The Bill of Rights was intended to limit the power of
A. state governments over citizens
B. citizens to amend the Constitution
C. the federal government
D. legislatures to amend the U.S. Constitution
E. All of the above.
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The Bill of Rights, which is the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution, was intended to limit the power of the federal government. For example, the federal government was now prohibited from interfering with our free speech and freedom of religion. The federal government could not now deprive people of their right to confront witnesses against them or deprive them of the right to call witnesses on their behalf. There are many important rights in the Bill of Rights, and they are all protection against the federal government. We should go through the other choices, though, so you understand why they are incorrect.
The Bill of Rights was not intended to limit the power of state governments over citizens, and in fact, there were no limitations whatsoever in the Constitution on the power of state governments over citizens except to the degree that there were enumerated rights amongst the three federal branches of government. There was nothing in the Bill of Rights that stopped states from depriving their residents of any of the rights contained there, for example, the right to a fair trial, the right to be informed of the charges against one, and so on. It was not until the 14th Amendment that there was protection from the states regarding any of these rights.
The Bill of Rights had nothing to do with amending the Constitution, for citizens or legislatures. The process to amend the Constitution is set forth in Article V. And, it should be noted, it is extremely difficult to amend the Constitution. One reason is that three-fourths of the states would have to agree on the amendment, and there are few issues in which this is the case.
Clearly, given the fact that there is only one correct answer, "all of the above" cannot be the correct choice.
It is important to know your Constitution. It is the foundation on which the United States is built, and it is there to protect us. In fact, even though I teach about the Constitution, I carry a little copy in my purse all the time, just in case I need to refer to it.
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