1 Federalist resisted adding the bill of rights as being
unnecessary, if a ambitious politican wanted to break the
constitutional safe guards they could -make the Bill pointless.
2 Indeed, the bill of Right has clearly added an important dimension to the
Constitution by making it difficult for politicans to take away the rights of
sections of the population that are disliked by the democratic majority.
3 Most of the constitutional safeguards
offer no defence against the
oppression of the tyranny of the majority
3.1 Seperation of powers do not protect marginalised groups if
both branches of the government are control by racist
3.2 Election often enpower the majority
3.3 Federalism can be used as an excuse for local tyrants to resist interference
from the national government when they are mistreating marginal groups
4 However the bill of right applies to everyone and
provide justifications for arguing for equal treatment
- the Bill has a distinctive counter-majoritarian
5 The first ten amendments of the Constitution, which make
up the Bill of Rights, came into force on 15 December
1791. There is a distinct pattern to these amendments:
5.1 Amendments I and II protect individual freedoms from the
government, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech and
freedom of assembly. Freedom of the press is also guaranteed
5.2 Amendments III and IV protect private
property from government intrusion,
5.3 Amendments V, VI, VII and VIII ensure proper treatment of people
who have been arrested through custody, trial and sentencing.
5.4 Amendment IX guarantees rights not covered in the previous eight.
5.5 Amendment X reinforces the principle of Federalism
6 Amendments to the Constitution
6.1 The 11th, 12th, 16th,20th, 22nd, 25th and 27th
Amendments all clarify or revise the work of the three
branches of government, for example
6.1.1 Senators have been elected since the 17th
Amendment was passed in 1913
6.1.2 The 22nd Amendment, passed in 1951, limited the
number of terms a President can serve to two.
6.1.3 If the President is temporarily unable to serve, the 25th Amendment,
passed in 1967, sets out the procedure for replacing him.
6.2 The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments are generally known as the Civil Rights Amendments.
After the Civil War, the three Amendments abolished slavery (1865), extended the protect of
the Bill of Rights to African Americans (A A) (1868) and gave A A the right to vote (1870). By
the 1960's these rights still did not apply to A A and the Poll tax, one of the methods to stop
them from voting, was abolished by the 24th Amendment, passed in 1964
6.3 The 19th, 23rd and 26th Amendments expended the range of people entitled to vote. Women gained the
right to vote in 1920, people living in Washington DC gained the right to vote in presidential elections in
1961 (but are still not represented in congress) and the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1971
6.4 The 18th Amendment, passed in 1919, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, proved to be a
disastrous failure and had to be replealed by the 21th Amendment, passed in 1933
6.5 Amendments affecting
elections and officeholders
6.5.1 Electoral collage. 1804 Amendment
6.5.2 President holding term for two office
6.5.3 Voting reform abolition of property qualification
6.6 Amendments affecting the
power the federal government
6.6.1 Introduction of national income tax
6.6.2 ERA failure - worry about women in combat role
6.6.3 Balance Budget Amendment failed - new called from
Republican after the balloning of the budget definct
6.7 Change by interpretation
6.7.1 1803 Supreme Court assert the power of judical review
6.7.2 Supreme court fail to act until after WW2 on segrigation
6.7.3 Only until the 20th century did the federal government
play a small role in the lives of individual citizens
6.7.4 The Court has not always favoured a liberal position, or that it has come down on the
side of indiciduals rather than governments - although until the 1990's it general did so.
6.7.5 The 2001 Patriot Act, which many liberal commentators believe to be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court has yet to make a definitive judgment on this law.