Bill of Rights
– The First 10 Amendments to the Constitution
Why was the Constitution amended almost as soon as it was signed?
The Anti-Federalists were concerned that a new and very strong central government, one of tyranny would be created. They, then identified the need for protection for the individual citizen. The Federalists stated that there was not a need for a list of protections – because the list would be very long and that the freedoms not listed would not be guaranteed or given to people. The Anti-Federalists won out at the end of the day….this means that right after the Constitution was ratified, these 10 amendments were added.
This Amendment is one of the most controversial. Congress can not make a law, establishing religion. Our founding Fathers intended that religion would be encouraged to all, but that the Government would not say that one religion was preferenced over any other…. Such as the Church of England being the only church allowed in England.
This amendment provides the freedom and right to bear arms
This Amendment protected citizens from having to provide room/board for a soldier in their home.
This provides citizens the right/freedom to be secure in person, house, papers and all of your belongings. This means citizens are protected from unreasonable seizure. A warrant must be issued and no warrant may be issued without probable cause. This warrant must provide the place for the warrant and what is being searched for and seized.
This amendment is a prohibition against double jeopardy: you can not be tried for the same crime twice. This also protects you from being tried against a capital/infamous crime without an indictment of peers.
This amendment also states that the government can not take your property for another public use (highway or school, etc), they must go through the due process of law and justly compensating the owner for their property.
Guarantees the right to a public and speedy trial so that government is held accountable for their actions and so that those being accused can quickly move forward.
If the value of the controversy exceeds $20, the right of a trial by jury is to be reserved.
Excessive bail and cruel/unusual punishment are not allowed against any prisoner in the United States.
This amendment is aimed to get the federalists to sign onto the Bill of Rights. This amendment meant that simply because an exhaustive list of rights was not created did not mean that there were not rights that are also retained by the people.
Anything not given as a power to the Federal Government and prohibited for the states to exercise, then is reserved for the states and the people.
The 9th and 10th Amendments wrap up the first eight amendments.
Federalist and Anti-federalist Views on the Senate
Have you ever wondered why you need to be 30 years old to be a Senator? What about impeachment? What about the terms Senators are allowed to serve?
The Federalist and Anti-Federalist views on the Senate were different. The Federalists wanted a stronger central government to ensure it was ‘energetic’ and able to accomplish a lot. They also wanted to ensure there was a transfer of power from the state to the federal level. However,the Anti Federalists were concerned about State Sovereignty.
What was proposed was that the Senators would be elected by the State Legislators. That way, each state would have a direct say in who their representative to the Federal Government would be. This was changed in the 17th Amendment, which gave people the right to vote for their representatives. It was important (at this time in history) for state sovereignty that people would directly elect their state legislature, who would then select the State Senators.
The founding Fathers wanted to prevent Tyranny, anarchy and direct democracy. They wanted to implement a republican government – through thoughtful decisions, not emotional decisions.
The Founding Fathers agreed that a Senator should be intelligent, have good character, some knowledge of foreign affairs, at least 30 years old and serve for six-year terms. They also identified that a person should have to be a citizen of the US for 9 years before they could serve as a senator. So, at this time, the Senators were chosen by the individual state legislatures. This was seen as a tie between the states and the people
Some of the Anti-Federalists were so concerned about too much power in the central government, they wanted to abolish the state power all together and go to that direct democracy and that was put aside. The majority of the founders said: No, we do not want to get involved in that. We are not going backwards and abolishing the state power all together.
Due to the concern of rich and poor a discussion between the Federalist and Anti-Federalists began. They wanted to identify the role that the Senate would play regarding this issue. The Federalists stated that because the Senate would be more mature, they would be able to be the safe guard to help ensure they could stop laws that would show partiality. Mr. Hamilton stated:
“It was certainly true: that nothing like an equality of property existed: that an inequality would exist as long as liberty existed, and that it would unavoidably result from that very liberty itself. This inequality of property constituted the great & fundamental distinction in Society. When the Tribunitial power had leveled the boundary between the patricians & plebeians, what followed? The distinction between rich & poor was substituted. He meant not however to enlarge on the subject. He rose principally to remark that [Mr. Sherman] seemed not to recollect that one branch of the proposed Govt. was so formed, as to render it particularly the guardians of the poorer orders of Citizens;”
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