Justifying the Bill of Rights

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Justifying the Bill of Rights
Professor Maria Toy, J.D.

The amendments to the United States Constitution play an important role in the history, politics and law of our country. When the Bill of Rights was originally proposed to the First Federal Congress in 1789 by James Madison, the intent was for the amendments to be integrated into the original text of the Constitution. As we now know, Madison’s idea did not prevail and Congress decided the first ten amendments and the subsequent seventeen be appended (BYU Journal of Public Law [Volume 25], January 1, 2011). The amendments are an integral part of the Constitution, the framework of the incomparable American justice system that has great impact on the legal system and political climate of the United States. Each of the amendments was written either to overrule a Supreme Court decision, to force societal change, or to revise details of the existing Constitution. The Constitution is an evolving document that some believe is “a living constitution that was written so it could adapt to a changing nation” (Huey-Burns, 2010). Additionally, many of the modern day issues we face such as same-sex marriage, healthcare and insurance policy, and immigration reform, have deep constitutional roots. Amendments are crucial because they give us a mechanism to update and reflect changes in time and public opinion. The process of amending the Constitution fulfills a crucial part of the checks and balance system of our government. In essence, if something is deemed unconstitutional, the legislative branch or the public has a way of making it constitutional. This helps to prevent any other branch of our government from “running away” with authority. Our founding fathers had the goal of creating a strong, fair, and lasting government for the new America. This country was born from a desire to escape the…...

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