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The [[United States]] '''Bill of Rights''' consists of the first 10 amendments to the [[United States Constitution]].
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{{discrimlaw}}The [[United States]] '''Bill of Rights''' consists of the first 10 amendments to the [[United States Constitution]].  These amendments spell out the rights of U.S. citizens that may not be infringed by their government.
  
These amendments limit the powers of the federal government and protect the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory.
+
Originally, these amendments limited the powers of the federal government and protected the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory from abuses by the federal government, but not state and local governments.  In other words, the [[President of the United States]] couldn't deny a person rights found in the Constitution, but the Governor of [[Alabama]] could and did.
  
 +
The effort to have the Bill of Rights apply to state governments was long, hard, bloody and exposed a hypocritical undercurrent to the 'God-given' rights Americans of the era professed to cherish.  This struggle is known as the "Incorporation Debate" and it continues in modern times, often when one hears a Constitutional lawyer discuss the "original intent" of the founding fathers. 
 +
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It is from this legal debate that most Americans enjoy unencumbered the rights that they have today.
 +
 +
Throughout much of the Twentieth Century, opposition to incorporation of various and sometimes all of the Bill of Rights to the states were hallmark positions of [[conservative]] politicians, particularly in the southern United States.  The Supreme Court cases that forced the Bill of Rights on the state governments were mostly delivered by the [[liberal]] Warren Court, under Chief Justice [[Earl Warren]] from 1953 to 1969.  The Warren Court is still reviled by many conservatives today.
 +
== Incorporation Debate ==
 +
Americans notoriously have no idea where their rights come from, they just know somehow it goes back to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  In reality, the rights we assume have been around for ages have only been around for about 50 years and were mostly won in the courts, such as the [[Earl Warren]]-led Supreme Court.  There are still people alive who remember when [[Griswold v. Connecticut|Connecticut could arrest a husband and wife for using a condom]] (although a husband could still legally rape his wife in New York state [http://www.kylewood.com/familylaw/liberta.htm until 1984]). 
 +
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Sounds crazy, right?  That the government could decide what you put on your willy when you schtup your wife?  Well if you think such a crazy issue is all settled in Modern America, you would be wrong.  In 2003 Pennsylvania Republican Senator [[Rick Santorum]] expressed why conservatives still hate that all these rights came about:
 +
<blockquote>[I]f the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.[http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/culture/2698-Rick-Santorums-Moral-Outrage.html]</blockquote>
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And he wasn't even talking about [[Gay|The Gays]], he was talking about people like you and Bristol Palin. 
 +
 +
In 2010, Kentucky Republican Senate candidate (and [[Tea Party|Teabagger]]) Rand "Son of [[Ron Paul|Ron]]" Paul was asked by [[Rachel Maddow]], "Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?" and he flatly responded, "Yes."<ref>http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2010/05/paul.html</ref>.  [[Sarah Palin]]-endorsed Paul criticized the [[Civil Rights Act|1964 Civil Rights Act]] because desegregation and all those rights infringed upon the "freedom of speech" of racists:
 +
<blockquote>I think what's important about this debate is not written into any specific 'gotcha' on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? . . . I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things freedom requires.<ref>ttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/20/AR2010052003500.html</ref></blockquote>
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The 1964 Act was one of the efforts of the executive and legislative branches to force the Bill of Rights on the mob rule state governments who were allowing awful things to happen under the guise of '[[White power|As much freedom [for whites] as possible]]'. 
 +
 +
That truly is the crux of the argument: whose rights matter more?  "Laws often represent a balance between contending rights," wrote Michael Gerson in the ''[[Washington Post]]''.  "As a [[libertarian]], Paul believes that property rights are more important than the right not to be humiliated because of your race in front of your children."
 +
 +
The incorporation debate rages on, even though most Americans think such debates are settled (except [[gay marriage|gay people, who don't have all their rights yet]]). 
 +
=== Feds v. States ===
 +
See, the Bill of Rights originally was only all about the federal government, that the dopes in Washington D.C. couldn't force you to house filthy, rude soldiers like the British did; or that the FBI couldn't unreasonably search and seize your trailer home (though it would be reasonable if you got rid of that old toilet in the yard that you use as a flower pot). 
