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Bill of rights

Bill Of Rights


A bill of rights is a statement of certain rights which, under a society's laws, citizens and/or residents either have, want to have, or ought to have.

In some jurisdictions, the bill of rights is entrenched in the constitution or Basic Law of that nation-state. When embedded in the constitution, it can prescribe the limits of power the government has to intervene in the lives of its citizens. Usually such entrenched bills of rights have codicils that define the extent of limitation of rights in times of war or civil unrest. The rights outlined in a constitution are protected from being changed as other acts cannot contradict or contravene the provisions of an entrenched bill of rights.

A Bill of Rights may be unentrenched. This means it exists as a separate legal instrument of parliament. An unentrenched bill of rights may be weakened by other acts passed by the same parliament. If those other Acts contradict what the bill of rights sets out to protect then this can happen as the parliament making the Acts has the power to do so. A vote of the people is not required to alter the bill of rights. An unentrenched bill of rights therefore does not necessarily permanently protect rights.

A statutory bill of rights is one that exists as a separate Act of parliament. As such it can be amended or repealed by the parliament that created it. It is therefore not as permanent as a constitutional bill of rights. A bill of rights that is written into the constitution of a country is a constitutional bill of rights. As such there is democratic protection of the bill of rights as the constitution containing the bill of rights cannot be changed unless it is with the approval of the voting public in that country. Rights being protected are more likely to be protected permanently.

In other jurisdictions, the definition of rights may be statutory. (In other words, it may be repealed just like any other law and does not necessarily hold greater weight than other laws). Not all jurisdictions enforce the protection of the rights articulated in their bill of rights.

A 'bill of rights' may also be an aspirational statement of the rights that citizens ought to have even though the defining body does not have the ability to enforce the protection of those rights. The United Nations's (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights is currently an example, though this may be perceived as a controversial example depending on one's opinion of the UN's current ability to effectively enforce its decision.

Infringement of rights protected by a bill of rights (such as by repeal of statutory protections or by statutory infringement of constitutionally protected rights) may cause civil unrest, civil disobedience or even revolution. A common concern of libertarians is the gradual erosion of rights, especially those articulated in bills of rights. This concern is heightened during times of war or crises when certain rights may be perceived by some as a luxury compared to security concerns.

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Download History Project on Bill of rights (Doc Word File)
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Posted by: Prateek on June 10, 2014

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