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The United States Constitution

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1 The United States Constitution

2 What is a constitution? Constitution: legal framework for a government
In other words: How it is organized. Questions that constitutions answer: What are the purposes of government? What is the organization of government? What parts does it have? What do they each do? How does the government make laws? How are people selected to serve in government? Who is a citizen? What rights do citizens have?

3 Historical Precedents
Magna Carta (1215) jury trial private property limits on taxation religious freedoms The Petition of Right (1628) taxes can be levied only by Parliament habeus corpus Freedom from martial law during times of peace English Bill of Rights (1688) Freedom of speech Right to elect parliament Right for Protestants to bear arms Freedom from standing armies during times of peace. Mayflower Compact (1620) Pilgrim’s social contract

4 What is a constitutional government?
Limits on the powers of government Even governmental leaders must follow the higher law.

5 Before the Constitution
Confederation: loose union (states have the power, not a central government) Articles of Confederation (1781) Fear of too much central power because of Britain Weaknesses: Congress could not pass taxes Congress could not force states to obey its laws Congress could not regulate or manage trade Laws needed to the approval of 9 of the 13 states All 13 states had to agree to changes in the Articles There was no executive branch There was no judicial branch Debt: major, crippling, war debt

6 Constitutional Convention
Held in Philadelphia 1787 55 men appointed to represent 12 states (Rhode Island did not send delegates) George Washington was selected to be President of the Convention Realized strengthening the articles of confederation was not enough Each state had one vote 7 out of 12 had to approve Public would not be told The Articles had to be replaced by a new plan of government

7 Major Compromises Virginia Plan New Jersey Plan The Great Compromise
Three-fifths compromise Slave Trade Export taxes Electoral College


9 Ratifying the Constitution
9 out of 13 needed to ratify Anti-Federalists: opposed the Constitution, wanted a Bill of Rights Federalists: supported ratification, won opposition with Federalist Papers

10 Preamble: Purposes Article 2: Executive Article 1: Legislative Article 3: Judicial Article 4: Federalism Article 5: Amending Article 6: Supremacy Clause Article 7: Ratification

11 Basic Principles: Popular Sovereignty Federalism Separation of Powers
Checks and Balances Judicial Review Bill of Rights


13 Amendments

14 Bill of Rights Freedom of: Religion, Press, Speech, Petition, and Assembly State militias and right to bear arms Bans quartering soldiers Unreasonable search & seizure self-incrimination; double-jeopardy; compensation for takings Speedy and public trial; right to a lawyer; Trial by Jury Cruel and Unusual Punishment Peoples rights are not limited to the previous rights Powers of the states

15 Other Amendment Highlights:
13: abolishes slavery (1865) 14: Citizenship rights; equal-protection (1868) 15: Race no bar to vote (1870) 16: income tax (1913) 17: direct election of senators (1913) 18: prohibition (1919) 19: women’s right to vote (1920) 21: repeals prohibition (1933) 22: term limits (1951) 25: presidential succession (1967) 26: voting age to 18 (1971)

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