Today is BILL OF RIGHTS DAY - December 15, 1791

The original Constitution, as proposed in 1787 in Philadelphia and as ratified by the states, contained very few individual rights guarantees, as the framers were primarily focused on establishing the machinery for an effective federal government. A proposal by delegate Charles Pinckney to include several rights guarantees (including "liberty of the press" and a ban on quartering soldiers in private homes) was submitted to the Committee on Detail on August 20, 1787, but the Committee did not adopt any of Pinckney's recommendations. The matter came up before the Convention on September 12, 1787 and, following a brief debate, proposals to include a Bill or Rights in the Constitution were rejected. As adopted, the Constitution included only a few specific rights guarantees: protection against states impairing the obligation of contracts (Art. I, Section 10), provisions that prohibit both the federal and state governments from enforcing ex post facto laws (laws that allow punishment for an action that was not criminal at the time it was undertaken) and provisions barring bills of attainder (legislative determinations of guilt and punishment) (Art. I, Sections 9 and 10). The framers, and notably James Madison, its principal architect, believed that the Constitution protected liberty primarily through its division of powers that made it difficult for an oppressive majorities to form and capture power to be used against minorities. Delegates also probably feared that a debate over liberty guarantees might prolong or even threaten the fiercely-debated compromises that had been made over the long hot summer of 1787.



Read More Here:
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/billofrightsintro.html


THE FIRST 10 AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION AS RATIFIED BY THE STATES ("The Bill of Rights")**



Amendment I


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Amendment II


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment III


No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V


No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI


In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.


Amendment VII


In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII


Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX


The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X


The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

**Because the Ninth and Tenth Amendments are not specific guarantees of individual liberties, in some usages "The Bill of Rights" refers only to the first eight amendments.




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