bill_of_rights_examined_1 - Constitutional Topic The Bill...

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Constitutional Topic: The Bill of Rights The Bill of Rights is the common name for Amendments 1 through 9 . 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, and the 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
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bill_of_rights_examined_1 - Constitutional Topic The Bill...

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