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The Five Amendments to the U.S. Constitution That Apply to Criminal Procedure and the Specific Rights Granted by Each Amendment

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By the time the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, it had become clear to many American leaders that a more powerful federal government was necessary in order to effectively deal with the challenges facing the young nation. Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government had neither the power to raise taxes nor the authority to regulate interstate commerce. Additionally, there was no established mechanism through which states could adjudicate conflicts

Many of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention understood that the Articles of Confederation would need to be supplanted entirely, not merely revised.

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The Bill of Rights was strongly influenced by the Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason. Other precursors include English documents such as the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the English Bill of Rights, and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. One of the many points of contention between Federalists, who advocated a strong national government, and Anti-Federalists, who wanted power to remain with state and local governments, was the Constitution’s lack of a bill of rights that would place specific limits on government power. Federalists argued that the Constitution did not need a bill of rights, because the people and the states kept any powers not given to the federal government. Anti-Federalists held that a bill of rights was necessary to safeguard individual liberty. Madison, then a member of the U.S

House of Representatives, altered the Constitution’s text where he thought appropriate. However, several representatives, led by Roger Sherman, objected, saying that Congress had no authority to change the wording of the Constitution. Therefore, Madison’s changes were presented as a list of amendments that would follow Article VII.

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On balance, When the United States amends its constitution, it admits to its imperfectness and looks toward the future. A constitutional amendment is perhaps the ultimate engaging force in a politically disengaged populace; however, in the ultra-polarized climate of modern American politics, it is hard to imagine that two-thirds of the government will ever agree on anything of that scale. The Constitution is in fact the property of the American people, but it may only stay alive as long as there are enough engaged citizens to breathe life back into it.

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