Bill of Rights

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which were proposed and approved by the First Congress. They offer specific guarantees of liberty to citizens and restrictions on the powers of government. Originally, the Bill of Rights was limited only to the federal government. Since the adoption of the 14th Amendment, however, the courts have gradually extended these rights and restrictions so that the states must recognize them as well.

By Donald Ritchie, Our Constitution (Oxford University Press)