The Bill of Rights

The First 10 Amendments to the Constitution and Their Purpose

Protections Afforded Fundamental Rights and Freedoms

Protections Against Arbitrary Military Action

Protection Against Arbitrary Police and Court Action

Protections of States' Rights and Unnamed Rights of the People

The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, but its application was broadened significantly by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1868. A key phrase in the 14th Amendment -- "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law" -- has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as forbidding the states from violating most of the rights and freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights.