigting van 'n uitgebreide republiek wat die burgerlike en godsdienstige regte van individue sou beskerm teen die gevaar van meerderheidsfaksie. Jefferson het twee maande later gunstig gereageer op die voorgestelde grondwet. Hy was egter ontsteld oor die argument van Wilson dat 'n handves van regte nie onnodig was nie. Hy herinner Madison daaraan dat ''n handves van regte die mense geregtig is op elke regering op aarde, algemeen of spesifiek, en waarop geen regverdige regering moet weier nie, of op afleiding berus.' Hy noem ses noodsaaklike regte wat verklaar moet word: "godsdiensvryheid, persvryheid, beskerming teen staande leërs, beperking van monopolieë, die ewige en onophoudelike krag van die habeas corpus -wette, en verhore deur die jurie in alle aangeleenthede." Jefferson herhaal die belangrikheid daarvan om sy lys van ses regte op te neem nadat hy deur Madison in kennis gestel is dat die Grondwet aanvaar is.

In sy eerste inhuldigingstoespraak (30 April 1789) het George Washington slegs twee spesifieke kwessies aangespreek: sy vergoeding, wat hy van die hand gewys het, en die kongres se "uitoefening van die af en toe bevoegdheid wat deur die vyfde artikel van die Grondwet gedelegeer is", die bevoegdheid om te wysig die Grondwet. Hy het gevra dat 'alhoewel u elke verandering wat die voordele van 'n verenigde en effektiewe regering in gevaar stel, noukeurig vermy, 'n eerbied vir die kenmerkende regte van vrymanne u beraadslagings oor die vraag voldoende sal beïnvloed, in hoeverre eersgenoemde ondeurgrondelik versterk kan word of laasgenoemde veilig en voordelig bevorder word. ” Madison het Washington se aanbeveling gevolg om 'n handves van regte voor te stel wat terselfdertyd nie die werk van die Grondwetlike Konvensie verander het nie. Dit het Madison se uitdaging geword tydens die eerste kongres (dokument 22).

Die debat van die Huis van Verteenwoordigers oor Madison se voorstelle is nie sonder ironie nie (dokument 23). Roger Sherman, waarskynlik die voorste en mees oortuigende teenstander van Madison tydens die strukturele fase van die Philadelphia -konvensie van 1787, het beswaar gemaak teen die poging van Madison om die byvoeging van die regte toevoegings "netjies" in die grondwet van die Grondwet op te neem. As die hersienings bygevoeg word as 'aanvullings' of as wysigings aan die Grondwet, meen Madison, 'sal dit ongunstige vergelyking met die oorspronklike Grondwet skep'. Sherman het egter die oorhand gekry. Volgens hom moet die oorspronklike werk van die raamwerk ongeskonde bly. Sherman het boonop sy kollegas aangespoor om die onafhanklikheidsverklaring in die aanhef op te neem: 'Die woorde' Ons die mense 'in die oorspronklike grondwet is so groot en ekspressief as moontlik. ” Aan die ander kant was Sherman 'n belangrike bondgenoot in die verset van die pogings van die afvaardiging van Suid -Carolina om wysigings aan te bring wat 'die beginsels van die regering sou verander'. Die senaat het die aantal wysigingsvoorstelle van sewentien tot twaalf verminder. Daardeur het die senaat die voorstel van Madison se huis om die gewetensvryheid en die pers op staats- en nasionale vlak te beskerm, verslaan, wat die beskerming slegs op nasionale vlak beperk. Die senaat het ook die beskerming van gewete en die pers saamgevoeg in een wysiging (dokument 24). Die Senaatweergawe is deur die hele kongres, met geringe hersiening, aanvaar en as twaalf wysigings aan die state voorgelê vir goedkeuring (dokument 25). Tien is deur driekwart van die staatswetgewers bekragtig (dokument 26).

Vanuit Madison se perspektief was Richard Henry Lee en William Grayson - beide radikale antifederaliste en die enigste antifederaliste in die Amerikaanse senaat - totaal onsuksesvol in hul poging om die mag en struktuur van die Grondwet terug te skuif in die rigting van die Statute van die Konfederasie . Hulle verkies dit bo die aanneming van 'n handves van regte wat die idee versterk dat die Grondwet 'n beperkende sowel as 'n bemagtigende dokument is.

Van sy kant af was Madison minder as heeltemal suksesvol met sy voorstelle vir die handves van regte. Min lede het die dringende gevoel van Madison gedeel dat vriendskaplike veranderinge teen die einde van die eerste sessie aan die state gestuur moet word. Die regte beland nie uiteindelik in die Grondwet waar hy dit wou hê nie. Die aantal regte is verminder uit die oorspronklike lys van Madison (dokument 22) en verskeie klousules, veral die godsdiensklousules, is deeglik ondersoek en ingrypend ondergaan. Madison se poging om die state sowel as die nasie te beperk op die gebied van gewete, pers en jurie, is in die senaat verslaan. Die Handves van Regte, soos dit aangeneem is, was slegs van toepassing op die federale regering. Die benaming “Vader van die Handves van Regte” behoort dus versigtig gebruik te word. Tog is dit beslis waar dat Madison se volharding van kritieke belang was dat twaalf wysigings aan die einde van die eerste sessie aan die state gestuur is, en nie toevallig nie, vir die daaropvolgende aanneming van die oorspronklike grondwet deur Noord -Carolina en Rhode Island.

