Defending his record on gun control at tonight’s debate, Chris Christie said the “Second amendment was put second for a reason.” There are a lot of reasons why conservatives may not actually want that to be true—it would, for instance, make the Tenth Amendment, the “States rights amendment,” the least important—but is it true?
Nope! Slate’s Brian Palmer has a useful explainer about how the amendments got their order:
The Bill of Rights has an order, but it has nothing to do with the relative importance of the rights. James Madison, who whittled down the long list of amendments proposed during constitutional ratification, argued that all changes to the Constitution should be incorporated into the text itself rather than tacked on the end. Connecticut’s Roger Sherman disagreed and won the argument, giving us the numbered list of 10 amendments we have today. The order of that list, however, still reflects Madison’s view: They come in the same order as the sections of the Constitution that they would have modified.