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Basic Principles of the U.S. Constitution

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1 Basic Principles of the U.S. Constitution
School House Rock! Basic Principles of the U.S. Constitution

2 6 Basic Principles of the Constitution
Popular Sovereignty Limited Government Separation of Powers Checks & Balances Federalism Individual Rights These principles reflect the framers’ desire to establish a national government that serves the people, prevents the concentration & abuse of power, and respects the rights of the states.

3 Popular Sovereignty Popular sovereignty – government’s authority to rule comes from the people. Sovereignty – power or authority. This principle can be found throughout the Constitution. It’s expressed in the opening phrase of the Constitution “We the people…” It is also found in the articles of the Constitution: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” – Article IV, Section 4

4 Limited Government Limited Government – A system in which government powers are carefully spelled out to prevent government from becoming too powerful. The Constitution establishes limited government: Article I Section 9 lists the powers that the national government does not have. The Bill of Rights limits our government by giving citizens certain rights. Click for a video

5 Separation of Powers Separation of Powers – the distribution of political power among the branches of government, giving each branch a particular job. This idea came from what Enlightenment thinker? Separation of powers makes sure that no one branch has too much power. The writers of the Constitution wanted a strong national government, but it wanted to prevent the abuse of power.

6 Checks and Balances Checks & Balances – a system in which the powers of government are balanced among different branches so that each branch can limit the power of the other branches. Examples of Checks: The power of commander in chief The power to declare a law unconstitutional (Judicial Review) The power to impeach federal judges & Supreme Court Justices The power to approve all treaties with foreign countries The power to veto bills The power to declare war The power to appoint federal judges and Supreme Court justices The power to impeach the President

Federalism – a system of government in which the powers to rule is divided among the national, state, and local levels of government In creating a federal system of government, the Constitution also established 3 types of powers: delegated, reserved and concurrent.

8 Delegated powers Delegated powers – those powers granted to the national government. Ex: Regulating immigration, making treaties, declaring war Delegated powers may be either enumerated or implied in the Constitution. Delegated powers are found in articles of the Constitution: The Congress shall have Power…To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes. -- Article I, Section 8, Clause 3

9 Reserved Powers Reserved powers – are those powers kept by the states.
Ex: Marriage/divorce laws, driver’s licenses, public schools Amendment 10 reserves for the states any powers that are not given to the federal government The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, not prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively… Amendment 10

10 Concurrent Powers Concurrent powers – are those that are shared by the federal and state governments. Ex: Taxes and Law Enforcement The amendment process is an example of concurrent powers. The Congress … shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or on the Application of the Legislatures of 2/3’s of the several states… --Article 10

11 Independent Judiciary
Framers’ created an independent judiciary to protect against abuses of the system by self-interested parties Article III which establishes the Supreme Court and other federal courts, the term limit for justices, and compensation Life sentence and secure salary to prevent public pressure

12 Individual Rights Anti-Federalists felt the Constitution didn’t protect individual rights, thus the Bill of Rights was added Examples: 1st Amendment Trial by Jury (III, 2) Treason (III, 3)

13 Rule of Law No one is above the law Examples
No states can discriminate against residents of another state (Article IV, Section 2) Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Section 2)

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