Die aanneming van die Handves van Regte was 'n mengselbeginsel en politiek. [2] Dit val nie net uit die hemel in een geheel en verstaanbare vorm nie. Die Handves van Regte bevat weliswaar baie van die Engelse gemenereg en die koloniale tradisionele proses, maar dit het ook baie van die feodale en monargiese kenmerke van hierdie tradisie afgeskaf. Amerikaners het tussen 1776 en 1791 ook 'n beroep op hul tradisies gedoen om gewetensvryheid, spraakvryheid en verbeterde regte van regsproses te ondersteun.

Madison, bekend as "die Vader van die Grondwet", is die kern van ons dokumentêre verslag oor die oorsprong en politiek van die Handves van Regte, van Virginia in 1776 tot die Eerste Kongres in 1789. Gedurende hierdie tyd was Madison se standpunt oor die Handves van regte verander, ten minste gedeeltelik as gevolg van sy verhouding met Jefferson. Om die belangrikheid van hierdie verhouding te sien, moet ons dit in die konteks van die Virginia -politiek plaas, wat die boeksteun bied aan die verhaal van die Handves van Regte. George Mason het die Virginia -verklaring van regte in Junie 1776 geskryf (met die voorgestelde wysiging van Madison se gewetensreg). Die Verklaring van Regte was 'n invloed op Jefferson toe hy die Onafhanklikheidsverklaring geskryf het. Mason het ook aan die Grondwetlike Konvensie voorgestel dat 'n handves van regte aanvaar word. Madison het Mason in die konvensie daaroor gekant. 'N Paar jaar later, in Desember 1791, het Virginia uiteindelik die Handves van Regte aangeneem, met Madison as die leier van die voorstander van aanneming en Mason in opposisie. Waarom het Virginia die proses begin, die leiding geneem in die debatte en dan so lank vertraag om die Handves van Regte te bekragtig? Die antwoord is 'n onversoenbare kloof tussen antifederaliste. Daar was diegene wat die nuwe Amerikaanse stelsel fundamenteel wou verander en diegene wat die Grondwet vriendelik was. Laasgenoemde wou die nuwe regering in bedwang hou met 'n handves van regte. Tussen 1787 en 1791 het Mason een van diegene geword wat fundamentele verandering wou hê, terwyl Madison, altyd 'n vriend van die Grondwet, een van diegene was wat bereid was om dit te verander deur 'n handves van regte by te voeg. Hy het hierdie verandering aangebring met die hulp van Jefferson (dokumente 16, 20–22).

[1] Sien die metgeselle Die Amerikaanse stigting: kerndokumente (Ashland, Ohio: Ashbrook Press, 2017) en Die Grondwetlike Konvensie: Kerndokumente (Ashland, Ohio: Ashbrook Press, 2018), albei geredigeer deur Gordon Lloyd.

[2] James Madison aan Richard Peters, 19 Augustus 1789. Hierdie brief, georganiseer rondom sewe temas, is 'n model van prinsipiële leierskap op sy beste, dit sluit aan by die nodige met die regte.

Studievrae

Vir elk van die dokumente in hierdie versameling stel ons hieronder in afdeling A vrae voor wat slegs relevant is vir daardie dokument en in afdeling B vrae wat vergelyking tussen dokumente vereis.

1. Die Massachusetts Body of Liberties, Desember 1641
A. Watter regte word beskerm in hierdie koloniale dokument? Hoe word hulle beskerm?
B. Watter verskille en ooreenkomste bestaan ​​in die Massachusetts Body of Liberties en die vroeë staatsgrondwette wat die tipe regte betref? Verwys die Massachusetts Body of Liberties byvoorbeeld na vryheid van gewete en persvryheid? Sien dokumente 3, 5 en 6.

2. Die Maryland -wet oor godsdiens, 21 April 1649
A. Vind u dit vreemd dat die Maryland Act tegelyk die vestiging van die Christelike godsdiens en die verdraagsaamheid van godsdiens as sentrale beginsels kan verklaar?
B. Vergelyk die Maryland -wet met die vroeë staatsgrondwette en Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance. Sien dokumente 3, 4, 5, 6 en 7.

