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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 122960 Find in a Library
Title: Original Purpose of the Bill of Rights: James Madison and the Founders' Search for a Workable Balance Between Federal and State Power
Journal: American Criminal Law Review  Volume:26  Issue:4  Dated:(Spring 1989)  Pages:1261-1321
Author(s): A E Wilmarth Jr
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 61
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis of the historical background of the Bill of Rights focuses on the intentions of the framers of the Constitution with respect to the relative powers of the Federal and State governments.
Abstract: The framers sought to establish a strong Federal government that would provide for the national defense, coordinate national diplomacy and commercial policy, and prevent infringements of individual rights by factions within States. However, Madison and most of the other framers also intended to preserve a substantial degree of State autonomy so that the states could prevent the abuse of Federal power. In particular, Madison believed that the States could use several methods to resist Federal encroachments. However, the Antifederalists did not accept the Federalists assurances of continued State autonomy. Thus, Madison sponsored the Bill of Rights both to persuade moderate Antifederalists to accept the Constitution and to fulfill his own campaign pledge. However, the final Bill of Rights failed to clearly distinguish between State and Federal powers. Over the years, the states have steadily lost power with respect to the Federal government. However, interest is growing in reconsidering the structure of federalism that was originally intended and the current balance of power in the Federal structure. 285 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Bill of Rights
Index Term(s): Federal government; Intergovernmental relations; State government
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