The end of the major world wars forced nations to go back to their drawing boards and restructure their institutions to ensure they had the power to protect their citizens and boundaries. The end of these wars marked the beginning of wider democratic spaces not only internationally but also within the boundaries of a country. The United States is believed to be advanced in terms of having a transparent, accountable, fair, and robust democratic system. Bills of rights are established by nations to ensure their citizens enjoy their freedoms and rights without unwarranted violation by the state, other citizens, or external attackers (Dugard, 2015). This paper compares the Bill of Rights found in the United States Constitution to the Bill of Rights found in the Republic of South Africa’s Constitution.
A bill of rights refers to a provision in the constitution of a country that dictates what its people are supposed to do, have a right and the freedom to do, and cannot be denied by the state or other individuals without the necessary and legitimate permission. The constitutions of countries form the background of the bill of rights since they are summaries of the provisions that explain the freedoms and rights of citizens.
The United States Bill of Rights refers to the amendments to its constitution. These amendments were made as a result of the 1787-1788 battle over ratification of the Constitution (Schoultz, 2014). This bill was crafted to address the concerns of the Anti-Federalists and add some safeguards of democracy. The main objectives of the Bill of Rights of the United States include guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, limiting the government’s power in judicial processes, and giving power to the people or state in cases where it has not been delegated to Congress. The First Amendment declared that Congress had no powers to publish a law that curtails the freedom of worship, speech, assembly, and petition the state for redress. This amendment opened the democratic space and gave civilians more power to express their anger over unjustifiable state actions. The other amendments are based on the need to respect the rights and freedoms of Americans by both the state and individuals. These rights restrict the government’s power over the freedom of individuals and ensure the people have the power to revoke parts of the Constitution that limit their freedoms or rights without proper justification (Schoultz, 2014).
The Bill of Rights of the Republic of South Africa is similar to that of the United States of America. However, some minor provisions make these two bills different. For instance, the South African Bill of Rights allows fair discrimination which is not contained in the United States. In addition, the South African version allows total freedom of worship regardless of the activities involved while that of America limits the freedom of worship to reasonable practices and beliefs. The American version should not be revised to allow total freedom of worship since this will lead to the emergence of evil cults. In addition, South Africans who are aged 18 years and above are free and eligible to vote but not all Americans are allowed to vote. This should be changed to enable more Americans to participate in voting. The South African Bill of Rights gives exclusive freedom for its citizens to engage in various activities; however, the lack of clear guidelines that state the limits of these freedoms makes the Constitution of this country susceptible to court challenges (Dugard, 2015). America does not need to copy all the provisions in the South African Bill of Rights but just do some minor amendments to ensure the freedoms and rights have clear limits.
Dugard, J. (2015). Human rights and the South African legal order. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Schoultz, L. (2014). Human Rights and United States Policy toward Latin America. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.