POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Bill of Rights

After the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the US Founding Fathers started to create constitutions and bill of rights for the 13 founding states. In the process of crafting a federal constitution, Anti-Federalists raised concerns over whether the constitution gives enough freedom to the people and properly limits government power.

Representative James Madison subsequently introduced nine constitutional amendments into the House of Representatives in June 1789 which, among other things, limits the powers of congress. In September 1789, he presented twelve approved amendments to be ratified by the states, of which ten were included in the Bill of Rights.

Today, the Bill of Rights is still of great constitutional importance as it offers significant freedoms to individual citizens and restricts government power in certain areas.

Contents of the Bill of Rights

Preamble to the Bill of Rights

  • Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press
  • Amendment 2 - The Right to Bear Arms
  • Amendment 3 - The Housing of Soldiers
  • Amendment 4 - Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
  • Amendment 5 - Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
  • Amendment 6 - Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases
  • Amendment 7 - Rights in Civil Cases
  • Amendment 8 - Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden
  • Amendment 9 - Other Rights Kept by the People
  • Amendment 10 - Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People
See also: Presidential election, law, constitution

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