Bill of Rights Incorporation

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The Incorporation of The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights has generally been regarded as an essential protection for the people from the undue oppressions of their government. The Bill of Rights originally only applied to the federal government, not state governments. The Bill of Rights were gradually made suitable to state governments through the process of incorporation. The “incorporation of the Bill of Rights” is the legal technique that has allowed the gradual application of the Bill of Rights to protect individuals from the state as well as the federal government. Generally speaking, the U.S. is devised under the principle of federalism, a system that provides equal responsibility through the balancing of power. Similarly, the U.S. follows a system of “cooperative federalism,” spotlighting the supremacy of federal authority over that of state authority. This problem of the unequal implementation of the law and the significance of the balance of power emphasizes the importance of the incorporation of the Bill of Rights; for the court understood people have more interaction with their state governments and that such balance of authority is necessary to ensure rights protections for the people in those states.

When the original 1787 Constitution went into effect, the Bill of Rights had only been intended to apply to the federal government, and not to the state governments. For that reason, protective rights were not federally imposed at the state level. Eventually, the Supreme Court addressed this issue in Barron v. The Mayor and City of Baltimore, wherein Barron requested “just compensation” under the Takings Clause of the V Amendment. At this time, the court’s understanding of the Takings Clause was coupled with the understanding the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government and not to the usurpations of the state. Consequently, the court dismissed the case on grounds for insufficient jurisdiction over a state issue regarding a...
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