Monday, December 16, 2019

Happy Birthday To The Bill Of Rights! 228 Years of Protection

Buy at Constituting America

Is our Bill of Rights a list of government-guaranteed rights? Absolutely not. The first eight amendments are filled with phrases like, “Congress shall make no law, shall not be infringed, shall not be violated, nor be deprived, shall not be required.” These are not a list of rights generously bestowed by a benevolent government. Instead they are a list of restrictions on government. As a safety measure, they added the caveat that this was not a complete list (IX Amendment).

Rights endowed by God was not a new concept. It went back at least to Marcus Tullius Cicero and the Roman Republic. Cicero searched for what he called natural law. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC–46 BC) on Natural Rights: 
True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting. There will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all time. If so great a power belongs to the decrees of fools that the laws of Nature can be changed by their votes, then why do they not ordain that what is bad be considered good?

John Locke and the Enlightenment magnified awareness that rights came from God. Locke wrote that humans were “by nature free, equal and independent.” Our First Congress wrote these rights as amendments to the Institution and the states ratified the ten amendments we call the Bill of Rights.

Happy Birthday to the Bill of Rights 

Here are two great articles on the Bill of Rights from Constituting America

The Bill of Rights: America's Bulwark of Liberty by Horace Cooper, Constituting America Fellow

Happy Bill of Rights Day by Tony Williams, Constituting America Fellow

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