 +
 +
But that's the feds, not the guvs; since America existed, the Bill of Rights was deemed to not apply to the state governments.  They could write their ''own'' Constitutions, interpret their ''own'' standards of rights, and more-or-less treat their people how they wanted.  And they did.
 +
 +
=== American Civil War ===
 +
In the 1860s, [[American Civil War|treasonous southerners attacked the country so they could keep their slave economy]], and they lost their horrible civil war.  It dawned on more than a few Americans that their Bill of Rights was pretty meaningless when racist state governments were happy to create their own mini human hells for blacks and other people deemed undesirable.  So in 1868 the country changed the Constitution and adopted the 14th Amendment, which said the states can't do evil shit anymore. The states ''must'' follow the Bill of Rights, and it schooled them that blacks are humans too (believe it or not, racist southern Civil War pricks) so they are entitled to those rights, too.
 +
 +
=== Welcome to the new America, same as the old America ===
 +
And then nothing changed for decades.
 +
 +
For the next 100 years or so, the country, particularly the south, had lynchings, [[segregation]], [[Ku Klux Klan]], voter fraud and the [[Jim Crow]] era.  Cases were denied, people who questioned the system were murdered, and many blacks lost their rights to vote so they faced politicians who were unsympathetic, even hostile to their needs.  Politicians like [[Strom Thurmond]] were plentiful and proud, defiant defenders of the idea that blacks didn't deserve the same rights, which was some of the worst shit in America's history.
 +
 +
States were getting more brazen in trampling Constitutional rights, and the courts started to listen.  Slowly, very slowly, federal court cases up to the Supreme Court started to force the states to follow the Bill of Rights by applying the [[due process]] clause of the 14th Amendment.  The states fought and only went kicking and screaming.
 +
 +
The process sped up drastically under national hero Chief Justice [[Earl Warren]], whose court was largely responsible for making sure the states stop taking your stuff, throwing you in jail for stupid reasons and getting involved in your love life.  Only fifty years ago that was still happening all the time, [[Lawrence v. Texas|and it still does]]. 
 +
 +
Because the Warren Court was so active in enacting the 14th Amendment and forcing the Bill of Rights on the states, many conservatives consider it one of the most liberal activist courts and they hate it.  Ew, they just hate it so damn much.
 +
 +
=== The arguments, generally ===
 +
Generally, [[conservatives]] argued for [[states rights]] in saying that the Bill of Rights was only meant to curtail the power of the federal government.  [[Liberals]] argued that the principle that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" is an unequivocal statement that does not ''only'' apply to a federal government. 
 +
 +
For instance, it has only been since 1958 that states can't mess with people's freedom to associate with whomever they want to advance their beliefs and ideas.<ref>National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449</ref>  That was the year this right was legally decided after Alabama tried to kick the [[NAACP]] out of the state for the legal reason "we don't want them coloreds gettin' uppity on us."  The state tried to confiscate the bank records, leases and membership lists of the the black civil rights organization; prosecuted it; and held it in contempt for not releasing the records.  The NAACP sued to the Supreme Court and Alabama lost.  Before that moment, Alabama thought it had every right to do what it was doing, fought the NAACP and federal government tooth-and-nail—the hillbilly Alabama Supreme Court even 'overturned' one of the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings, as if—and many, many people agreed with the state. 
 +
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But they lost and to this day they are bitter and complain about judges who "legislate from the bench" because the Supreme Court incorporated the Bill of Rights to ''all'' governments in the United States, not just the federal.  Few sane people want to return to how things were before that time.
 +
 +
=== Unincorporated Amendments ===
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Mostly because there are very few scenarios where states would have an opportunity to violate certain rights, Amendments to the Bill of Rights that have never been ruled to apply to the state governments include, amongst others, Amendment III (Freedom from quartering of soldiers); Amendment V (Right to indictment by a grand jury); Amendment VII (Right to jury trial in civil cases); and Amendment VIII (Protections against "excessive" bail and "excessive" fines).
 +
 +
So if [[Texas]] raises its own army, then there might be a case where [[Rick Perry]] forces some failed wildcatter in Van Horn to house a bunch of swarthy Texas Army soldiers, and an Amendment III case might come up.  Since it's unconstitutional for a state to raise its own army, if that happens there are likely much bigger issues that will be dealt with than an Amendment III Supreme Court incorporation case.
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== Other stuff ==
 
