[t]hat the new constitution proposed for the government of the United States be bottomed upon a declaration or bill of rights, clearly and precisely stating the principles upon which this social compact is founded.”
Richard Henry Lee to Edmund Randolph, October 16, 1787
Bill of Rights Education
The Institute of Bill of Rights Law is committed to educating the broader public about the Bill of Rights. All of the Institute’s programs are free and open to the public, and attract a national audience as well as many members of the local community.
In 2010, the Student Division created Constitutional Conversations, an educational community out-reach program in cooperation with the Williamsburg Library and Colonial Williamsburg (see Constitutional Conversations.com).
Before and During Ratification of the Constitution:
All of these questions find answers in James Madison’s Notes of Debates. The Virginia statesman, often called the “father” of the Constitution, took upon himself the painstaking duty of recording the debates in the Constitutional Convention. “I chose a seat in front of the presiding member [George Washington],” he said, and “was not absent a single day.” Published after his death, they are the sine qua non of informed Constitutional reflection.
The most rigorous series of newspaper articles, eighty-five in all, was written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. It was called The Federalist. Popularly known today as The Federalist Papers, this work continues to stand tall as a masterpiece of political philosophy.
The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution
The Documentary History is the preeminent collection of articles, letters, speeches, and other documentary records surrounding the ratification of the Constitution.
After Ratification of the Constitution:
The U.S. Supreme Court
Need we say more?
Findlaw’s Cases and Codes
Findlaw is a sizable database of free cases, codes, and other legal documents.
Findlaw’s Constitutional Law Center
This is Findlaw’s free searchable database of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, with cases from 1893-present.
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
The Thomas Jefferson Center is an organization devoted to the defense of free expression.
The Jurist is a good source for daily legal news and real-time legal research. It claims to be “world's only law school-based comprehensive legal news and research service.”
The Supreme Court Collection of the Legal Information Institute
The LII is Cornell University’s pioneering effort to establish free access to legal information.