Value of the Bill of Rights
by Boyd Evan White
The first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution are routinely called “The Bill of Rights.” It is important semantics to understand that. The Constitution was and is the Constitution even had no amendment ever been passed. In fact, since it was the very first Congress that passed those ten Amendments, I suspect there were many people that said to themselves, “Wow, is this going to be a precedence where Congress routinely uses the Amendment article?” Remarkably, this has not been the case, over 231 years the U.S. Constitution has only used the Amendment Article 27 times.
The first Congress proposed, and the States-in-Convention passed the first ten Amendments because they wanted assurances against power abuses other men would legislate to the detriment of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Monday, June 25, 1787, In Convention
“…I believe this observation will be found generally true: That no two people are so exactly alike in their situation or circumstances as to admit the exercise of the same Government with equal benefit: that a system must be suited to the habits & genius of the people it is to govern, and must grow out of them…”
Is it beyond reason to attribute the participants in government in 1791 in the U.S.A. to be categorized as being of similar “habits & genius”…which in a logical extrapolation should mean that they could “TRUST” everything that came out of Congress would reflect their values? But, NO! The “Bill of Rights” categorically means than no person and no government should be trusted to legislate power over certain aspects of individual’s lives.
The Massachusetts Ratification Convention:
Gen. SAMUEL THOMPSON, TOPSHAM, MAINE.
“But where is the bill of rights which shall check the power of this Congress; which shall say, Thus far shall ye come, and no farther. The safety of the people depends on a bill of rights.”
The Anti-Federalist Papers also reveal the Bill of Rights was in the forefront over the Ratification Debates.
Anti-Federalist No. 13, The Expense of the New Government
by A Farmer
“Rouse up, my friends, a matter of infinite importance is before you on the carpet, soon to be decided in your convention: The New Constitution. Seize the happy moment. Secure to yourselves and your posterity the jewel Liberty, which has cost you so much blood and treasure, by a well regulated Bill of Rights, from the encroachments of men in power.”
And here is an extremely despicable quote from the Anti-Federalist Papers against a Bill of Rights. I can’t think of a better reason to have a Bill of Rights that to protect against people who think like this:
Anti-Federalist No. 9, A Consolidated Government is a Tyranny
17 October 1787
“We the Aristocratic party of the United States, lamenting the many inconveniences to which the late confederation subjected the well-born, the better kind of people, bringing them down to the level of the rabble—and holding in utter detestation that frontispiece to every bill of rights, that all men are born equal — beg leave (for the purpose of drawing a line between such as we think were ordained to govern, and such as were made to bear the weight of government without having any share in its administration) to submit to our Friends in the first class for their inspection, the following defense of our monarchical, aristocratical democracy.”
How would the U.S.A. have turned out if there had not been the first ten Amendments? The Alien and Sedition Acts (circa 1798) points towards the notion that Congress, a body of people with the power to create Law, unchecked, would have pushed the boundaries of power to the upmost limits. Far beyond what was done in the reality of the past 231 years.
Without the Bill of Rights the U.S.A. would not had a lofty goal to lift all people towards in protecting their Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.
The Bill of Rights has significantly shaped the U.S.A. over the past 231 years. In fact, there is still a tug-of-war between Congress’s manipulation of the Constitution (e.g. Commerce Clause, General Welfare Clause, Electoral College, Gerrymandering, etc.) and the protections found in the Bill of Rights. One thing is for sure, without the Bill of Rights, the Republic outlined in the Constitution has shown there cannot be any trust or appeals to consanguinity Congress will not intrude upon our lives in the most basic and simplest aspects of our lives…aspects no government has any business intruding upon.
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