The [[Second Amendment|second]] of these amendments enshrines the right of U.S. citizens to bear arms. This right is apparently de facto available to Iraqi citizens thanks to the Pentagon.<ref>[[190,000 guns]]</ref>
 
The [[Second Amendment|second]] of these amendments enshrines the right of U.S. citizens to bear arms. This right is apparently de facto available to Iraqi citizens thanks to the Pentagon.<ref>[[190,000 guns]]</ref>
  
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==See also==
 
==See also==
 
*{{e|Needed Constitutional Amendments hub|Needed Constitutional Amendments}}
 
*{{e|Needed Constitutional Amendments hub|Needed Constitutional Amendments}}
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*[[Griswold v. Connecticut]]
  
 
==Footnotes==
 
==Footnotes==

Revision as of 00:46, 22 May 2010

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Interpretation
Issues
The United States Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. These amendments spell out the rights of U.S. citizens that may not be infringed by their government.

Originally, these amendments limited the powers of the federal government and protected the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory from abuses by the federal government, but not state and local governments. In other words, the President of the United States couldn't deny a person rights found in the Constitution, but the Governor of Alabama could and did.

The effort to have the Bill of Rights apply to state governments was long, hard, bloody and exposed a hypocritical undercurrent to the 'God-given' rights Americans of the era professed to cherish. This struggle is known as the "Incorporation Debate" and it continues in modern times, often when one hears a Constitutional lawyer discuss the "original intent" of the founding fathers.

It is from this legal debate that most Americans enjoy unencumbered the rights that they have today.

Throughout much of the Twentieth Century, opposition to incorporation of various and sometimes all of the Bill of Rights to the states were hallmark positions of conservative politicians, particularly in the southern United States. The Supreme Court cases that forced the Bill of Rights on the state governments were mostly delivered by the liberal Warren Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren from 1953 to 1969. The Warren Court is still reviled by many conservatives today.

Incorporation Debate

Americans notoriously have no idea where their rights come from, they just know somehow it goes back to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In reality, the rights we assume have been around for ages have only been around for about 50 years and were mostly won in the courts, such as the Earl Warren-led Supreme Court. There are still people alive who remember when Connecticut could arrest a husband and wife for using a condom (although a husband could still legally rape his wife in New York state until 1984).

Sounds crazy, right? That the government could decide what you put on your willy when you schtup your wife? Well if you think such a crazy issue is all settled in Modern America, you would be wrong. In 2003 Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum expressed why conservatives still hate that all these rights came about:

[I]f the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.[1]

And he wasn't even talking about The Gays, he was talking about people like you and Bristol Palin.

In 2010, Kentucky Republican Senate candidate (and Teabagger) Rand "Son of Ron" Paul was asked by Rachel Maddow, "Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?" and he flatly responded, "Yes."[1]. Sarah Palin-endorsed Paul criticized the 1964 Civil Rights Act because desegregation and all those rights infringed upon the "freedom of speech" of racists:

I think what's important about this debate is not written into any specific 'gotcha' on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? . . . I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things freedom requires.[2]

The 1964 Act was one of the efforts of the executive and legislative branches to force the Bill of Rights on the mob rule state governments who were allowing awful things to happen under the guise of 'As much freedom [for whites] as possible'.

That truly is the crux of the argument: whose rights matter more? "Laws often represent a balance between contending rights," wrote Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. "As a libertarian, Paul believes that property rights are more important than the right not to be humiliated because of your race in front of your children."

The incorporation debate rages on, even though most Americans think such debates are settled (except gay people, who don't have all their rights yet).

Feds v. States

See, the Bill of Rights originally was only all about the federal government, that the dopes in Washington D.C. couldn't force you to house filthy, rude soldiers like the British did; or that the FBI couldn't unreasonably search and seize your trailer home (though it would be reasonable if you got rid of that old toilet in the yard that you use as a flower pot).

But that's the feds, not the guvs; since America existed, the Bill of Rights was deemed to not apply to the state governments. They could write their own Constitutions, interpret their own standards of rights, and more-or-less treat their people how they wanted. And they did.

