By Adam Bitely
On Constitution day 2010, it’s ironic that the part of the Constitution that Americans are most familiar with is the Bill of Rights along with the rest of the amendments to the original Constitution. So important is the Bill of Rights, that without them, the Constitution would not have been ratified by the states.The Founders saw the Bill of Rights as a list of protections for the people from the government and can also be viewed as a limit to the federal government’s power, holding the government within a set boundary of what their business actually is.
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the Constitution. These amendments protect and guarantee free speech, religious freedom, gun rights, the right to assemble, the freedom of the press, the right to a speedy trial, the freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, as well as the freedom from having to quarter soldiers in your home. Also, the Bill of Rights limits the powers of the federal government by mandating any power not explicitly listed in the Constitution as a power that belongs to the state governments.
When the Constitution was first drafted, it did not contain the Bill of Rights. Initially, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, opposed such an addition because he thought the federal government was so weak that it would never be able to trounce on such rights. In the end though, Madison drafted and added the Bill of Rights to appease several states that would have withheld support of ratification due to the absence of such protections.
The Bill of Rights was perceived as a protection against the obstructions of Big Government. Without such protections, how would the people stand against the federal government that they were unleashing through ratification of the Constitution?
The Constitution has been amended 27 times throughout our nation’s short history. A majority of the amendments passed after the Bill of Rights has expanded the role of the federal government and has allowed the same federal government that we are guaranteed protection from to creep slowly into regulating all facets of our existence. The power of the states has been eroded and the federal government now reigns supreme.
The irony today is that the federal government could not exist without the consent of the states. The federal government only exists because state legislatures ratified the Constitution, thus creating the federal structure. Now, many states are suing the federal government of their own creation to stop ObamaCare from usurping their state’s laws.
The power balance that once existed between the states and the federal government has completely flipped since the time of the Founders and within the next year, the Supreme Court is likely to decide this balance once again.
The Bill of Rights stands as a beacon for the freedoms and liberties that the people in the United States have. The existence of these rights empowers the people to hold their government in check. As James Madison once said, “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” And Madison stands correct to this day as we watch our government pass laws that restrict our basic freedoms that are protected in the Bill of Rights. Humans will never be perfect and thus, our government will never be either.
Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com.