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Tracing the History of the Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights is a collection of the major foremost amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America. These amendments proclaim the basic freedoms that relate to every single American and that protect the essential rights such as the right for the private property possession, safety, criminal responsibility, etc. the first ten amendments are designed to state the citizens’ most important freedoms, to restrict the government and judicial interference into private life, and to regulate the rights of the American states and the people, in general.

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The Bill of Rights was originally introduced in 1789 by James Madison as a set of legislative acts. The first text had 12 articles; the first one was never ratified, while the second one was found legitimate many years after, in 1992. Originally, this document was judged of as a set of portions regulating the actions and rights of the federal government. All American states had their individual constitutions embracing their own Bill of Rights’ variant. Some of them were quite similar to the amendments of the federal version, while others tended to be more liberal. During the 18th and the 19th centuries, the Supreme Court in America used to resolve the cases in favor of the state policies instead of the federal ones as certain cases had the splitting or contradictory points in comparison with the federal version of the Bill of Rights. Such particular cases included Barron vs. Baltimorein 1833 and Pervear vs. Massachusettsin 1866.

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The selective incorporation of the Bill of Rights is the process used by the American courts to apply the portions in the Bill of Rights to the states of America. Although the Bill of Rights used to be legitimate only in relation to the federal government, it is also applied to the states according to the Fourteenth Amendment that came out later in 1868. The Civil War was the leverage to inspire the American government to revise the old amendments, and, as a result, the Fourteenth Amendment was created in 1868 by the Congress. Nevertheless, the application of it was limited to the decision of the Supreme Court. Several attempts were done by the Congress to empower the Fourteenth Amendment but in this period of time the institution of Congress did not have enough authority to put it into life in front of the Supreme Court (Labunski 250-60).

Instead, a special doctrine of the selective incorporation was introduced. It meant that the particular clause parts of the amendments could be chosen or not chosen by the states to get incorporated selectively. This gradual sorting out implied that other inapplicable clauses could be rejected.

As a result, the First, the Second, the Fourth, and the Sixth Amendments are incorporated, while the Third, the Fifth, and the Eighth Amendments are partially incorporated. The rest of the amendments are not applicable. So, the Fourteenth Amendment has become a constitutional provision for the selective incorporation of the amendment clauses.

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Although the Bill of Rights is as old as two hundred years, it is still crucial to understand its weight and importance for the life of the today’s U.S. citizens. The constitutional status of the Bill of Rights in contemporary America is introductory and preliminary for the later amendments. However, all most important citizens’ rights and freedoms are listed there comprehending the freedom of speech, religion, press, arms bearing, and many others (McCann 319-49). The rights of the governmental interference are also determined by the Bill of Rights. All of the freedoms protected are under the constant attack, and the Bill of Rights is a list of protection in your foreseen cases. This is your citizen insurance from the possible rights or freedoms violation.

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