3. Virginia -verklaring van regte en grondwet, 12 en 29 Junie, 1776
A. Lyk dit vreemd dat a) die Virginia -verklaring en die Virginia -grondwet twee weke uitmekaar geskryf is en dat b) die afsluiting van die onafhanklikheidsverklaring voorafgegaan het? Wat is die doel van die regering volgens hierdie twee dokumente? Wat is die rol van die wetgewer, uitvoerende gesag en regbank in die nuut aangeneem Virginia -grondwet? Watter soort “republikanisme” gee hierdie twee dokumente uiting? Is dit verbasend dat die Verklaring van Regte die Grondwet voorafgaan?
B. Met watter gesag is die Virginia -verklaring van regte en grondwet begin en aanvaar? Vergelyk en kontrasteer die inhoud van die Virginia -verklaring van regte met koloniale en ander staatsgebaseerde dokumente. Sien dokumente 1, 2, 4 en 6.

4. Die New Jersey -grondwet, 3 Julie 1776
A. New Jersey was die eerste staat wat 'n verklaring van regte in die grondwet self opgeneem het. Maak dit saak waar die verklaring in die grondwet geleë is? Wat het die New Jersey -grondwet te sê oor godsdienstige regte?
B. Watter verskil maak dit indien die regteverklaring aan die begin is of in die dokument ingevoeg word? Vergelyk dit met dokumente 3, 5 en 6. Is dit vreemd dat beide die verklarings van Virginia en New Jersey voor die onafhanklikheidsverklaring geskryf is?

5. Die Pennsylvania -verklaring van regte en grondwet, 28 September 1776
A. In watter mate omvat die Pennsylvania -dokument sowel die gemeneregstradisie as die nuwe tradisie van natuurlike regte?
B. John Adams het geoordeel dat die Pennsylvania Bill of Rights “byna woordeliks van die van Virginia geneem is”. Is Adams reg? Sien dokument 3.

6. Die Massachusetts -verklaring van regte en grondwet, 2 Maart 1780
A. Hoe is dit moontlik dat die mense die reg het om van die burgers te eis om die stigting van openbare godsdiens finansieel te ondersteun? Nie een spesifieke sekte het voorkeur bo 'n ander gehad nie, almal was "ewe onder die beskerming van die wet" en dus is die 'vrye uitoefening' van godsdiens beskerm. Verduidelik hierdie eksplisiete verband tussen vrye uitoefening van godsdiens en gelykheid onder die wet.
B. Na Virginia en Pennsylvania is die behoefte aan "vroomheid, geregtigheid, matigheid, matigheid, industrie en spaarsaamheid" in die Handves van Regte vermeld. Is hierdie ses deugde verenigbaar met die twee godsdiensklousules? Sien dokumente 3, 5 en 7.

7. James Madison's Memorial And Remonstrance, 20 Junie 1785
A. Hoe herinner Madison die wetgewers van 1783 daaraan dat hulle die beginsels van gewetensvryheid wat Virginians in 1776 aangeneem het, ondermyn het?
B. Is Madison's Memorial en Remonstrance uit voeling met die godsdiensklousules van die staatsgrondwette? Sien dokumente 3-6.

8. Die Noordwes -verordening, 13 Julie 1787
A. Watter soort land beoog die opstellers van die Noordwes -verordening vir die volgende generasie Amerikaners?
B. Hoe vergelyk die verklarings namens individuele godsdiensregte en die openbare ondersteuning van godsdiens met die stellings in Dokumente 3–6?

9. Besware by die Konstitusionele Konvensie, 10, 12, 15 en 17 September 1787
A. Is daar ooreenkomste tussen die besware teen die Grondwet wat deur Edmund Randolph, Elbridge Gerry en George Mason genoem word? Toon hul onenigheid 'n bewonderenswaardige kenmerk van die Amerikaanse eksperiment? Ander afgevaardigdes het voorbehoude gehad, maar hulle het steeds onderteken.
B. Vind dit u vreemd dat Edmund Randolph, wat die Virginia -plan ingestel en verdedig het, beswaar aangeteken het teen die ondertekening van die Grondwet? Hoe vergelyk hierdie teenstrydighede namens 'n handves van regte met die dokumente in hierdie versameling? Sien dokumente 3-7.

10. Spraak van die staatshuis van James Wilson, 6 Oktober 1787
A. Hierdie toespraak deur Wilson ontstel baie prominente opposisiepolitici en skrywers. Wat is so uitlokkend aan hierdie toespraak?
B. Wat is die sentrale argument van die antifederalistiese opposisie? Sien dokumente 11–14.

11. Die Federale Boer IV, 12 Oktober 1787
A. Die Federale Boer beklemtoon die belangrikheid van 'n handves van regte reg aan die begin van die bekragtigingsveldtog. Wat is sy argumente ten gunste van 'n handves van regte?
B. Wat is die besware van die federale boer teen die toespraak van die staatshuis van James Wilson? Sien dokument 10. Sien ook dokument 19.

