A Journal for Western Man

 

The Ideas of America's Founders:

The Debate Over the Bill of Rights

G. Stolyarov II

Issue CVIII - June 20, 2007

-----------------------------------

Principal Index

-----------------------------------

Old Superstructure

-----------------------------------

Old Master Index

-----------------------------------

Contributors

-----------------------------------

The Rational Business Journal

-----------------------------------

Forum

-----------------------------------

Yahoo! Group

-----------------------------------

Gallery of Rational Art

-----------------------------------

Online Store

-----------------------------------

Henry Ford Award

-----------------------------------

Johannes Gutenberg Award

-----------------------------------

CMFF: Fight Death

-----------------------------------

Eden against the Colossus

-----------------------------------

A Rational Cosmology

-----------------------------------

Implied Consent

-----------------------------------

Links

-----------------------------------

Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Helium.com

-----------------------------------

Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Associated Content

-----------------------------------

Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on GrasstopsUSA.com

-----------------------------------

Submit/Contact

-----------------------------------

Statement of Policy

-----------------------------------

 

           The protections for rights in the Constitution were supplemented by the Bill of Rights in 1791. In the debate over the Bill of Rights, Publius considered it unnecessary, as, in a government where all power flows from the people, the people surrender nothing and retain everything and thus have no need for particular reservations of rights to them made by the government (Federalist 84).

            Further, claimed Publius, a bill of rights might be dangerous in that it would contain exceptions to powers not granted to the government in the Constitution—which would motivate ambitious men to usurp those powers under the pretext that their restriction in the Bill of Rights implied those powers’ existence (Federalist 84). Publius also argued that the Constitution itself already contained clauses protecting rights—including the protection of the writ of habeas corpus and the prohibitions of bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and titles of nobility.

            James Madison, however, argued in favor of the Bill of Rights in his “Appeal for Amendments.” Madison pointed out that the Constitution leaves the means of enforcing the general government’s enumerated powers unspecified and hence leaves room for abuse—such as the issuance of general warrants for collecting taxes.

            Additionally, the Bill of Rights can serve an educative function of informing people what their rights are and motivating them to insist on those rights and be vigilant against their violation. An independent judiciary might also come to consider itself the guardian of these rights and become the bulwark for their protection.

            The debate over the Bill of Rights was ultimately resolved in its favor, and James Madison was asked to write amendments for inclusion in it. Many of Madison’s original proposals for amendments became incorporated into the Bill of Rights; among those that were excluded was a clause mandating a strict separation of the powers of the three departments of governments. This was likely rejected because of the impossibility of maintaining all three departments absolutely separate in all respects. Another proposal that was rejected was the prohibition of state violations of freedom of the press and of conscience; this might have been rejected because the Bill of Rights was originally considered as applying only against the Federal Government, not the state governments.

            History has showed the necessity of the Bill of Rights, for today the U. S. Government does not recognize that it has no powers other than those the people explicitly delegated to it, but it still hesitates to violate explicit prohibitions issued against it in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights serves still to restrain the government’s ability to infringe on the individual liberties of Americans.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre,  Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, weekly columnist for GrasstopsUSA.com, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. Mr. Stolyarov also publishes his articles on Helium.com and Associated Content to assist the spread of rational ideas. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. His most recent play is Implied Consent. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue CVIII Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here..

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.