Bill of Rights Basics


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Bill of Rights Basics

  1. 1. Bill of Rights BasicsName:______________________________ Pd:_____ Date:______________BEFORE: Read the questions and prompts.DURING: Read the Bill of Rights Basics and record responses.AFTER: Check for Accuracy. The Constitution has been flexible enough to adapt to changing times. Each amendment to theConstitution came about for a reason – to overrule a Supreme Court decision, to force a change in society, or torevise the Constitution. To amend means to change. The Founding Fathers knew that the Constitution wouldneed to be changed over time. As Thomas Jefferson said, the Constitution “belongs to the living, not the dead.”At the same time, the framers wanted the Constitution to provide a lasting and stable framework for thegovernment. To maintain stability, the Founding Fathers made changing the Constitution possible, but difficult. Article V of the Constitution describes the process how changes, called amendments, can be made.Proposing (suggesting) an amendment requires a vote of two-thirds of both houses of Congress, or a nationalconvention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the legislatures of all the states. Therefore, eitherCongress or the states can start the process of amending the Constitution. Proposing an amendment is only thebeginning, or first step. Before an amendment can become part of the Constitution, it must be approved by thelegislatures (or by special conventions) in three-quarters of the states. Once an amendment is approved, itbecomes part of the supreme law of the land. To many of the Founding Fathers the creation of the Constitution seemed nothing less than a miracle.By 1788, it seemed that ratification (approval) would take another miracle. Many delegates to the ConstitutionalConvention objected to the Constitution because it did not list the rights of the people. In order for theConstitution to be approved a compromise (each side gives up something to reach an agreement) had to bemet. The Federalists were anxious to get the Constitution approved and vowed to add a bill of rights, toprotect individual liberties from the federal government. The strategy was to “ratify now, amend later.” By theend of 1788, the Constitution was the law of the land. When Congress did meet no one seemed interested in amending the Constitution. Thomas Jeffersonspoke out, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on Earth, and what nojust government should refuse.” James Madison heard Jefferson’s words and proposed twelve amendments,which he presented to Congress on June 8, 1789. Madison used the English Bill of Rights as a guide. Thesewere rights that belonged to the people of England. Under the Constitution, three-quarters of the states must ratify an amendment before it can become law.The states rejected the first two amendments. By 1791, the required number of states (nine) had approved theother ten amendments. Together, these first ten amendments to the Constitution form the Bill of Rights.1. To amend means to __________________.2. What quote explains why the Framers made the Constitution flexible to meet the needs of society? _______________________________________________________________________________________3. Which article of the Constitution describes the amendment process? ________4. Explain how the amendment process works. ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________4. What compromise was agreed to in order to ratify the Constitution? ________________________________________________________________________________________5. What document did James Madison use to help write the Bill of Rights? _____________________________.6. The first ten amendments to the Constitution are called the
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