12. Richard Henry Lee aan Edmund Randolph, 16 Oktober 1787
A. Watter regte is noodsaaklik vir Richard Henry Lee? Waarom bevat die voorgestelde Grondwet die potensiaal om hierdie regte kwesbaar te maak?
B. Hoe vergelyk Lee se wesenlike regte met dié wat in die Thomas Jefferson – James Madison -uitruilings geopenbaar is? Sien dokumente 16, 20, 21–22.

13. 'n Old Whig IV, 27 Oktober 1787
A. What are An Old Whig’s arguments on behalf of a small republic and a bill of rights?
B. Compare the Old Whig’s argument with the argument of Federalist 10. See Document 19 in the American Founding Document. Is there a coherence to the Antifederalist argument? See Documents 9, 11, 12, 14, 15.

14. Brutus II, November 1, 1787
A. Brutus makes the absence of the Bill of Rights a key issue in the ratification campaign. Does his argument make sense? What rights does Brutus deem “essential”?
B. Are there good reasons why James Wilson and The Federalist dismiss the absence of a bill of rights as a vital issue in the proposed Constitution? See Documents 10–12, 19.

15. The Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania, December 18, 1787
A. What rights did the Pennsylvania Minority consider to be essential?
B. Compare the objections to the Constitution expressed by the Pennsylvania Minority to those raised at the Virginia and New York Ratifying Conventions. See Documents 17 and 18.

16. Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, December 20, 1787
A. What are the six essential rights that Thomas Jefferson states should be included in a Declaration of Rights?
B. Why does Thomas Jefferson disagree with the approach taken by James Wilson in his State House Speech? Which of the six rights mentioned by Jefferson does James Madison endorse? See Documents 10, 21 and 22.

17. The Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 24–June 27, 1787
A. What is the difference between an adoption of the Constitution with previous amendments and adoption with subsequent amendments? Do previous amendments open the door to the possibility of secession? How does the discussion over how to adopt the Constitution enhance our understanding of what is and is not a republican and a federal government?
B. How do the amendment and bill of rights proposals compare and contrast with those listed in the New York ratifying document? See Document 18. Is James Madison’s argument against a bill of rights the same as that articulated by James Wilson? See Document 10.

18. New York Ratifying Convention, June 17–July 25, 1788
A. What is the difference between the adoption of the Constitution with previous or conditional amendments and adoption with subsequent or recommended amendments? What are the differences between the content of the twenty-five items in the Bill of Rights proposed at the New York convention and the thirty-one items in the proposed amendments?
B. How do the amendment and bill of rights proposals compare and contrast with those listed in the Virginia ratifying document? See Document 17. How many of the amendment proposals and the Bill of Rights proposals make their way into the Bill of Rights adopted in 1791? See Document 26.

19. Federalist 84, July 16, 1788
A. What are the rights that Publius claims are listed in the proposed Constitution? Why does Publius think the Constitution is a bill of rights?
B. To what extent does Publius repeat, or enlarge upon, the arguments made by James Wilson in his State House Speech? See Document 10.

20. Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, July 31, 1788
A. What rights does Thomas Jefferson think that the general voice of America is calling for?
B. Which of these rights does James Madison include in his proposals to Congress? See Document 22. How does Thomas Jefferson’s list of rights compare with those requested at the Virginia and New York Ratifying Conventions? See Documents 17 and 18. Has his list expanded or contracted from those contained in Document 16?

21. James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788
A. Why did James Madison not view the absence of a bill of rights from the proposed Constitution “in an important light”? How did Madison answer his own question: “What use then it may be asked can a bill of rights serve in popular governments”?
B. Compare James Madison’s less than enthusiastic support for a bill of rights with James Wilson’s State House Speech and Alexander Hamilton’s argument in Federalist 84. See Documents 10 and 19.

22. Representative James Madison Argues for a Bill of Rights, June 8, 1789
A. What is James Madison’s case for the adoption of a bill of rights? Where would he place these thirty-nine constraints on the reach of the federal government? Before the Constitution? Within the Constitution? Or after the Constitution?
B. Compare James Madison’s case here for a bill of rights with his exchange with Thomas Jefferson, Did Madison flip-flop? Are there any surprises in his list of thirty-nine rights? Compare with Documents 16, 20, and 21.

23. The House Version, July 28, August 13–24, 1789
A. Why did the House reject James Madison’s proposal to incorporate the Bill of Rights into the main body of the original Constitution? What alterations did the House make to Madison’s version?
B. How is the House version similar to and different from Madison’s June 8 proposals? See Document 22.

24. The Senate Version, August 25–September 9, 1789
A. Why do we know so little about the debates that took place in the Senate? What important contribution, if any, did the Senate make?
B. How is the Senate version similar to and different from the House version and James Madison’s June 8 version? See Documents 22 and 23.

25. The Congress sends Twelve Amendments to the States, September 25, 1789
A. Are the changes in the religion clauses significant in the final Congress version?
B. What changes took place in the religion clauses over the course of the First Congress? See Documents 22–24.

