Bill of Rights and Amendments
September 12, 2011
Professor James Newman
Bill of Rights and Amendments
The Constitution became ratified and the supreme law of the land September 17, 1787. Our forefathers understood that the possibility of changes may need to occur to this document to continue to grow with the expanding nation. The act of amending is the way the founders have set up to create any possible changes Americans feel need to be made. Without these changes the nation inhibits itself, and remains in the context of a black and white document. In a nation of unique individuals change is constant and what keeps this country thriving. This paper will continue to ...view middle of the document...
1). Two ways of proposing an amendment are: by Congress or a Constitutional Convention. For an amendment to be proposed by Congress there must be a majority two-thirds vote in both house of representatives and Senate (The Constitutional Amendment Process, 2011, para. 2). Once it has been proposed, it moves to an Archivist who proposes it to the states, and for this amendment to become part of the Constitution it must receive 38 of the 50 states ratification. “None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by Constitutional Convention” (National Archives and Records Administration, 2011, para. 2). During a Constitutional Convention two-thirds of the states must attend and three-fourths of the state legislatures must ratify the amendment before it becomes part of the Constitution.
Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights includes the first 10 amendments, and it limits the power of the government. “On June 8, 1789 James Madison introduced these proposed amendments at the First Federal Congress” (National Archives and Records Administration, 2011, para. 5). He originally had introduced 12, but the first two did not ratify. Amendments three through 12 went on to become the Bill of Rights. “Passed by Congress September 25, 1789, and ratified December 15, 1791” (National Archive and Records Administration, 2011, para. 2). The first eight amendments limit the power of government by specifying rights and liberties. Amendment nine states other rights outside of the first eight amendments do exist. Last, the 10th amendment states the government must only use the power given by the United States Constitution; states may exercise authority when federal governments cannot.
Motivation and the Effect the Bill of Rights
Looking through earlier documentations one will notice the lack of civil liberties listed for individuals of the United States of America. Many of the documents including the Constitution focused more toward the government and its power. This caused a bit of a problem for a few of the founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson. Alexander Hamilton at first opposed the addition but later changed his beliefs on it. “Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution” (National Archives and Record Administration, 2011, para. 2). These men thought it was necessary to guarantee individual rights and freedoms. They believed if they had not set a list of individual’s rights, the government could take away and ultimately not protect citizens of the United States. Others thought the Constitution had included these rights, but they later determined them to vague and the Bill of Rights deemed necessary.
George Washington agreed by saying “they have given the rights of man a full and fair discussion, and explained them in so clear and forcible manner as cannot fail to make a lasting impression" (Linder, 2011, para. 5). The Bill of Rights serves as a model that...