Happy Bill of Rights Day

Two hundred and twenty-four years ago the Bill of Rights was ratified on this day.  The Bill of Rights is made up of those first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, granting things like freedom of speech, jury trial, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and many other useful rights.  These rights have been around awhile now and they may seem intuitive today, but the history of the Bill of Rights was anything but straightforward. Ironically the Bill of Rights was never actually a “Bill” in Congress.  It got called that because England had passed a “Bill of Rights” a hundred years earlier.  Some felt these rights should have been included in the Constitution.  Others did not think we needed this Bill of Rights at all because states would have their own bill of rights.  Originally there were seventeen amendments, but the Senate rejected some and combined others.  Furthermore, some states did not accept the Bill of Rights right away.  Massachusetts did not get around to ratifying the Bill of Rights until 1939 (two years before President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15 to be “Bill of Rights Day”). Today we celebrate the Bill of Rights, but every day […] Read More

Drafting the US Constitution

Fall cleaning?  While you may be preparing for the holidays with rearranging and cleaning out, framers of the US Constitution did the same thing back in 1787 as they created the document that would be become the foundation of our republic.  You might be surprised at some of the things left out of the US Constitution and what got rearranged. The words “God” and “democracy” were not used in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  Furthermore, the original Constitution did not provide for universal public education or include workers’ rights. Also, many of the founding fathers did not see a need for the Bill of Rights, as the states had their own bill of rights.  Still, the Bill of Rights was drafted, originally with 17 Amendments.  The House passed all 17, but the Senate rejected some, combined, others, and re-organized the list.  The First Amendment was not originally first —giving us freedom of speech and religion, and the right to assemble and petition the government—it was third. So as you prioritize what to keep and what to throw out, remember that the even the founding fathers of this country had to go through a bit of housekeeping when it […] Read More

“People”

Government power and legitimacy of the United States is framed within “People.”  “We the People” is the opening phrase of the US Constitution, and “to the people” is the last phrase of the Tenth Amendment (counting the Bill of Rights as part of the Constitution).  Similarly, the practice of law is about People. September 27th marks my seventh year as a practicing attorney.  It is not as easy as it looks.  The complexities of the law and the changes to the law make a lawyer’s job challenging, and fun for me (though not everyone shares my definition of fun).  I am pleased with the process our legal system provides and I enjoy having the education and knowledge of that system to help people.   Read More

Constitution Trivia: Where Was Thomas Jefferson?

Where was Thomas Jefferson when the US Constitution was signed?  George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin were all there on September 17, 1787, but Jefferson was in France on a diplomatic mission.   Read More

Happy Birthday to the US Constitution

September 17, 1787 members of the Constitutional Convention signed their names to a document that has been the supreme law of our land for over two centuries:  the Constitution of the United States of America.  Among its seven articles and twenty-seven amendments it gives us the three branches of government and our Bill of Rights.  The US Constitution is the first thing Florida attorneys swear to in the Florida Bar Oath.  Happy Birthday to our Constitution! Read More

Preamble to the Constitution

“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.” Happy Birthday USA! Read More