26. Amendments I–X: The Bill of Rights, December 15, 1789
A. To what extent is the Bill of Rights an individual rights, a group or associational rights, or a states rights document? Why are there ten rather than twelve or seventeen amendments?
B. Why does the Bill of Rights appear as amendments at the end of the Constitution rather than in the Preamble or in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution? See Documents 3, 4, 15, 17, 18, 22 and 23.


Why was the Bill of Rights Added to the Constitution?

Since the most powerful states in the Union would not have ratified the Constitution if not for the Bill of Rights, the Founding generation would be its most ardent defenders. Gun control should never be considered the “Fairness Doctrine” should never reach the floor of Congress for a vote the Patriot Act, which allows the government to use unconstitutional powers, should be revised, amended, or placed in the trash-can religious liberty, including the free expression of religious faith during government functions and prayer in public schools, should be defended the burden of proof in a case involving “violations “of federal “regulations” should be placed on the government, not the accused federal disregard for private property should cease. In short, federal activity should be severely curtailed


Why is the Bill of Rights Important?

Why is the Bill of Rights important? Because even though many Founding Fathers thought they would be assumed and not need constitutional protection, they could be infringed upon if not guaranteed. Among those who thought that constitutional protection was not necessary was Roger Sherman, an early American lawyer and statesmen, along with being a Founding Father who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitutuion.

Sherman’s states’ rights convictions led him to oppose the inclusion of a bill of rights with the Constitution. He believed that by insisting on “federal” guarantees of individual liberty, the new central government could exclude all other rights not listed and thus greatly reduce liberty. He argued that the states already had specific guarantees of rights, and because the new central government would not have the delegated authority to infringe upon those rights, the states could easily protect individual liberty from federal usurpation. His objections were sophisticated and duly noted and ultimately led to the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution.

Why is the Bill of Rights Important?

Sherman was immediately elected as an at-large member of the United States House of Representatives in 1788, where he served one term from 1789 to 1791. He supported a Bank of the United States and the retirement of the federal debt and helped hammer out the compromise that led to the assumption of state debts in return for planting the federal capital along the Potomac, otherwise known as the “assumption scheme.” He was chosen to serve in the United States Senate in 1791 and served there until his death in 1793 at the age of 72.

Sherman can be seen as an Anti-Federalist Federalist. Sherman believed the Constitution granted the federal government limited, delegated authority he believed it maintained states’ rights, and he would not have signed it and supported it otherwise. He was a Connecticuter to the end, the representative and defender of his state, and one who believed that the executive power should be limited because “no one man could be found so far above all the rest in wisdom.” Sherman knew that an unchecked executive is “the very essence of tyranny,” and that the best check on the power of the executive branch of the federal government was the authority of the sovereign states—an observation that seems very distant from where we are now.


Creating the United States Creating the Bill of Rights

Amending the federal Constitution to include a bill of rights was the essential political compromise in the creation of the United States government. Even though Federalists believed that individual rights were fully protected by state and common law, they knew that Anti-Federalists would never embrace the new Constitution until amendments protecting specific rights were adopted.

Therefore, in 1789 Congress passed proposed amendments to the Constitution as one of its first orders of business. Viewed as unnecessary by many and a mere diversion by others, the first ten amendments, which are known as the “Bill of Rights,” became the bedrock of individual rights and liberties.

&ldquoThe Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added.&rdquo


The Bill of Rights

The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

Preamble to the Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights

The document on permanent display in the Rotunda is the enrolled original Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 25, 1789, proposing 12-not 10-amendments to the Constitution.

Read a Transcript | View in National Archives Catalog

The Constitution might never have been ratified if the framers hadn't promised to add a Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution gave citizens more confidence in the new government and contain many of today's Americans' most valued freedoms.


U.S. Constitution

The Constitutional Topics pages at the USConstitution.net site are presented to delve deeper into topics than can be provided on the Glossary Page or in the FAQ pages. This Topic Page concerns The Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the common name for Amendments 1 through 9 (the 10th Amendment is usually included under the heading of "Bill of Rights," since it was ratified with the other nine, but it does not technically recognize any rights).

Americans have been concerned with their rights for hundreds of years. The right to practice religion however they wished was one of the primary reasons the first settlers came to America from England. The right of representation and self-determination was one of the primary reasons the Revolutionary War was fought. The right for all persons to be free was one of the reasons the Civil War was fought. American history is replete with bills of rights, from the most famous included in our Constitution, to the Declaration of Rights prompted by the Stamp Act to the Virginia Declaration of Rights written by George Mason for his state. Even today we speak of the apparently elusive Patient's Bill of Rights.

