Bill Of Rights, in English constitutional law, properly, the act of parliament 1 William and Mary (sess. 2, c. ii.), by which certain claims contained in the declaration of rights were enacted as fundamental principles of political liberty. The declaration had been delivered at the time the crown was tendered to the prince and princess of Orange, Feb. 13, 1689. It recited the principal grievances which the nation had suffered under the preceding reign, viz.: the assumption as a royal prerogative to grant a dispensation from penal acts of parliament; the establishment of a new tribunal to determine ecclesiastical questions; levying taxes without consent of parliament; maintaining a standing army in time of peace; interfering with the administration of justice and the freedom of elections; exacting excessive bail from prisoners; inflicting barbarous and unusual punishments; and treating as criminal petitions for a redress of wrongs - all of which acts were declared to be illegal. It then asserted the right of subjects to petition; the right of parliament to freedom of debate; the right of electors to choose representatives freely; and various other privileges.
These were reiterated in the act of parliament above referred to, with some additional stringency, as in respect to the dispensing power, which by the declaration had been condemned, as exercised by James, as unlawful, but by the act was absolutely and for ever taken away. These rights were again asserted, with some additions, in the act of settlement, by which the crown was limited to the Hanover family (12 and 13 William III., c. ii.). Similar provisions were appended to the constitution of the United States, as amendments thereto. They are chiefly declaratory of the freedom of speech and of the press; of the right of citizens peaceably to assemble and petition government for the redress of grievances; of the right of trial hy jury; that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation; that no law shall be passed by congress for the establishment of any religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. In the constitutions or laws of several states of the American Union is to be found a similar recital of rights, usually including the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.