500 Words or Less: The Basics of the Bill of Rights

Many people realize that the Bill of Rights are the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America. What many do not realize about the Bill of Rights is that it was added after the Constitution was ratified. This little tidbit of knowledge is critical to understanding the relevance and importance of these amendments.

During the Constitutional Convention, the topic of a Bill of Rights was brought up. Some wanted a Bill of Rights and some opposed the proposition. Some argued that a Bill of Rights appeared in every state constitution and was needed for the federal Constitution. Those that opposed this idea cited that to write them down was to subject those inalienable rights to scrutiny from the government. If the government was not to infringe on the right of the press, for instance, they would need to define what the press actually was so they could make sure they didn’t infringe on their freedoms. This alarmed a majority of these men enough that they voted against including a Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights was introduced in the first Congress by James Madison. During the ratification debates most of the ratification delegations issued supplementary ideas they would like introduced in the first Congress. There was no authority to change the proposed Constitution, but these men had faith in the good will of their fellow men to give their thoughts a fair hearing. A majority of these notes concerned a Bill of Rights. James Madison took these notes and condensed them down to a much smaller list. This was the start of the Bill of Rights. After congressional deliberation, there were 12 Amendments transmitted to the states for approval. We all know today that 10 made the cut. We had a Bill of Rights.

Now I ask you- what rights do the Bill of Rights give us? If you said anything other than none you are incorrect. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”. The Bill of Rights give us NO rights. They describe SOME of the inalienable rights that are inherent and not to be encroached by government.

The 2nd Amendment, for instance,  does not give us the right to keep and bear arms. It describes an inherent right, already possessed by the people, that shall not be infringed by government. The way this idea has been turned on its head has made the pursuit of liberty difficult.When you understand the 2nd Amendment in this true sense then you see how our government has violated our rights, not protected them. Government gives us no rights.

The people have inherent rights. SOME of these rights are listed in our Bill of Rights. The 9th Amendment is the catch all for our rights and states that even though we haven’t listed a certain right, it is the people’s, not the governments prerogative to claim it. The 10th Amendment further secures this claim.

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