What is interesting to note is that when the Constitutional Convention finished its work, it did not find it necessary to include a bill of rights in the final version. Several members, notably George Mason, were very disappointed by this decision and refused to sign the document over the issue. The argument was that the Constitution did not give the new federal government the ability to restrict inherent rights, so no list of those rights was necessary. Others worried that if the rights were listed, they would invariably forget some and the list would ever be incomplete. Finally, the argument was that the states each had their own constitutions, too, and that rights were best protected at a state level.

Of all the issues that the Anti-Federalists gave for rejecting the new constitution, the lack of a bill of rights was the most compelling for many people. In the ratifying documents of five states, requests or demands for a bill of rights were included in the text, along with suggested lists (see the ratifying documents of Massachusetts, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York. Rhode Island also included a list, but they ratified the Constitution after the first Congress approved the Bill of Rights).

The Federalists were opposed to adding a bill of rights, expounding on the reasons why in Alexander Hamilton's Federalist 84. Among the reasons listed was a list of the personal protections the new constitution did contain, such as the prohibition of ex post facto laws, the inviolate habeas corpus, prohibition of a religious test to hold office, and restrictions on a conviction of treason. Federalist 85 addressed the subject, too, noting that amendment is always a possibility after ratification. It turns out, once the process of ratification was complete, that this was exactly the route taken.

The first Congress under the Constitution had a lot to accomplish. It had many new powers not available to the Congress under the Articles of Confederation, and every state had interests it wanted to protect. James Madison, seen by many as the father of the Constitution, had won a seat in the House of Representatives, running partly on a platform that included a fight for a bill of rights. This may seem odd since Madison was one of those who advocated the omission of such a list of rights, but he eventually became convinced of the necessity.

Madison tried to get the debate moving, but debate on tariffs and other pressing issues always pushed the debate on a bill of rights to the back burner. Madison finally had enough and on June 8, 1789, he presented his draft of a bill of rights to get the discussion moving.

From June to September, both houses of Congress debated Madison's list, along with the lists presented by the states. Rights were enumerated, removed, modified, tweaked. Eventually, both houses agreed on twelve articles of amendment and sent them to the states. Two years later, in 1791, the last ten of these original twelve were ratified by the states and they became a part of the Constitution. By custom, the amendments were added to the end of the original document, rather than inserted in the text, as Madison had envisioned. All ten of the original amendments are referred to as The Bill of Rights, though only the first nine pertain to the people (Amendment 10 pertains to the states, though it mentions the people in parallel).

Bar to Federal Action

The Bill of Rights was understood, at its ratification, to be a bar on the actions of the federal government. Many people today find this to be an incredible fact. The fact is, prior to incorporation, discussed below, the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states. This is, however, quite in line with what the Constitution was originally designed to be: a framework for the federal government. In other words, though the federal government was banned from violating the freedom of the press, states were free to regulate the press. For the most part, this was not an issue, because the state constitutions all had bills of rights, and many of the rights protected by the states mirrored those in the federal Bill, and many went further than the federal Bill.

This point is best illustrated by one of the amendments that Madison proposed in his initial speech:

Fifthly, That in article 1st, section 10, between clauses 1 and 2, be inserted this clause, to wit:

No State shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.

This clause, seemingly innocuous to us today, was rejected by the Senate in its final draft of the Bill, and the concept that any part of the Bill of Rights would apply to the states was still 100 years away. Several cases that came before the Supreme Court in the 19th century attempted to have the Court establish that the Bill should apply to the states, to no avail:

In Barron teen Baltimore (32 U.S. 243 [1833]), the Court ruled that the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment did not apply to the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland by extension. Succinctly, the Court wrote: ". the fifth amendment must be understood as restraining the power of the general government, not as applicable to the states."

In Pervear v Massachusetts (72 U.S. 475 [1866]), the Court was asked to rule on fines imposed upon a liquor dealer by the state. Pervear was licensed by the United States under the current internal revenue code to keep and sell liquor. He was fined and sentenced to three months of hard labor for not maintaining a state license for his liquor business. Part to the defense attempted to invoke the 8th Amendment's Excessive Fines and Cruel and Unusual Punishment clauses. The Court, again quite succinctly, said: "Of this proposition it is enough to say that the article of the Constitution relied upon in support of it does not apply to State but to National legislation."

As to the Bill of Rights being a bar to federal acts, the Bill took some knocks in the first years of the new nation. The 1798 Alien and Sedition Act, for example, made nationals of countries the United States was at war with subject to summary arrest, and also made "false, scandalous and malicious" writings about the government a crime, with the burden of proof placed squarely on the shoulders of the defendant rather than the state. Madison and Thomas Jefferson were both adamantly opposed to the Act, and said that being unconstitutional, states were free to ignore (or nullify) the law. The Act, repealed in 1801, was never ruled unconstitutional.

One of the greatest changes in the interpretation of the Constitution came with the passage of the 14th Amendment after the conclusion of the Civil War. It was designed to assist newly freed slaves in the transition to freedom and to protect them from acts of the Southern states, and also to overturn the decision in the Dred Scott case that ruled that persons of African descent could not be citizens of the United States even if they were born in the United States. The amendment was successful in this endeavor, legally, if not in reality.

