Plaque spreads a legal fallacy

The “Bill of Rights”? You would think NIU’s Law School would know better.

A donated plaque containing the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution was recently erected outside Swen Parson. But using the misnomer “Bill of Rights,” a name not applied to the amendments until well into this century, contradicts the appreciation of the law the school should promote.

If anything should be called a “bill of rights” it is the Constitution itself. The right to enter into and fulfill contracts, ex post facto law and bill of attainder prohibitions, among many others rights, are all contained in the original Constitution.

In fact, the 10 amendments were only possible because the original document empowered legislators to add amendments to it.

Of course, these amendments are colloquially, if imprecisely, known as the “Bill of Rights.” Where is the harm?

The harm is that it continues the popular misconception that only the Constitutional amendments are worth knowing. And there is little that separates that nonsense from the politically-skewed idea that the Constitution was an elitist document that had to be repeatedly “fixed” as time went by.

Just as the Physics Department would question a plaque depicting the “orbiting balls” atomic model, the Law School should be embarrassed to display this piece of misinformation.