The Bill of Rights

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The Bill of Rights is the name that we give to the first ten amendments to our Constitution. These first ten amendments were necessary to get the holdover states in the Union to ratify the Constitution. This piece of legislation is what gave us our most important individual rights such as freedom of speech and religion. It was not an easy road however and there was fierce debate from both sides about whether it should be included or not. In this paper I intend to argue for the Federalists about why a Bill of Rights did not need to be included into the Constitution. One of the most important reasons why the Federalists fought so hard against the inclusion of a Bill of Rights was because they believed that it would undermine the ideal that a government should have limited powers (377). The proposed legislation would be at odds with the main point of a written constitution as the product of a social contract, which states that all power initially stays with the citizens and that the citizens are the ones who construct a government that has limited and enumerated powers in a written constitution. For example, Federalists argued that deliberately stating the right to religion should not be infringed on could be misconstrued by people thinking that if the Constitution did not state this restriction specifically then the government would possess that power. In other words, the Federalists were afraid that people might think that the Constitution gave the government unlimited power and that writing down specific provisions in a bill of rights would only increase the sense that those sole rights that were written down were the only ones taken from a government that is usually unlimited in its power. This was obviously not what the framers ... ... middle of paper ... ...ce to state that every person in the country is given natural and inalienable rights just by the virtue that they are humans so writing down those rights again in a second document seemed pointless. There was no need to write up a document to state our inalienable rights especially since the proposed bill of rights seemed to be more about establishing a framework for how the government would act in certain situations rather than stating the natural rights of citizens. Federalists were cautious to explicitly state fundamental rights in a document that needed to be ratified by the people because it suggested that the source of our rights rests in the consent of people rather than in nature. So it seemed to follow that the Anti-Federalists were suggesting that our rights depended on the statement of those rights in a document rather than just their existence in nature.

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