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Thread: Do the Bill of Rights apply to the States?

  1. #1

    Default Do the Bill of Rights apply to the States?

    Do States have to follow the Bill of Rights or is that only reserved for the Federal government? The 1st amendment says Congress cannot pass a law prohibiting free speech, however through the 14th amendment are States obligated to follow the Bill of Rights? I always thought that the State has to have its own constitution if it wanted to protect the rights of its citizens in that State.

    If a State does something to violate the Constitution, such as prohibiting free speech, does the Federal government have a role in moving in and restoring it? If so, how would they do it? If Illinois decided to have a police state, is the Federal government obligated to force Illinois to restore basic rights?

    The Constitution protects free speech, but what if in a public school students use slander and swear. Should that be prohibited or would that violate the 1st amendment? Is this up to the school district?

    I hear that the Constitution was designed to prevent the federal government from treading on our civil liberties. But how do we prevent local governments from violating our rights? Does the Constitution extend to ALL governments?



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  3. #2

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    Well, it is a matter of some debate. That said, the federal government has been enforcing the Bill of Rights against state and local governments for quite some time now.

    I think the intent of the founders is pretty obvious. What good would it have done, for example, to pass the guarantee of a free press back when each newspaper was local if it were not intended to apply to localities?
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  4. #3

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    The bill of rights applied to the federal government only, then along came the 14th amendment which among other things made the bill of rights apply to the states. It is not often brought up but a right in the bill of rights not found in a state constitution would be applicable to the state as an unenumerated right.

    Does this make it any clearer ?

  5. #4

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    I am thinking that the intent of the Founders was to reserve the Bill of Rights only for the Federal government because wouldn't strong states rights supporters, such as Jefferson, be worried if the Federal government tried imposing its will on a state using the excuse "we are only trying to protect their rights"?

    I'm under the impression that they were expecting the states to adopt these rights under their own constitutions by their own legislatures. Because many states still had their own official religious denomination at the time of the Constitution, which would have violated the 1st amendment.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CroSpartacus View Post
    I am thinking that the intent of the Founders was to reserve the Bill of Rights only for the Federal government because wouldn't strong states rights supporters, such as Jefferson, be worried if the Federal government tried imposing its will on a state using the excuse "we are only trying to protect their rights"?

    I'm under the impression that they were expecting the states to adopt these rights under their own constitutions by their own legislatures. Because many states still had their own official religious denomination at the time of the Constitution, which would have violated the 1st amendment.
    The issue cuts both ways. If a state were to egregiously abridge the free speech rights of its residents, is anyone here going to argue that they are within their legitimate powers to do so? Rights are rights and they do not vary from state to state. If CA decided tomorrow that it was OK to arbitrarily abduct citizens from the street and murder them, who will call it legitimate?
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  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    The issue cuts both ways. If a state were to egregiously abridge the free speech rights of its residents, is anyone here going to argue that they are within their legitimate powers to do so? Rights are rights and they do not vary from state to state. If CA decided tomorrow that it was OK to arbitrarily abduct citizens from the street and murder them, who will call it legitimate?
    Nobody will call it legitimate, but that doesn't mean the Federal Government should step in to fix it. If that were true, then it would follow that if the Federal Government of the United States violated some rights, then the United Nations should come to the U.S. and ensure those rights were respected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by low preference guy View Post
    Nobody will call it legitimate, but that doesn't mean the Federal Government should step in to fix it. If that were true, then it would follow that if the Federal Government of the United States violated some rights, then the United Nations should come to the U.S. and ensure those rights were respected.
    Your reasoning is nonsequitur. The relationship between feds and the states is not, AFAIK, the same as between the USA and the UN.

    The states and the feds should be watching each others' movements and checking them when they go amok. That isn't happening. Why?
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    http://freedomisobvious.blogspot.com
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    ignominia et contemptum tyrannis

    Habeo excelsum artem; afflixerim cum crudelitate illis qui laedas me

    Shelley's thinly veiled warning to tyrants:

    The monster saw my determination in my face and gnashed his teeth in the impotence of anger. "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains--revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    The states and the feds should be watching each others' movements and checking them when they go amok.
    The intent actually was that the Fed would run national defense, coin money, and keep trade regular among states. It was not meant to "watch the states' movement", just like the United Nations shouldn't interfere in the internal affairs of countries.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by low preference guy View Post
    The intent actually was that the Fed would run national defense, coin money, and keep trade regular among states. It was not meant to "watch the states' movement", just like the United Nations shouldn't interfere in the internal affairs of countries.
    Really? Then what is this language doing in Article IV, Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
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  11. #10

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    At the time of signing all of the states (by their representatives) agreed with the document. And most, if not all had similar provisions included in their State constitutions.

    I don't see a problem, unless you are looking for a loophole to deny rights.
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