Bill of Rights
A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the good people of Virginia in the
exercise of their sovereign powers, which rights do pertain to them and their
posterity, as the basis and foundation of government.
The bill of rights was adopted by the Convention of 1776 and, much like other state bills of rights enacted in the Revolutionary era and subsequent years, was intended to serve a variety of purposes. As Edmund Randolph later explained, in his review of the work of the 1776 Convention: “In the formation of this bill of rights two objects were contemplated: one, that the legislature should not in their acts violate any of those “canons”; the other, that in all the revolutions of time, of human opinion, and of government, a perpetual standard should be erected, around which the people might rally, and by a notorious record be forever admonished to be watchful, firm, and virtuous.”1
In many respects, the current bill of rights bears a strong resemblance to the original document; however, several sections have undergone important changes through the years. These changes have taken three forms. First, several sections were added at one point and later eliminated. For instance, the 1870 Constitution added provisions forbidding secession, recognizing federal supremacy, abolishing slavery, and guaranteeing equal civil and political rights to all citizens. However, these provisions were all eliminated in the 1902 Constitution.
Second, several sections were added through the years and have been retained in the current Constitution. This includes section 17 of the current bill of rights, which first appeared in the 1870 Constitution and ensures that the enumeration of certain rights shall not be interpreted as containing a complete list of the rights to which individuals are entitled. In addition, section 8-A was ratified by the voters in 1996 and protects the rights of victims of crime.