Nov 16, 2020 in Politics

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#1

The proposal of the original Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787 had only a few individual guarantees of rights, as it mainly focused on machinery establishment for effective federal government. Charles Pinckney was the first to propose dome right guarantees but the Committee did not agree to adopt them. Initially, the new rights were adopted. However, they included only selected proposals, such as provision for the prohibition of laws, which allowed punishment that was not classified as criminal at the time of commitment, provision that barred legislative determinations of punishment and guilt. The framers of the Constitution claimed that the document protected liberty mainly through powers division. That might created difficulties to oppressive majorities to capture and form power that would be used against minorities. There were also threats that the debates might be prolonged, which could have taken even more time. Anti-Federalists opposed the Constitution claiming it was a threat to liberties. They wanted delegates to include provisions that would actually be about an individuals rights protection. The serious amendments were announced to be taken up by the Federalists, which is now known as the Bill of Rights. The necessity of the concession was not doubtful, as it was needed to secure the Constitutions ratification. Hereafter, the government was separated into two groups: those who were in favor of the Bill of Right and those who were against its implementation. Thomas Jefferson definitely supported the first side as he found the omission of such bill before as a serious mistake.

 

However, there are some arguments with which I agree. To my mind, the original Constitution did not need the Bill of Rights. James Madison called it a parchment barrier, but he believed in a need of some extra provisions that would protect the rights of individuals and he was actually a father of it. Other Congress members saw it as a silly exercise; all the rights have always belonged to people and nothing in the Constitution was about giving the right to take it away. It was even mentioned that the situation could be twisted against people. Someone may argue that the absence of some provisions in the Bill of Rights might be a reason for infringement upon the absent one. In order to avoid it, the Ninth Amendment was added to the list of provisions. To the opinion of the majority of the judges, it creates even more disparity and misunderstandings in the Constitution (Exploring Constitutional Conflicts).

To my mind, the initiation of the Bill of Rights was not needed, as people initially had all the rights and powers they needed, which were not given to the federal government.

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The Federalists had their own point of view on that, which was the idea that the government of that time was already on a strong national level. There was no need to create any loops of possibilities to change it. Many people of that time already found it as an unneeded step taken by the Congress.

 
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#2

The purpose of the Bill of Rights was and is to give more rights to an individual. However, if patriotism makes a person turn a blind eye to the government infringing on its citizens liberties, there might be a tension or even a conflict.

Alexander Hamilton found the Bill of Rights not necessary because of the U.S. democratic nature of the Constitution and because the Constitution could not list all the rights. He had a feeling that the important issues could have been inadvertently omitted. James Madison, was only later persuaded by Jefferson. The Bill of Rights with its first ten amendments originally applied only to the national government.

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The First Amendment includes the most fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to assemble, freedom of the press, and the right to the governments petition for a redress of grievances (XX1). These all refer to a resemblance to liberties. However, people always have some rights and duties. Government started using patriotisms and made amendments to the Bill of Rights and issues surrounding the terrorism. Good example to that can be Patriotic Act. George W. Bush responded to the September 11th attack in many ways. However, one of them was about enacting the Patriot Act and signing it into law. The Patriot Act includes a broad definition of terrorism and wider powers of detention prosecution and surveillance, according to which any dissenter might end up in jail. The grounds for incarceration might be even a protest to the Patriot Act. More and more people worry that government policies might violate the basic liberties, as government has now more rights to use any means and violate persons privacy in order to expose a terrorist (Glasser, 2001).

If to look deeper, I would definitely say that some tension between patriotism and liberties has always been present during the creation of the Bill of Rights and especially, when the Patriot Act was signed and enforced. First of all, it was like a vote of no confidence to the government, as the Constitution already had all proper laws and provisions within, but still something new and more specific was added. Patriots always stand for their county and government, and both patriotism and liberties must be walking side by side. However, the Bill of Rights has created a possibility to alter some important provisions of the Constitution, which are sometimes controversial. Its First Amendment was like an assumption that the main enemy of liberty was Congress, which was a part of the government. The latter is the one real patriot to protect and believe in, as government represents its citizens. Secondly, civil liberties might not always coincide with the vision of national security, which is related to patriotism. It is about countrys protection, which is why even some conflicts may develop.

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