Rights Bills in a Proposed Constitution

Bills of Rights and their Risks

Bills of rights are not only unneeded under the proposed constitution, but they would also be risky, according to Hamilton’s argument in Federalist 84. He supports this assertion by emphasizing that rather than focusing on constitutional amendment to include the bills of rights, the Congress should address concerns regarding the legal status of human rights based on the existing content, nature, universality, and jurisdictional justifications (The Federalist #84). Hamilton contends that fundamental human rights serve as safeguards against the negative impacts of severe political, judicial, and social exploitation (Linder). There is no doubt that the U.S. law grants citizens the right to freedom of association, the right to fair trial, the right to freedom of worship, and the right to choose, belong, and participate in political activities (Bill of Rights). While the American States have these rights in written documents as laws, human rights exist in morality and should remain part and parcel of human history. The first fundamental aspect of human right is liberty, which is a state of independence or freedom from political subjugation, incarceration, or oppression. Regarding the first question, the idea of liberty remains separable from the idea of rights as long as there in no moral adherence to rules and regulations. Similarly, the provision of constitutionally-enumerated rights is a necessary component of republican government.

The Gap between Human Rights and Liberty

The gap between human right and liberty can only be bridge when there is moral adherence to the law. In other words, constitutional amendment alone is not the most effective means through which a state of independence can be established. The relationship between human right and liberty has been explored since the declaration of the US independence in 1776 (Staff). Also, there have been several attempts to use the constitution as a means of explaining and controlling the behavior and action of citizens, and for such reasons majority of Americans have engaged in civil right movements to fight for social, economic, and political freedoms. Although most of these efforts have achieved in specific areas of human rights, Americans have not attained the required level of social, economic, and political liberties (The Federalist #84). The law has become an impediment, making the gap between freedom and human right to remain as wide as before independent.

Liberty as a Fundamental Human Right

Adhering to constitutional provision means recognizing the fact that liberty is a fundamental human right. Although there have been attempts to amend the constitution so as to accommodate the bill of rights, the right to personal liberty or freedom traces back to 1789 when the United States used the “Declaration of the Right of Man and Citizen” to protect members of the public from unlawful arrests and detention. The exclusion of the bill of right from the constitution is a means of protecting individuals against excessive force or unlawful use of power. Despite the perceived gap, personal liberty forms the most fundamental component of human right.

Failures of the U.S. Constitution in Fostering Liberty and Human Rights

Hamilton statement is a reflection of the possible failures of the U.S. Constitution in fostering liberty and human rights. Even though democracy involves, in an abstract, the support of human rights including civil and political freedoms, it is difficult to guarantee general improvements through constitutionally ratified social legislation (Bill of Rights). The American constitution is founded on the claim of God as the supreme lawmaker and provider of the fundamental right to life, liberty, and the hunt for happiness. However, there is fear that leaders can use the power given to them by the constitution to infringe the lives of fellow citizens (Staff). The intentions of the Congress to introduce Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution demonstrates the separate ideas of liberty and human rights. If the Congress believed the idea of liberty and rights were not separable, there would be no rush attempts to ratify the constitution.

The Argument against the Bill of Rights

Opponents of constitutional ratification hold the conventional view that the Bill of Rights should not be part of the original draft of the American constitution. This argument is based on Alexander Hamilton’s shot back in Federalist Paper No. 84 when he indicated that including the Bill of Rights in the constitution would be a terrible idea especially to the people of America (Bill of Rights). According to Hamilton, making the Bill of Rights part of the constitution would make it difficult to control the behavior and decisions of people in power, meaning that there would be loopholes to subvert the law for personal gains. Ideally, power not given to the Congress belongs to the people of America and the States, meaning the Congress only needs to perform the roles specified in the constitution. Granting them the power to amend the constitution means that people no longer have the right to be consulted even though they are the sole custodians of the law.

The Power of the Congress and the Rights of Citizens

The call to amend the US constitution by the Bill of Right came at a time when the proponents felt that there were several cases of lost liberties (Annals of Congress). However, Hamilton in his statement indicated that using the Bills of Right in constitutional ratification would grant members of the Congress the power to infringe upon the rights of citizens and States who are the sole custodians of the constitution. According to Hamilton, the Bill of Rights contains numerous exceptions to authority not granted including the colorable excuse to demand more power than what is already given in the constitution. Denying those in power the opportunity to amend laws in ways that conform to their desires is one of the means of upholding respect for human rights. Hamilton argued that the American constitution grants citizens their God-given liberties. Therefore, it is wrong for the Congress to make amendments that would deny people such freedoms.

