The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights can be viewed as the documents that shaped the political, legal, and even economic history of America. Overall, the analysis of these documents can show that the Founding Fathers developed a set of reliable safeguards that could shield the society from the risks of totalitarianism. More importantly, they made the country more resilient to various social stressors. This is one of the main points that can be made. Much attention should be paid to the following issues:
- due process or legal requirements that regulate the work of law-enforcement agencies;
- the right to bear arms;
- freedom of speech or the ability to express one’s thoughts without restraint.
These privileges reflect the values of people who lived in America at the end of the eighteenth century. There requirements were ratified in 1791, and since that time, they have often been applied by legal professionals. Certainly, one cannot say that by the standards of the twenty-first century, these provisions look very revolutionary. Such an assumption can hardly be called accurate. Nevertheless, these elements were unprecedented even during the age of Enlightenment. This is why they can be singled out among others. This paper will explain why these provisions are critical for protecting the rights of citizens against the state oppression.
Overall, the Constitution of the United States can be viewed as the main law which regulates the functioning of American government. This document outlines some of the main principles such as the division of state powers; furthermore, it clearly indicates that America is a representative democracy (The United States Government, 1787, unpaged). Yet, one should also remember about the provisions which identify the rights of individual citizens. These provisions are included in the Bill of Rights or amendments to the constitution of the country. Overall, this law lays the foundations for the “relationships of the government to its citizens” (Ashcroft & Ashcroft, 2014, p. 5).
These are the main aspects that can be singled out. At first, one should speak about the rights to due process (The United States Government, 1789). This term can be described as a set of rules, according to which the society has to respect the natural rights of citizens. For example, due process means that a person can appeal the decision of the court. Furthermore, an individual should have access to the trial by jury. This protection is particularly relevant to such an area as criminal justice. The main implication of this requirement is that the state cannot become an all-powerful entity that can deprive citizens of their liberty and dignity. This inclusion of this element in the Bill of Rights is one of the reasons why American people could put trust in the courts. Furthermore, this safeguard is critical for protecting the property rights of citizens.
Furthermore, it is possible to speak about the right to bear arms (The United States Government, 1789). It should be noted that in the eighteenth century, this right was given mostly to the representatives of aristocracy (Muchembled, 2012, p. 177). Other social groups were not able to use weapons in order to protect themselves against injustice (Muchembled, 2012, p. 177). The authors of the Second Amendment say that this opportunity is “necessary to the security of a free State” (The United States Government, 1789, unpaged). In turn, the amendments included in the U.S. Constitution equaled the opportunities which were available to citizens. To a great extent, American legislators departed from the tradition which existed in other countries. In most cases, the governments of other countries did not enable citizens to use force against the state, even if it had been unjust. This is why the right to bear arms should not be overlooked by the readers.
Furthermore, it is important to remember about the freedom of speech or the opportunity to express one’s views without the threat of legal prosecution (The United States Government, 1989). According to this document, “Congress shall make no law” that can prevent a person from speaking openly (The United States Government, 1989, unpaged). Again, it is important to say that in many other countries, the state was able to suppress the press. In Europe, this practice could be very widespread. However, the same thing could not be said about America in which policy-makers could be subjected to criticism. More importantly, this opportunity was important for improving the work of governmental organizations. In many cases, the improvement was the response to public criticism. This is why the impact of this requirement should not be disregarded by the readers of these documents.
On the whole, these elements of the U.S. Constitution have been vital for the development of American civil society. Their main impact of these safeguards is that that they shield an individual against a hypothetical oppression of the state. Furthermore, they are useful for resolving urgent problems affecting the society. These are the main arguments that can be put forward.
Ashcroft, J. & Ashcroft, J. (2014). Law For Business. Mason, OH: South-Western Publishing. Web.
Muchembled, R. (2012). A History of Violence: From the End of the Middle Ages to the Present.New York, NY: Polity. Web.
The United States Government. (1787). The Constitution of the United States. Web.
The United States Government. (1789). The Bill of Rights. Web.