But this sentence had and continues to have long-lasting implications on the application of the Bill of Rights to the states:

The "Due Process Clause" has been interpreted as applying the Bill of Rights, which lists the rights (or privileges and immunities) of the citizens, to the states. Known as "incorporation," the application of the Bill to the states did not come all at once, nor is incorporation complete. Even today, there are some parts of the Bill which have not been incorporated. The process began unsuccessfully in the late 1800's and continued unsuccessfully right up until the 1930's. In 1947, however, in Adamson v California (332 U.S. 46 [1947]), the Supreme Court began to accept the argument that the 14th Amendment requires the states to follow the protections of the Bill of Rights. Historians both agreed and disagreed with the Court's contention that the framers of the 14th Amendment intended incorporation since its passage . but historians do not sit on the Court. Their opinions were less important than those of the Justices.

The process of selectively incorporating the clauses of the Bill of Rights is agreed to have begun in Twining v. New Jersey (268 U.S. 652 [1925]) which contemplated the incorporation of some of the aspects of the 8th Amendment - not because they were a part of the Bill of Rights but because they seemed to be fundamental to the concept of due process. This process of incorporating parts of the Bill of Rights because of their connection to due process began to run in parallel with the selective incorporation doctrine, where parts of the Bill of Rights were ruled to be enforceable on the states by virtue of the 14th Amendments, whether or not due process applied.

Thus in the early 1960's, the Establishment Clause, the right to counsel, the rights of free speech, assembly, and petition, and the right against unreasonable searches and seizures were quickly incorporated. Since the early 60's, almost every clause in the Bill of Rights has been incorporated (notable exceptions are the 2nd and 3rd Amendments, the grand jury indictment clause of the 5th Amendment, and the 7th Amendment).

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Congress and the Bill of Rights in History and Today

Students will explore the protections and limitations on authority contained in the Bill of Rights and the process by which the First Congress created it. They will do this by compiling a list of their rights as students, analyzing the Bill of Rights, and studying primary source documents to trace the origin and development of the first ten amendments. Students will then consider how the Bill of Rights might be updated to reflect 21st century circumstances.

Rasionaal:

By taking stock of their rights as students and studying the development of the Bill of Rights through antecedent documents, students will be better able to understand the protections it provides and how James Madison and the First Congress crafted amendments to win support for the Constitution. This will help students understand the importance of the Bill of Rights today.

Guiding Questions:

  1. What rights do students have in class?
  2. What rights are protected by the Bill of Rights, and what powers are limited?
  3. How and why did the First Congress create the Bill of Rights?
  4. How might the Bill of Rights be updated for today?

Materials:

Recommended Grade Levels:

Courses:

American History U.S. Government Civics

Topics included in this lesson:

The Bill of Rights, James Madison, constitutional amendments, Federalists, Anti-Federalists

Time Required:

The time needed to complete each learning activity is presented in parentheses at each step. The activities can be done in sequence or each can be done separately.

Vocabulary:

  • Federalists
  • Anti-Federalists
  • Ratification
  • Grievances
  • Vested
  • Due process of law

Documents:

Senate Revisions to the House-Passed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, September 9, 1789 Records of the U.S. Senate NAID 3535588

Proposed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as passed by the Senate, September 14, 1789 Records of the U.S. Senate NAID 2173242

Historic Overview:

The struggle over the states' ratification of the Constitution in 1787 and 1788 made a deep impression on James Madison, who witnessed firsthand the contentious battles in Virginia and New York. Madison understood that in order for the new government to be successful it needed the overwhelming allegiance of the people rather than the narrow majority support won in many of the state ratification conventions. Madison began to see how the addition of a bill of rights might calm some of the fears about the powers invested in the new national government.

James Madison worked to gain support for the Constitution by creating a list of proposed amendments drawn from various Anti-Federalist and Federalists sources. Elected as a representative to the First Congress in 1789, he took the lead in writing and speaking on behalf of legislation to amend the Constitution. By August of 1789, the House of Representatives passed a list of proposed amendments derived from Madison's list. Due in large measure to his leadership, Congress passed the Bill of Rights in 1789, and the states ratified it by 1791.

Learning Activities:

1. Rights in the classroom: (45 Minutes)

Begin a class discussion about rights in which students consider two dimensions of rights: specific protections for individuals and general limits on authority.

Discussion questions should include:

  • What specific protections for individuals apply to students?
  • What specific protections for individuals apply to teachers?
  • Are these sets of protections distinct from one another or shared to some degree?
  • What limits are placed on the authority of teachers?
  • What limits are placed on the authority of students?
  • What limits on authority do they share? (For instance, school rules and class policies limit student's authority to decide certain issues, while contracts and school policies limit certain actions by teachers.)

Ask students to summarize the discussion by completing Worksheet 1.