Protection of Liberty and Human Rights in a Republican Government

Undoubtedly, the provision of constitutionally-enumerated rights is a necessary component of republican government. First and foremost, the 21st century political landscape is concerned with creating a balance between rules required to make the government function and individuals’ liberties guaranteed by the constitution. Similarly, it remains the responsibility of the government to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens (Linder). As such, lawmakers must understand that excessive power granted to members of the Congress may not only deny citizens their constitutions rights but may also maim the functions of the government. One fundamental argument raised concerning freedom and the constitution is that no member of the congress is above the law and that the tree of liberty should be renewed from time to time to allow citizens understand their constitutional mandates. Linking to ideas presented by some of the great philosophers including Martin Luther King Jr., it remains clear that repression, for instance, is not the best way to deal with criminals (Annals of Congress). Even though is a need to provide provision of constitutionally-enumerated rights, the law should not set excessive power conditions to the extent of denying citizens the right to liberty, life, and happiness. Based on this view, it is still evident that the power of the people is sovereign and cannot be substituted for whatever cause.

Republican Government and the Role of the Constitution

It is also true that the constitution establishes a republican form of government that fosters the principles of popular sovereignty. According to this statement, only a constitutional government can safeguard the law because its officials are subject to criticism or frequent changes following both direct and indirect elections (Annals of Congress). The constitution is the legal foundation of a republican government; therefore, every decision made in the Congress should be in line with the critical constitutional principles. Although not outlined in some constitutions, a republican government is mandated to use the Bill of Rights in affirming the democratic values of equality, liberty, and human values. The implementation and interpretation of the constitution when it comes to issues of human life and right, the republican government must ensure that these reasons are equally and correctly applied to create space for democratic processes.

The Role of Bills of Rights in Protecting Liberties and Preventing Tyranny

However, the republican government can be forced to take specific actions such as the injunction on ex-post facto laws and titles of dignity as a way of providing greater security to liberty and antimonarchism (The Federalist #84). Convincingly enough, we have come across instances where those in power practice arbitrary imprisonment without recognizing the timeframe within which illegality was committed. Under such circumstances, governments have been considered perfects tools of tyranny. It is wrong for a state or a political leader to use his or her power to bereave a person of life in whatsoever circumstance or for whatever reason (Bill of Rights). Providing constitutionally-enumerated rights is a way of ensuring that members of the public are free from political persecution and that their property ownership rights are protected by the law.

The Historical Significance of Bills of Rights

Historically, it has been argued that the bills of rights, in their original contexts, were standards set to mark the boundary between kings and their subjects (Bill of Rights). Following they historical use and effects on people, bills of rights have been considered primitive laws that only deny people the opportunity to relate to making other individuals superior to other. It is because of such natural significations that Hamilton and other opponents found reasons to oppose the incorporation of the bill of rights in the American constitution (The Federalist #84). Such rights cannot have space in the constitution supposedly established upon the power of the majority. The Congress is only an immediate executor or republican representatives, meaning that in strictness, they operate as servants of the people who have the powers to remove them from office and elect other “servants.”

Counter Argument in Favor of Bills of Rights

Contrary to the arguments against the bills of rights being part of the constitution, there are numerous bills of rights forming part of the British constitution. Similarly, each state in Britain has its constitution developed from the bill of rights (The Federalist #84). Proponents argue that the sole purpose of a bill of right is to define, declare, and specify the roles of leaders and privileges of citizens in the administrative structure of the government. For instance, the roles of members of the congress are described through customary laws and practices so that citizens cannot plunge into social, economic, and political injustices (Annals of Congress). Moreover, the government performs several functions, and it may be hard to confer those who use their capabilities contrary to the provisions of the constitution (Linder). Despite these arguments, antagonists including Hamilton believe that the constitution identifies a republican government as an institution where the legal rights and freedoms of citizens surpass personal interests of people in power. Therefore, every person including those in power must operate within the rights and frameworks enumerated in the constitution. In other words, the roles and actions of people in power with regards to constitutional amendment must be restricted to ensure uniformity when it comes to the development and application of the law.

Works cited

“Annals of Congress”. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States. “History of Congress.” 42 vols. Washington, D.C.: Gales & Seaton, 1834-56.

“Bill of Rights”: House of Representatives, Amendments to the Constitution, www.constitution.org/ac/001/r01-1/bill_of_rights_hr1789.htm.

“The Federalist #84.” Constitution Society: Everything needed to decide constitutional issues, www.constitution.org/fed/federa84.htm.

Linder, Doug. The Powers of Congress., law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/congpowers.htm.

Staff, LII. “Article I.” LII / Legal Information Institute, 12 Nov. 2009, www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlei.

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