The first 10 amendments to the Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. Written by James Madison in response to calls from several states for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties, the Bill of Rights lists specific prohibitions on governmental power.
A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens.
George Mason was one of the leading figures in creating the Bill of Rights. After storming out of the Constitutional Convention because the Constitution didn't contain a declaration of human rights, he worked to pass amendments that would protect citizens from an intrusive government.
The Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States—ranks alongside the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as one of the nation's most treasured documents. Since its adoption in 1791, the Bill of Rights has served as the cornerstone of basic American freedoms.
The First Amendment: Basic Liberties. The First Amendment is perhaps the most important part of the Bill of Rights. It protects five of the most basic liberties. They are freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government to right wrongs.
On September 25, 1789, Congress transmitted to the state Legislatures twelve proposed amendments to the Constitution. Numbers three through twelve were adopted by the states to become the United States (U.S.) Bill of Rights, effective December 15, 1791. James Madison proposed the U.S. Bill of Rights.
Before William and Mary could be proclaimed king and queen they had to agree to accept the Bill of Rights, which they did in February 1689. The English Bill of Rights, which was an act of Parliament, guaranteed certain rights of the citizens of England from the power of the crown.
The Bill of Rights itself cannot be changed. The term refers to the first ten amendments to the U.S. constitution. If there were some specific change you wanted to make, it would require adding a new amendment to supersede some element of the Bill of Rights. There is already precedent for this.
The Constitution, with its 27 amendments, has been amended only 17 times since the first 10—which make up the Bill of Rights—were ratified in 1791.