Examining the Bill of Rights

by Jeff Haggit, Chairman, Constitution Party of Wyoming

In a series of articles over the next several months, I would like to accomplish a couple of things. One is to take apart each of the first 10 amendments and give it a brief and hopefully interesting history, and then explain how it relates to current events, court cases and more.

Some of the amendments are too lengthy to digest in one article, so they will be broken up point by point. An example of this would be the first amendment, which lists five protected rights. 

Let’s start with an overview of the Bill of Rights.

As a historical aside, the English Bill of Rights, approved by William and Mary at the time of the Glorious Revolution in 1688, can be looked upon as a forerunner to the American Bill of Rights. Several states would not ratify the Constitution without a Bill of Rights, or at least without a promise of one.

Hence, George Washington and others invited the holdouts to make suggestions. Ultimately, a laundry list of 189 amendments were suggested and submitted to Congress, which narrowed it down to 12. The states narrowed the list further to 10, all of which were ratified effective Dec. 15, 1791. The two that didn’t make the cut dealt with Congressional representation and Congressional pay. The brilliance of the final Bill of Rights is they were able to protect so many rights in just these 10.

Perhaps a little clarification is in order regarding the Bill of Rights. First, the Bill of Rights is not a declaration of rights as much as it is a proclamation of prohibitions on the federal government. If one looks up “rights” in a search engine, they will find all kinds of explanations and definitions, but the unalienable rights spoken about in the Declaration of Independence come from our creator, not from government — and those rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are also natural and inherent.

That wraps up the introduction to this journey on the first 10 amendments to our Constitution. Check back soon as we explore the first right listed in the First Amendment, concerning religion.

You can contact Jeff via email HERE.

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