The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution
During the debates on the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a 'bill of rights' that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered. The Bill of Rights is still a vital and powerful force in American government, shaping our laws and serving as a check on the exercise of government power.