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C O U R S E 
Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases
Professor Kermit Roosevelt, III, University of Pennsylvania
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Bill of Rights
Notes taken on December 6, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
Constitution was written in 1787 and ratified in 1788
but that Constitution, the Founders constitution, isn't the one we live under today
in part because of Supreme Court decisions on amendments
how judges should apply old constitutional provisions to modern circumstances is a difficult question
the words of the Constitution are changed through amendments
our history with amendments has not been one of slow and steady change, but bursts of activity, such as these three:
1. The Bill of Rights
the first 10 amendments
2. The Reconstruction Amendments
followed the Civil War
3. The Progressive Era Amendments
Bill of Rights
the original Constitution was missing what we often think about most when we think of the Constitution: individual rights
the original constitution has some protections for individuals
government cannot create ex post facto laws
no bills of attainder
declaring someone guilty of a crime while denying that person due process of law
but these are limited
lack of protections for individual was not because people were not concerned about them
the Americans had fought a war arguing that their rights as Englishmen had been taken away
the reason the Constitutional Convention didn't add a set of individual rights to the original Constitution is a bit mundane
they were getting homesick
they ran out of time
every state already had a bill of rights to some degree
two groups
George Washington
Alexander Hamilton
James Madison
a strong national government that would have power over the states
will protect us from other countries but also from the small-mindedness of state governments
make sure that states don't do anything unfair to individuals
Thomas Jefferson
George Mason
Patrick Henry
argued that we needed a Bill of Rights
Federalists responded that government only had limited powers anyway and couldn't invade individual rights
other argued that a Bill of Rights would be dangerous
the government could claim that individuals had no rights other than the ones listed
ratifying the Constitution
5 states ratified
Massachusetts ratified with the recommendation that a Bill of Rights be added
4 of next 5 states do the same
so when Constitution does get ratified, the Bill of Rights is one of the first things congress does
draft a list of amendments
send them out to the states
there were twelve
two didn't make it
the ten that did are now what we call the Bill of Rights
to understand the Bill of Rights, you can ask three questions:
1. what were the drafters worried about?
worried about the federal government
worried it would become a tyrant like King George did
2. how did they try to protect us?
gave government limited powers and divided these powers among the branches of government
gave individuals certain rights, this is what the Bill of Rights does
protects certain activities against interference from certain actors, usually the government
also protected state power
the important thing to remember about the Bill of Rights is that is applies only to the federal government
the drafters were not worried about what the states would do to their own citizens
in their minds, states were good and well-meaning
3. how has their solution worked out hundreds of years later?
the Framers thought we would have states standing up against the federal government, but instead we have seen individuals stand up against states