Bill of Rights, Fourteenth Amendment and The Doctrine of Selective Incorporation: A T

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Bill of Rights, Fourteenth Amendment and The Doctrine of Selective Incorporation: A Thumbnail.


The Bill of Rights as we all know is the collective title to the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution . It was written by the tallest 5' 4" man ever to live; James Madison . These ten amendments were offered in order to assuage concerns of convention delegates that the federal government they were creating would be too powerful. The Bill of Rights limits federal power and secures certain rights to the people or states. The process of ratification was completed in 1791.


The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified July 9, 1868. The amendment has three major features. The first is the extension of citizenship to people born or naturalized in the United States including freed slaves. The second feature is the Due Process Clause which iterates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Both of these prohibit the depriving people of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The third is the Equal Protection Clause which requires states to apply their laws equally to all.


The Doctrine of Selective Incorporation is the process through which individual elements of the Bill of Rights are made applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In simplest terms, the Bill of Rights had been held to apply only to intrusions upon one's liberties by the Federal Government. The doctrine is called selective because it has been done piecemeal as specific rights become a matter in controversy rather than simply incorporating them all in whole. For example, it was only recently that the Second Amendment was incorporated by the Supreme Court. So what rights may be incorporated? Fundamental rights. More on that issue later.


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