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Presentation on theme: "THE LIVING CONSTITUTION"— Presentation transcript:

The oldest written Constitution in the world, also one of the shortest. Only has 4,543 words. Each article is very specific Constitutions. Americans revere the Constitution—nine of ten adults are proud of it—even when they do not know what is in it.

2 THE CONSTITUTION The Constitution is one of the major structural factors that has influenced the evolution of American government. Only 27 formal amendments have been added in more than 200 years. Students should be able to describe the basic structure of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

3 The Final Document Popular sovereignty A republican government
A limited government Separation of powers A federal system where both the national and the state governments each had their own sphere of influence © 2004 Michael Ventura/Folio

4 Limited government The Constitution lists specific powers of the national government (Article I, Section 8) and specifically denies others (Article I, Section 9). The Bill of Rights imposes restraints on the national government by protecting fundamental rights of citizens.

5 FEDERALISM Division of Powers Relatively strong central government.
Supremacy clause (Article VI, Section 2) Important powers assigned to the national government Elastic clause (Article I, Section 8) States remain important

6 Checks on majority rule
The people rule only indirectly Bicameral legislature, with varying terms of office and different constituencies Indirect election of the President and Senate (changed by Amendment XVII) Presidential appointment of judges and confirmation by the Senate Cumbersome and difficult amendment process

7 Separation of powers & checks and balances
During the American Revolution, American leaders worried primarily about the misrule of executives and judges. Those who drafted the Constitution were more afraid of the danger of legislative tyranny. The framers turned to the idea of mixed or balanced government, which had been popularized by the French philosopher Montesquieu.

8 Separation of powers & checks and balances
Executive, legislative, and judicial powers in different branches (separation of powers). No branch can control all powers or dominate the other branches. Legislative, executive, and judicial powers check one another and share power (checks and balances).

9 Separation of Powers & Checks and balances


A single executive Indirect election by an electoral college The House of Representatives would choose a president if no one received a majority of electoral votes.

Two U.S. Presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached. Nixon resigned before impeachment.

13 Modifications of Checks and Balances
The rise of national political parties Expansion of the electorate and the move toward more direct democracy Establishment of agencies deliberately designed to exercise legislative, executive, and judicial functions Changes in technology The growth of presidential power When parties are the same across the branches it can bridge the separation of powers a bit. Divided government leads to more separation—the branches are less trusting of each other. As the nation has aged, more people have been allowed to vote—more and more the people are checking the national government as well. New technologies, new media have allowed people more access to government to check it.

14 Modifications of Checks and Balances
Direct Primary Election in which voters choose party nominees Initiative Procedure whereby a certain number of voters may, by petition, propose a law or constitutional amendment and have it submitted to the voters Referendum Procedure for submitting to popular vote measures passed by the legislature or proposed amendments to a state constitution Recall Procedure for submitting to popular vote the removal of officers from office before the end of their term

15 Judicial Review and the “Guardians of the Constitution”
Judicial Review: the power to strike down a law or a government regulation that judges believe conflicts with the Constitution. Origins of Judicial Review Federalists supported judicial review Marbury v.Madison (1803) Judiciary becomes the guardian Judicial review: The judiciary did not claim this power until years after the Constitution had been adopted. The document itself does not assign the power of interpreting its meaning, but Federalists generally supported a strong role for the courts and favored judicial review. In 1803, the Supreme Court gave itself judicial review in a landmark decision. Adams and the Federalists “packed” the judiciary which angered Jefferson as he took office. Marbury never received his commission and sued. The Judiciary Act of 1789 had given the Supreme Court the power to direct other officials to perform a duty. Marshall ruled that the Act was unconstitutional because Congress could not give power to another branch. Thus Marbury didn’t get his judgeship—which Jefferson wanted—but the Court got the power to say something is unconstitutional, which Jefferson had to agree with or he had to let Marbury have his position.

16 Informal Change: The Unwritten Constitution
LO 3.1 Over the years, the written Constitution has been filled out in numerous ways. Congressional elaboration is legislation that gives further meaning to the Constitution based on sometimes vague constitutional authority, such as the necessary and proper clause. When Congress uses impeachment, it is elaborating as the Constitution is very unclear. Presidents use executive orders, which carry the full force of law but do not require congressional approval. They also have used executive privilege, right to confidentiality, and impoundment (president takes funds). Judiciary establishes judicial review which has had far-reaching consequences. Political Parties have informally shaped what government does, i.e. reduced the importance of the electoral college. Many customs have developed in U.S. government that are not mentioned in the Constitution, i.e. the President’s Cabinet and other advisory groups. Senatorial courtesy is a custom in which the President seeks support from senators prior to a confirmation of an appointment to a government position. Informal Change: The Unwritten Constitution Congressional Elaboration Presidential Practices Executive Orders Executive Agreements Executive Privilege Right to confidentiality Impoundment Judicial Interpretation Political Parties Customs Advisors to the President Senatorial courtesy Back to learning objectives 16

17 Changing the Letter of the Constitution
LO 3.1 Changing the Letter of the Constitution Two methods of proposing amendments. One is two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by national constitutional convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. Two methods of ratifying amendments. One is three-fourths of legislatures agreeing or three fourths of states having ratifying conventions. All 27 amendments traveled from the first method of proposing to the first method of ratification except one, the 21st amendment which was ratified by conventions. Approaches Originalist - envisions the document as having a fixed meaning that might be determined by a strict reading of the text or the framers’ intent Adaptive - used to interpret the Constitution understanding the document to be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of the times Students should know the methods for Proposing and for Ratifying Amendments Back to learning objectives 17

18 The foundations for a national free enterprise economy
Concern that a system “too much upon the democratic order” would threaten private property Constitutional protections for property rights Article IV, Section 1 Article VI, Section 1 Article IV, Section 2 Constitutional provisions aiding the emergence of a national free enterprise economy Article 1, Sections 8-10

19 The Changing Constitution, Democracy, and American Politics
The Constitution is the basic rule book for the game of American politics. Constitutional rules Apportion power and responsibility among governmental branches Define the fundamental nature of relationships between governmental institutions Specify how individuals are to be selected for office Tell how the rules themselves may be changed


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