Monday, December 14, 2009

Bill of Rights Day

I didn't realize it was actually a 'day,' but according to Holiday Insights, it is - and today is the date the 10 Amendments - the Bill of Rights - were added to the Constitution.

Originally, 12 amendments were proposed, but two of them (one dealing with the number of representatives per population and the other dealing with representative pay) were not implemented. However, the pay amendment was ratified in 1992 and is now the 27th Amendment.

There were some, at the time, who thought that the Constitution did not provide enough protection against tyranny by the central government. They believed that the document needed to spell out the 'immunities of individual citizens.' Several states, upon ratification of the Constitution, asked for several amendments while other states ratified the document with the expectation that certain amendments would be added.

The amendments were first proposed on September 25, 1789 and were implemented December 15, 1791. Today, some would say, the content of the Amendments are more widely known and referenced than the original document.

From the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration:

The Bill of Rights: A Transcription

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

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.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

(Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights.")

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

1 comment:

Tim Higgins said...

One of the things that the Founding Fathers were concerned about in passing "The Bill of Rights" was the idea that by enumerating them, some damn fool in the future would make the case that only these particular rights would be recognized.

What would they think today when we trod on many of those fundamental rights, all the while talking about "the right to affordable health care" or the "right to a good paying job"?

What would they think about the government that they established ignoring the right of property (and its associated right of liberty) in eminent domain abuse?

What would they think about that government ignoring the rule of law with regards to the contract between employer and employee for compensation by establishing wage controls by government bureaucrats?

It certainly appears sometimes that we should be celebrating these rights while we still can.

Google Analytics Alternative