American Civil War

In the 1860s, treasonous southerners attacked the country so they could keep their slave economy, and they lost their horrible civil war. It dawned on more than a few Americans that their Bill of Rights was pretty meaningless when racist state governments were happy to create their own mini human hells for blacks and other people deemed undesirable. So in 1868 the country changed the Constitution and adopted the 14th Amendment, which said the states can't do evil shit anymore. The states must follow the Bill of Rights, and it schooled them that blacks are humans too (believe it or not, racist southern Civil War pricks) so they are entitled to those rights, too.

Welcome to the new America, same as the old America

And then nothing changed for decades.

For the next 100 years or so, the country, particularly the south, had lynchings, segregation, Ku Klux Klan, voter fraud and the Jim Crow era. Cases were denied, people who questioned the system were murdered, and many blacks lost their rights to vote so they faced politicians who were unsympathetic, even hostile to their needs. Politicians like Strom Thurmond were plentiful and proud, defiant defenders of the idea that blacks didn't deserve the same rights, which was some of the worst shit in America's history.

States were getting more brazen in trampling Constitutional rights, and the courts started to listen. Slowly, very slowly, federal court cases up to the Supreme Court started to force the states to follow the Bill of Rights by applying the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. The states fought and only went kicking and screaming.

The process sped up drastically under national hero Chief Justice Earl Warren, whose court was largely responsible for making sure the states stop taking your stuff, throwing you in jail for stupid reasons and getting involved in your love life. Only fifty years ago that was still happening all the time, and it still does.

Because the Warren Court was so active in enacting the 14th Amendment and forcing the Bill of Rights on the states, many conservatives consider it one of the most liberal activist courts and they hate it. Ew, they just hate it so damn much.

The arguments, generally

Generally, conservatives argued for states rights in saying that the Bill of Rights was only meant to curtail the power of the federal government. Liberals argued that the principle that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" is an unequivocal statement that does not only apply to a federal government.

For instance, it has only been since 1958 that states can't mess with people's freedom to associate with whomever they want to advance their beliefs and ideas.[3] That was the year this right was legally decided after Alabama tried to kick the NAACP out of the state for the legal reason "we don't want them coloreds gettin' uppity on us." The state tried to confiscate the bank records, leases and membership lists of the the black civil rights organization; prosecuted it; and held it in contempt for not releasing the records. The NAACP sued to the Supreme Court and Alabama lost. Before that moment, Alabama thought it had every right to do what it was doing, fought the NAACP and federal government tooth-and-nail—the hillbilly Alabama Supreme Court even 'overturned' one of the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings, as if—and many, many people agreed with the state.

But they lost and to this day they are bitter and complain about judges who "legislate from the bench" because the Supreme Court incorporated the Bill of Rights to all governments in the United States, not just the federal. Few sane people want to return to how things were before that time.

Unincorporated Amendments

Mostly because there are very few scenarios where states would have an opportunity to violate certain rights, Amendments to the Bill of Rights that have never been ruled to apply to the state governments include, amongst others, Amendment III (Freedom from quartering of soldiers); Amendment V (Right to indictment by a grand jury); Amendment VII (Right to jury trial in civil cases); and Amendment VIII (Protections against "excessive" bail and "excessive" fines).

So if Texas raises its own army, then there might be a case where Rick Perry forces some failed wildcatter in Van Horn to house a bunch of swarthy Texas Army soldiers, and an Amendment III case might come up. Since it's unconstitutional for a state to raise its own army, if that happens there are likely much bigger issues that will be dealt with than an Amendment III Supreme Court incorporation case.

Other stuff

The second of these amendments enshrines the right of U.S. citizens to bear arms. This right is apparently de facto available to Iraqi citizens thanks to the Pentagon.[4]

There are some people who treat these Ten Amendments as having a similar level of holiness to the similarly named Ten Commandments. Of course, they have their own special interpretation of both amendments and commandments, so the lot all work out supporting their agenda.

See also

Footnotes

  1. http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2010/05/paul.html
  2. ttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/20/AR2010052003500.html
  3. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449
  4. 190,000 guns
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