Bill of Rights and Individual Liberties

Introduction

Enemies of the constitution played down the claim that the bill of rights was not needed in the constitution since it contravened the wishes and desires of the majority in the country. This followed after the proponents of the removal of the bill of rights argued that the state machineries had no powers and authority to deny individuals their personal liberties.

Those supporting the view that the bill of rights be excluded from the constitution claimed that the state was given a blank check on matters that the bill of rights did not talk about. Federalists such as Madison believed that the bill of rights was ineffective and had to be omitted from the constitution (Labunski 62).

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

Furthermore, writers of the federalist papers believed that immediate amendments to the constitution could cause more harm than good to the state. In Federalist 38, Madison commented that the bill of rights had to be done away with since anti-federalists could not actually agree on the most pressing needs as regards to the bill of rights. Furthermore, people had coexisted peacefully for several years without the bill of rights.

After a careful thought and further research, Madison realized that the bill of rights was important and had to be included in the constitution. He therefore chose to be neutral. In Federalist 44, he suggested that the constitution barred the states from infringing on the rights of individuals.

However, he underscored the fact that extra measures had to be taken in order to guarantee liberty and individual freedom. In Federalist 48, Madison noted that states could easily interfere with individual liberty even though the constitution protected individuals. According to Madison’s analysis, the bill of rights could do little to guarantee individual liberty and freedom.

In this paper, it is observed that the bill of rights is very important in protecting individual liberty and freedom. For this reason, it must always be included in the constitution in order to sanction it legally. In real sense, individual liberty is incompatible with state sovereignty. Without the bill of rights, the state would tend to deny individuals their rights in order to safeguard its sovereignty. The bill of rights defines the relationship between the state and citizens.

The Role of the Bill of Rights in Safeguarding Individual Liberty

The US is one of the states that were established based on the fundamental freedoms and civil liberties. It was through the civil liberties as outlined in the bill of rights in the constitution that ordinary citizens could be assured their freedoms. In the current political arena, many opponents to the bill of rights suggest that the Patriotic Act should be embraced instead of the bill of rights. This is aimed at cutting the privileges enjoyed by the American populace.

The Patriot Act was crafted to protect citizens against terrorism but it has turned out to be a tool that is utilized by the state machineries to deny people their rights. Critics to the bill of rights believe that state interests should be given priority implying that individual liberties should be regulated. This proves that individual liberties and state sovereignty are incompatible in practice.

Founders of the nation such as Patrick Henry insisted that individual liberty was inevitable. The patriot claimed that limiting individual liberty was the same as killing an individual. In other words, individual liberties were to remain intact. The American bill of rights is based on the Massachusetts Bay Liberties that was constituted in 1641. The collection of liberties gave citizens of Massachusetts a freedom to enjoy some rights that were equivalent to the modern day rights.

After the constitution was ratified, the congress moved to amend the constitution to include the bill of rights in 1791. It was viewed that without the bill of rights, the masters and the owners of the means of production would continue subjugating and perpetuating the rights of the unfortunate in society. During colonialism, citizens were not allowed to worship freely and their political participation was limited.

The law could punish any individual who opposed the existing social order. In this regard, the ruled had to follow what the ruler wanted them to follow. The relationship between the ruled and the ruler was skewed. The bill of rights was necessary to specify and clarify the relationship between the king and the subjects. In the contemporary society, the same thing can happen in case the bill of rights is scrapped from the constitution.

Before the enactment of the bill of rights, the constitution stated who was supposed to own property. Regarding the ownership of firearms, only the state had the power and authority to possess arms. Citizens existed at the mercy of state machineries. In the legal quarters, citizens were often treated unfairly.

Those with high social statuses were always given priority in matters touching on property ownership. This meant that the poor existed at the mercy of the rich. The bill of rights was established to check on this issue. The bill of rights was therefore established to serve as a foundation to civil liberties to be enjoyed by every individual in the state.

Furthermore, the bill of rights was incorporated in the constitution in order to prevent the government from taking control of individual life. The bill of rights provides individuals with legal defences in case the government attempts to go against the wishes and desires of the majority.

Through the first amendment, citizens could enjoy various freedoms and rights. Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion and the right to public assembly were all included in the first amendment. The individual could freely assembly to express his or her opinion without state intervention.

In this case, the individual had the right to petition the government on matters pertaining to injustice such as state brutality and state harassment. Moreover, the first amendment barred the state from introducing a state religion. In places where the bill of rights is not incorporated in the constitution, citizens have no choice but to follow what the state provides, including religious beliefs.

The fourth amendment provides that the state cannot forcefully investigate an individual without his or her consent. This clause limits the state authorities from searching and capturing an individual without prior notification. Due to this amendment, the security agencies cannot enter the compound of an individual without a court order.

In other words, no authority has the power to seize another person’s property without following a due process. This was not the case before the introduction of the bill. In the Fifth Amendment, the individual should never be forced to give information. In this case, torture is prohibited. State authorities could prefer using force to acquire critical information from an individual but this law prohibits them from doing so.

Works Cited

Labunski, Richard. James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights: Pivotal Moments in American History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print