Direct the class to draw from information they listed on Worksheet 1 to create a bill of rights for the classroom.

Important topics to consider include:

  • What specific protections for individuals should be guaranteed?
  • What limitations on authority should be included?
  • How will the class determine what to include in this Bill of Rights? Simple majority? Super-majority? Unanimous vote? What vote does the teacher or administration have?

2. Analyzing the Bill of Rights (30 minutes)

Ask students to draw upon their work in Activity 1 as they analyze the list of amendments ratified by the states in 1791. Divide the students into small groups and assign each group to carefully read the text of the Handout 3. Have each group complete Worksheet 2 to delineate the individual protections and limits on authority contained in the Bill of Rights. Begin a discussion in which the class compares or contrasts their class Bill of Rights with the amendments ratified by the states.

3. Exploring the History of the Bill of Rights from Conventions to Ratification: (90 minutes)

Divide the class into small groups and distribute copies of the Senate Revisions to the House-Passed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (Senate Mark-up). This facsimile shows the Bill of Rights in the middle of its creation during the legislative process. The printed text shows the amendments as they were passed by the House and the handwritten markings show changes made by the Senate.

Drawing from the Senate Mark-up, assign each small group to study one or two of the 17 amendments passed by the House and marked up by the Senate. Provide one copy of Worksheet 3 to each group for each amendment the group is assigned. Using the Worksheet, the students will analyze their assigned amendment(s) and translate each into an 8-12 word "tweet." Amendments should be studied as they were passed by the House.

Direct each small group to study the historical context of their proposed amendment. The students will analyze several other versions of the Bill of Rights which came before and after the Senate Mark-up to determine when the main idea of their assigned amendment was introduced. For this step, distribute Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, and the Proposed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as passed by the Senate.

Each group will scan these four documents to determine if the main idea identified in their tweet was also present in the other versions of the Bill of Rights. Students mark their finding on Worksheet 3 by putting an X in the appropriate box in the chart. Students will also mark the final box in the chart with an R or L to indicate whether that amendment deals mostly with rights or limitations of government. The groups should answer the questions on Worksheet 3 to prepare for class discussion. Worksheet 4 should be posted or projected on an overhead so that all groups can report their findings and share with the class.

The groups will present to the class their answers to questions on Worksheet 3 and their findings marked on Worksheet 4. When all groups have presented, hold a class discussion using the following questions:

  • Which proposed amendments were present from the Anti-Federalist report to the Bill of Rights as ratified by the states?
  • Which Anti-Federalist ideas were also proposed by Madison but not present in the final Bill of Rights?
  • Which proposed amendments originated with James Madison? Which of those were not present in the final Bill of Rights?
  • Which proposed amendments were merged at various points in the process?

4. Applying the Bill of Rights to today's world (45 minutes)

The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times, including the Bill of Rights. The ability to amend the Constitution is critical to adapt to a changing society. However, the Founders understood that revisions to the founding charter should not be undertaken lightly, and they designed the amendment process to require a very high level of agreement for amendments to be ratified (2/3 of both Houses of Congress and 3/4 of state legislatures).

Divide students into groups to propose new amendments to the Constitution to better serve the nation in the 21st Century and "form a more perfect union." In groups, students will identify rights deserving protection but not currently contained in the Bill of Rights and additional powers of government that should be limited.

Each group may compose one amendment (or several amendments) to the Constitution and share with the class why they think each amendment is needed.

Post all amendments on the wall and allow students to speak for or against the amendments as if they were members of Congress. Hold a vote on each amendment to see which ones, if any, can get 2/3 of the votes of all class members.

5. Lesson Extension (45 minutes for preparation and 45 minutes to implement)

Debating changes to the Bill of Rights:

The Bill of Rights was created by process of debate in the First Congress and ratified by debate in the legislatures of the states. This history reminds us of the importance of civic discourse in the life of the nation. Learning to advocate for ideas persuasively and respectfully was as vital a lesson for America's first legislators as it is for students today. This debate challenges students to assess the call to update the Bill of Rights by speaking for and against the idea. Organize the class into two teams and have each team spend 45 minutes organizing their arguments and evidence prior to debating.

Debate Topic: The Bill of Rights should be updated to match 21st Century American life.

Pro position: The Bill of Rights should be updated.

Con position: The Bill of Rights should be preserved as it is.

  • Each debate features five participants on each side of the issue.
  • Each speaks for no more than two minutes.
  • Teams alternate speakers.
  • One speaker on each team delivers the opening giving an overview of the team's position.
  • Three speakers on each team gives supporting arguments—one argument per speaker.
  • One speaker on each team delivers the closing argument.

Bykomende hulpbronne

Congress Creates the Bill of Rights is an eBook, a mobile app for tablets, and online resources for teachers and students to exploring how the First Congress proposed amendments to the Constitution in 1789.

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This page was last reviewed on October 13, 2020.
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