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Perspectives on Comparative Federalism

The American Experience in the Pre-incorporation Era

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2018
Keywords 14th amendment, anti-federalists, Barron v. Baltimore (1833), Board of Education and other Cases (1954), Civil Rights Cases (1883), Bill of Rights, Brown v. Constitutional Convention (1787), Federalists, Holmes v. Jennsion (1840), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), The Federalist (1787-1788)
Authors Kenneth R. Stevens
AbstractAuthor's information

    Today the Bill of Rights is understood to limit not only the federal government but also the power of the states to infringe on the civil liberties of citizens. This was not always the case. In the early days of the republic, most Americans feared federal authority far more than the states. This remained the case until passage of the 14th amendment to the Constitution followed by a series of interpretations over the years by the Supreme Court that broadened its scope. Some delegates at the convention of 1787 and other critics during ratification complained that the Constitution did not include a bill of rights, but others objected that the people needed such protections from government power. It became clear, however, that ratification could not be attained without inclusion of a Bill of Rights, which were adopted as amendments in 1791. In 1833, the Supreme Court ruled, in Barron v. Baltimore, that the provisions of the Bill of Rights imposed restrictions only on the federal government and not on the states. Passage of the 14th amendment in 1868 made the Bill of Rights restrictions on the states. Over the years, federal courts increasingly broadened the authority of the Bill of Rights as limitations on the states.


Kenneth R. Stevens
Professor, AddRan College of Liberal Arts, Texas Christian University. This volume (The EU Bill of Rights’ Diagonal Application to Member States. Ed. Csongor István Nagy) was published as part of the research project of the HAS-Szeged Federal Markets ‘Momentum’ Research Group.
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