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Bill of Rights

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Bill of Rights

In the Revolutionary era, a bill of rights was any statement of principles, appended to a constitution, which set apart fundamental liberties that could never be violated by law or executive action. Influenced by the British Parliament's Bill of Rights (1689), George Mason authored America's first such document, Virginia's Declaration of Rights, adopted with that state's constitution on 12 June 1776. By 1784, seven states had attached similar documents to their constitutions, and the rest had written guarantees of basic freedoms into the text of their constitutions.
Representative James Madison narrowed 210 constitutional amendments suggested by the states to twelve, which Congress submitted to the legislatures on 25 September 1789. Ten were ratified by 15 December 1791 and became known as the federal Bill of Rights. Barron v. Baltimore exempted state courts from the US Bill of Rights' provisions. Barron was first selectively overturned by Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad v. Chicago. The Court later made all the Bill of Rights obligatory upon state judges in a series of separate rulings following Gitlow v. New York, most of which were issued under Earl Warren's chief justiceship. Public Law 284 extended the Bill of Rights to Reservation courts. (See First  through Tenth amendments)