• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • This Bill of Rights Day, Let's Celebrate the Whole Constitution

    This Bill of Rights day, Let’s Celebrate the Constitution

    Many Americans praise the first ten amendments to our Constitution, collectively called the Bill of Rights, as providing the true protection of our liberty.  What if there were no Bill of Rights? Would our fundamental liberties still be protected? Would we still have the rights to speak freely and to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience?

    Sure we would!

    The Bill of Rights was never considered to be chief guard of our liberty. In fact, many founders argued against including a bill of rights in the Constitution at all. Alexander Hamilton, for one, argued that adding a bill of rights to the Constitution would be dangerous, or at least unnecessary.  Bills of rights, Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 84, are “stipulations between kings and their subjects…reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince.”

    The Constitution is not a bargain between subjects and kings. It is a document of enumerated, limited powers. “We the people” vest each branch of government with specific powers. In Article I, Congress receives “powers herein granted” — not legislative power over everything and anything. Nowhere in the Constitution have “we the people” given Congress power to regulate speech or religion, or to police the states generally.

    Since the Constitution enumerates which powers belong to Congress, a bill of rights “would afford a colorable pretext to claim more [powers] than were granted,” Hamilton wrote. His warnings came to fruition. Congress shows no restraint in its legislation. It regulates everything from light bulbs to orchids. Congress erases religious references from the public sphere and even its own visitor center Congress regulates political speech via campaign finance reform.

    The Constitution itself is the chief guard of our liberties and is more important than any amendment. This Bill of Rights Day, let’s celebrate the whole Constitution.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to This Bill of Rights Day, Let's Celebrate the Whole Constitution

    1. john says:

      sadly, this previous election,s fruition has shown how ignorant we are of our own laws. just talk to any teeanger or young adult about rights and they will tell you without any hesitation that they believe a right to an eduacation or a right to medical aide is a "right". Our ignorance is what we harvest after years of liberal sowing of our minds. May the founding fathers forgive us for wasting their blood.

    2. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      I respectfully disagree with Julia's perspective. A Bill of Rights is critical to limiting government's reach. Contrary to her message, the absence of the first ten amendments would not have stopped congressional, executive and/or judicial trespasses. I do agree that a better understanding of the constitution's guiding principles is greatly needed by all elected and appointed officials.

    3. Ed Miller, Massillon says:

      Most people seem to forget that healthcare and education are part of your liberty – you can obtain them as part of your liberty to choose, but it is not an essential right. You may choose where you want to get an education – private/public/chartered or homeschooling, but you have to realize it's not free. Healthcare- You have the right to choose what healthcare you wish to participate in or pay for – If you don't like main stream medicine, you can choose alternative healthcare, chiropracters, chinese medicine or a witch doctor if you so choose. Again, you have to pay for it. Unlike some rights that people forget they have under liberty – the Right to Locomotion which government makes you pay for; or, The Right to have a business, such as a Restaurant or Tavern, which the government and people strip the rights of these americans to operate a business and serve whomever they choose. If they didn't like smoking in these establishments, the people had the right to go somewhere else or open their own and not offer the privilege of smoking. But on this Bill of Rights Day. the people forget what freedom really means. Control is more popular!

    4. Joe, Yulee Fl. says:

      Stop spending!!! We are throwing good money after bad. Fix something that we already have that is not working, Then lets talk about starting new programs.

    5. LastDoorOnTheRight.c says:

      In the early days of the American Republic, citizens were just shaking off the aftereffects of subjugation to their imperial master, the King of England. Even the congressional representatives were looking for ways to prevent any return of an overreaching central governmental entity. As such, they created the Bill of Rights to protect us. How prescient Hamilton was, however, in foretelling the natural inclination of men in power to eventually use these bill of rights as a pretext to grab more power for themselves and create again a central government with overreaching power that does not appropriately represent its citizenry. We all know history has a way of tending to repeat itself. There are certain universal human tendencies that ensure this repitition. I hope, though, that maybe we learn a little bit more with each cycle.

    6. Dexter, San Francisc says:

      In Life, understanding is the booby-prize — not knowing what one's rights are (and are not) or not acting on them as such, means there aren't any in fact.

      It is never too late to say No to anything or anybody, if one is willing willing to pay for that freedom. This must be announced forcefully and often to those who have assumed leadership today without the ability to organize a thought.

      The Bill of Rights was meant to be a reminder to those who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution; we have the right to see them do so.

      At least make yourself heard on that day.

    7. Bob Stratton Redding says:

      Please send me a copy of Bill of Rights and the Constitution

    8. Dave Laurmil Ventura says:

      Why does the Library of Congress have "ratification" date for the Bill of Rights as Dec 15, 1791…while other sources say it is Dec 15, 1789?

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×