On 230th Anniversary of Ratification, Upholding the Bill of Rights Is More Important Now Than Ever


Wednesday marked a very important anniversary in the history of the republic: 230 years since the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights contains the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The “father of the Constitution,” James Madison, provided the first draft of the Bill of Rights, which set boundaries the federal government could not encroach.

Some of the best-known rights include the First Amendment’s freedom of speech, freedom of the press and free exercise of religion.

The Second Amendment recognizes the right to keep and bear arms.

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The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires warrants based on probable cause.

Then there’s the Fifth Amendment guarantee that no one can be denied life, liberty or property without due process of law, and the Sixth Amendment rights to a trial by jury and legal counsel.

The recognition of these rights is at the center of what it means to be an American.

They are the structure the Founders put in place to secure those God-given rights the Declaration of Independence proclaims we are endowed with: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Supreme Court has ruled that most of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights apply to state and local governments, as well.

In an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson last month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. argued convincingly that all of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, save the Second Amendment, were violated by governments during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The rise of censorship, the rise of the suppression of religious freedoms, of property rights, closing a million businesses without just compensation or due process, the abolition of jury trials, which are guaranteed by the Sixth and Seventh Amendment for any vaccine company that hurts you, all of these — and the rise of a kind of track-and-trace surveillance state has been troubling to people, both Democrats and Republicans,” said Kennedy, a lawyer and son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

“During that first year, we literally got rid of every amendment to the Constitution except the Second Amendment,” he added.

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Kennedy took particular aim at how the free exercise of religion was limited during the pandemic, with churches being forced to close.

“We’re lucky that there was a whole generation of Americans in 1776 who said, ‘It would be better to die than to not have these rights written down.’ And they gave us that. They gave us that gift of that Bill of Rights,” Kennedy said.

He concluded, “Our kids deserve to have the same Bill of Rights that our parents gave us. And people need — whatever their fears are, they need to put those aside and demand that we get those things back.”

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Then-President Franklin Roosevelt shared similar sentiments in a national radio address as part of the special program “We Hold These Truths,” delivered just over one week after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 on the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights being ratified.

“Free Americans,” he said, “no date in the long history of freedom means more to liberty-loving men in all liberty-loving countries than the 15th day of December, 1791. On that day, 150 years ago, a new nation, through an elected Congress, adopted a declaration of human rights which has influenced the thinking of all mankind from one end of the world to the other.”

Roosevelt argued that what the world faced at that time was an attempt to stamp out the Bill of Rights by the totalitarian regimes in Nazi Germany and Japan.

“It is an attempt which could succeed only if those who have inherited the gift of liberty had lost the manhood to preserve it. But we Americans know that the determination of this generation of our people to preserve liberty is as fixed and certain as the determination of that early generation of Americans to win it,” he said.

“We will not, under any threat, or in the face of any danger, surrender the guarantees of liberty our forefathers framed for us in our Bill of Rights.”

“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” the old saying goes.

Here’s to the Americans who are protesting and going to court, when necessary, to preserve the Bill of Rights in our time.

A version of this article originally appeared on Patriot Project.

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