Bill of Rights Day on December 15, 2015
It has been said that the Declaration of Independence was the promise; the Constitution was the fulfillment. Then you might say that the Bill of Rights was the affirmation. Today, December 15, those enduring first ten amendments to the Constitution are 224 years old. GPO makes available a pocket copy of The Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence that includes the celebrated Bill of Rights.
Since they were ratified in 1791, that compact collection of amendments have become some of the most talked about text in history. Before the guarantees of the Bill of Rights were plainly enumerated in the Constitution, there was a rumbling fear of the tyrannical actions of government. In response, James Madison authored a list of amendments requiring approval from the House, Senate, and all states. His list enshrined as inalienable rights the self-evident truths invoked in preceding documents.
Although the phrase itself does not appear explicitly in the Constitution, The Bill of Rights is a foundation stone of a document that has lived long and large. Because of it, fundamental freedoms such as religion, speech, and due process of law are formally protected within the supreme law of the land.
The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights are three extraordinary documents. They are the slow-burning coals of a quiet revolution, a steady progression to improve the quality of American life. Together they secure individual liberties and safeguard the spirit of popular sovereignty extolled in the phrase “we the people.” Now is as good a time as any for “we the people” to re-read them.