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The Bill of Rights is a list of rights, or Amendments, belonging to the people of the United Sates. Now, this question was asked centuries ago at the time of its proposal: Does enumerating rights create a supposition that all rights not enumerated are forfeited? To answer this debatable inquiry, we must examine both the Antifederalist and Federalist arguments.
The Antifederalists were actually the first to propose including a Bill of rights to the Constitution. They asserted that basic, vital rights needed to be specifically enumerated, or listed, for the protection of the individual’s liberty. These rights (i.e. freedom of religion and freedom of speech), after all, should be clearly retained by the people. Thus, if their freedom was ever threatened, they could rely on the Bill of Rights, instead of the ambiguous Constitution, to guide them. To the Antifederalists, firmly preserving the rights of the people was of the utmost importance. In regards to the actual enumeration, I believe that they thought only the basic rights were necessary and that people would understand that any other rights, if not all of them, were preserved by the very nature of the Constitution.
Federalists, on the contrary, had a different opinion regarding the Bill of Rights. They maintained that the Bill of Rights was not only unnecessary, but even ridiculous to some. One Federalist claimed that the very idea never even crossed many of the attendees’ minds till the closing of the convention. Ultimately, Federalists felt that since the Constitution was made by the people, for the people, it was unnecessary to specifically list rights that were already held in the Constitution. The very nature of the Constitution made the people themselves masters of their rights, so there was simply no need for a document to affirm them. Some Federalists even considered the Bill of Rights to be dangerous since it could be left to false interpretation or that the rights not listed would be considered forfeit.
To conclude, however, the Bill of Rights lists only what was considered by both parties to be of vital importance. And so as to clear away any confusion, a final amendment was added that stated that any right not enumerated would still belong to the people, unless removed by them. Therefore, this compromise satisfied both parties and proved that enumerating rights does NOT create a supposition, or theory, that all rights not enumerated are forfeited. It is simply a security for the freedom and peace of not only individuals, but the whole public as well. The people will always have their right to life and liberty. The Bill of Rights only serves as a protection from the potential tyranny of the government.
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