Excerpt from The Federalist
Written by David Azerrad
Our cherished Bill of Rights, which turned 225 years old this month, is one of the great oddities of American constitutional history. What began as a mere afterthought to the Constitution ended up saving the Constitution from its Anti-Federalist critics, and today looms larger in the American mind than the Constitution itself.
Until the twentieth century, the Supreme Court rarely invoked it. Its rise to prominence since then is largely due to a series of landmark cases in which it was applied, contrary to the intent of its framers, to the state governments. In a curious twist of history, a bill of rights designed to placate Anti-Federalist opposition to the Constitution in the states has become one of the great checks on state power. It’s quite a story.
Were it not for James Madison, who opposed the Bill of Rights before supporting it, we would probably have neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights. By rechanneling public opposition to the Constitution into acceptance for a Bill of Rights, he staved off the Anti-Federalist attempts to rewrite the Constitution. Madison is therefore rightly viewed as both the father of Constitution and the father of the Bill of Rights.