In 1791, the Bill of Rights Essay, consisting of 10 amendments, was ratified into the constitution. The document’s purpose was to spell out the liberties of the people that the government could not infringe upon. Considered necessary by many at the time of its development, the Bill of Rights became the cause for a huge debate between two different factions: The Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. The Federalists were those who thought that there should be a new Union created with a strong centralized government and individual regional governments.
They felt that it was not necessary for there to be a bill of rights because it was implied that those rights the Constitution did not specifically state would be handed down to the states. On the other hand, the Anti-Federalists were opposed to such a form of government on the grounds that the Constitution, in which it was outlined, lacked clarity in the protections of the individuals. The Anti-Federalistswhose memory of British oppression was still fresh in their mindswanted certain rights and guarantees that were to be apart of the constitution (Glasser 1991). A clear demonstration of the Anti-Federalist attitude was performed by Samuel Bryan, who published a series of essays named the Cenitnal Essays,’ which “assailed the sweeping power of the central government, the usurpation of state sovereignty, and the absence of a bill of rights guaranteeing individual liberties such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion (Bran 1986).Order now
” Of course, the freedoms stated above are a portion and not the whole of The Bill of Rights. Ultimately, The Bill of Rights was adopted to appease the Anti-Federalists, whose support was necessary to ratify the constitution, and who believed that without the liberties granted therein, the new constitutionthat they thought was vague and granted too much power to the central governmentwould give way to an elite tyrannical government. The purpose of The Bill of Rights is to protect U. S. citizens from abuse of power that may be committed by the different areas of their government. It does this by expressing clear restrictions on the three braches of government laid out previously in the Constitution.
As stated by Hugo Black, Associate Justice to the Supreme Court: “The bill of rights protects people by clearly stating what government can’t do by describing the procedures that government must follow when bringing its powers to bear against any person with a view to depriving him of his life, liberty, or property (Black 1960). ‘” Each amendment either states what the government cannot do or limits its powers by providing certain procedures that it must abide by. To provide a few examples, one must take a closer look at some of these amendments. The First Amendment to the Constitution dictates that “Congress shall make no law,” which establishes a national religion, prohibits free speech or press, or which prevents the right to assemble or petition the government. In the language used, it expressly prohibits the legislative branch from making laws which would impose on the rights that were given to the people. According to Hugo Black, “The Framers were well aware that the individual rights they sought to protect might be easily nullified if subordinated to the general powers granted to Congress.
One of the reasons for adoption of the Bill of Rights was to prevent just that (Black 1960). ” The Third Amendment states that the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure “shall not be infringed. ” Again, this amendment is laying down restrictions on what government has power to do. Amendment Six provides the right to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury,” to be “informed of the nature and cause of the accusation,” and “to have compulsory process for obtaining Witnesses in his favor, and to have Assistance of Counsel for his defense. ” This amendment states that if you are accused of a crime, you must have certain rights reserved which the courts are obliged to uphold.
Furthermore, it outlines regulations that they must follow in order to protect those rights, such as obtaining witnesses and providing an impartial jury. The Eighth Amendment prevents the government from imposing excessive bail or fines and says “cruel or unusual punishments,” shall .