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It might surprise you but there are 4 flaws in the Bill of Rights. The United States is one of few places on earth where one can wish to live apart from the native place. The reasons include pluralism, immaculate liberalism, and long-held individualism.
America is a place where one gets all the possible rights as mentioned in the UN Human Rights Charter, 1948. As a matter of fact, it has evolved into this form from the Bill of Rights.
Through the darkest of the hours, where it upheld slavery and then, when for the first time in human history, a country, so mighty and big, dismantled this institution of slavery. It rendered basic human rights even before the beginning of the 18th century.
That is why Leonard W. Levy, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, in his “Origins of the Bill of Rights” regarded the 10 amendments as the beacon of light. If you are a book nerd or a student of American history and the importance of the Bill of Rights, this is the best book to pick up.
Although it is termed the dawn of human rights, there are many flaws in the Bill of Rights. Congress passed the Bill of Rights in September 1789 and ratified it in December 1791.
These were 10 amendments that laid out the basic rights of common folks as well as the constitutional powers of the country. These words especially proved the linchpin of its system that,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”The Bill of Rights, Amendment I
This gives the citizens basic human rights, freedom of speech, religious freedom, or make parties, leagues, or even pressure groups, and the right to justice. It is not merely a matter of words (written in the constitution) but a matter of practice. It stands for that is written and does justice in most of the cases.
“[A] bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse.”
Thomas Jefferson, December 20, 1787
4 Flaws in the Bill of Rights
There are 4 flaws in the Bill of Rights, to my mind. This is nothing new but since its inception, it has had serious flaws. It denied women and minorities, especially black individuals, their basic human rights for decades to come. It protected slavery. In fact, it offered rights only to white Americans.
Flaws in the Bill of Rights: Poor Gun Laws
The need of the hour is to make some amendments. Firstly I will be changing the gun (control) law. The only reason is that gun-related violence kills more than 40000 citizens in the US. Proportionally, this is one of the higher in the world if not the highest.
A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.Amendment II
Over 100 Americans lose their lives in gun violence and more than 230 get severe injuries each day. It looks more pronounced when one sees it is happening in the US. The loss of life is not quantifiable let alone the economic constraints on the bereaved families. Women especially are vulnerable to it.
Nearly one million women alive have faced gun violence in the US today by their intimate partners, which is one of the 4 flaws in the Bill of Rights.
Women in the US are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries
Grinshteyn E, Hemenway D. Violent death rates in the US compared to those of the other high-income countries, 2015. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 123: 20-26.
Flaws in the Bill of Rights: Flawed Justice System
Secondly, I will be thinking of giving powers to the judiciary. If 1/3 or more go against any law, it should be declared unconstitutional. Now, there should be a 2/3 ratio to declare a decree unconstitutional.
Bruce Cannon Gibney, the author of “The Nonsense Factory: The Making and Breaking of the American Legal System,” supports this thesis. To him, anyone stronger than the judiciary is an autocrat and there are many in our system. It goes against the spirit of the American constitution which says,
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”Preamble of the U.S. Constitution
Further, The system of nominating judges is ineffectual. There always remains space for partiality. Sandra Day O’Connor, the former federal Supreme Court justice also shares the same views.
He says probably the United States is the only country where judges are nominated or appointed. This is against the spirit of law and justice since judges are most likely to be somewhat partial.
Flaws in the Bill of Rights: Protecting Slavery
But above all, the biggest flaw in the Bill of Rights is the protection of slavery. Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky says the Constitution’s biggest flaw is its protection of the institution of slavery. Many provisions either supported or condoned slavery.
It, in a way, solidified the myths of racial discrimination. Today’s racism seems a continuation of the racism in American society. This is one of the biggest flaws in the Bill of Rights.
Bill of Rights is not People-Centered but State-Centered
Moreover, the Bill of Rights is not people-centered but state-centered. It does talk about the rights of individuals but states have the ultimate authority.
Cynthia Levinson and Levinson (2017) in their historic book, ”Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws that Affect Us Today” argue that most of the socio-political, cultural, and economic challenges are because of the US constitution. If you want to understand American society in 2021, this is the best recommendation.
To me, in some cases, when it comes to state vs people, the former wins. Keeping slavery was possible because states were important rather than people. Denying women the right to vote was possible because the state was an autocrat.
That is why, seeing the present situation, I will bring a law to further encrypt the privacy of the public. It is since a strong feeling of distrust and anger on this issue is justified.
In future politics, it is going to play a major role. Recent Pew Research shows nearly 81% of folks are seriously concerned about privacy issues. It will give many of us a sigh of relief. Did I miss any point? What’s your take on it? Do let me know!