2 Constitutional Democracy: John Locke Background: Locke was widely read by American colonists and his ideas influenced many writings of the 18th century, mainly the Declaration of Independence
3 Second Treatise, of Civil Govt. (J. Locke) Perfect freedom is the state of nature for menIn the natural state equality existsEquality of advantagesNo subordinationThe Law of NatureMen are rational beingsNo liberty to destroy himselfNo liberty to destroy othersBeing equal, no right to harm another’s life, health, liberty, or possessionsMust preserve himselfOnly in the name of justice can one take or impair the life of others
4 Second Treatise, of Civil Govt. (J. Locke) In the Law of NatureThe law of nature is in the hands of every manPunishment must be comparable to the crime committedWhy leave the state of nature to join a society?Life is unsafe, insecure, and dangerousIrregular exercise of powerGreatest end is to preserve propertyTo join a society:Build laws based on common consent of right and wrongNeutral judges to impart the established laws
5 Second Treatise, of Civil Govt. (J. Locke) Government must: Be based on the promulgation of established laws and apply them equally to everyoneHave as its end, the good of the peopleNot raise taxes without the consent of the people/their representativesLegislature cannot transfer the power to make laws to anybody elsePeople can dissolve a government:If unauthorized people are creating lawsIf force is used without a right
6 Framing the Constitution: Elitist or Democratic Process: John P. Roche The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in ActionThe Founding Fathers were superb democratic politiciansThey were political men working within a democratic frameworkThe Philadelphia Convention was a nationalist reform caucusIt endorsed a stronger centralized governmentTheir work was done within the limits of consensus
7 The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action (J. Roche) The Constitution is a practical political documentConstitutionalists had tremendous influence over public opinionThe project would have failed without the support of New YorkGeorgians supported a stronger central government that would provide military protection for themNew Jersey and Connecticut wanted to free themselves from the economic control of New YorkVirginia wanted more power in the new political system
8 The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action (J. Roche) Some supported the Constitution simply because the wrong people were against itOthers supported the Constitution so the U.S. could assume its rightful place in the international arenaDelegates had structural differences, not ideologicalAssets of Constitutionalists:Energy and talent of its leaders, such as George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas JeffersonActing fast by keeping opposition always on the defensive
9 The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action (J. Roche) Agreement to secrecyVirginia PlanDrafted by James MadisonProposed to make amendments with approval of 9 statesPromoted a unitary national governmentLower House of Congress to be elected by people with membership based on populationUpper House of Congress to be chosen by the LowerBoth chambers would elect the executiveBoth chambers would elect the judgesCongress had control over militaryUnder this plan Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania would dominate
10 The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action (J. Roche) New Jersey PlanAffirmed that the constituents of central government were the states, not the peopleConcentrated efforts on weaknesses of the Virginia PlanFavored a strong central government but not one that privileged the big statesConnecticut CompromiseSupported equal representation in the second chamberElecting an ExecutiveProposalsElected by the peopleElected by state governorsElected by electors chosen by state legislatures
11 The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action (J. Roche) Elected by an Electoral College chosen by a lot from CongressDecision on the executiveChosen by an Electoral CollegeState legislatures would chose the method of selection of electorsSmall states were guaranteed a minimum of 3 votesBig states would have proportional powerCitizens could be involved in the choice of electorsThe House would decide in the event no presidential candidate received a majorityThe Electoral College was to be temporary
12 The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action (J. Roche) 3/5 CompromiseMorality of slavery was not an issueThe issue of slavery was one of taxation, commerce, and representationSome states supported the 3/5 compromise in exchange for support on navigation and commercial lawsWithin 8 months, 8 states had ratified the new Constitution
13 Framing the Constitution: Elitist or Democratic Process: Charles A Framing the Constitution: Elitist or Democratic Process: Charles A. BeardFraming the ConstitutionLaws are to be understood by the circumstances of their enactmentTwo parties in existence during the adoption of ConstitutionOne emphasized strengths and efficiency in governmentThe other highlighted its popular aspectsThe men involved in the construction of the Constitution were bold and radical thinkers
14 Framing the Constitution (C. Beard) Pushed for doctrine of individual rightsSupported the idea of a small governmentGovernment was a necessary evil to be diligently supervised all the timeSupported the idea that man was a rational being with an innate sense of justiceIssues at stake:Maintenance of social orderPayment of public debtCreation of a sound financial systemDevelopment of new economic resourcesProblems:Holders of securities of the Confederacy did not receive interest on their loansFrontier lands were insecure
15 Framing the Constitution (C. Beard) The currency of the states hopelessly confusingDepreciated paper moneyArticles of Confederation were inadequateAnnapolis Convention: few showed up but gave opportunity to call for Philadelphia ConventionPhiladelphia ConventionDelegates were chosen by state legislatures or by governorsThey were all men of political experience and practical knowledgeThey were ex-governors, Congressmen, military men, public administrators, lawyers, etc.They represented the solid, conservative, commercial, and financial interests of the country
16 Framing the Constitution (C. Beard) Purpose of ConventionTo establish a stronger government that wouldPay the national debtRegulate interstate and foreign commerceProvide for national defensePrevent fluctuations in the currencyControl propensities of legislative majorities to attack private rightsProvide stability and efficiencySecure private right against majority factionsPopular governments were considered in slight regardDelegates were not particularly interested in attaining a democracy or equality
17 Federalist 47, 48, 51Background: Our political system is best described as a constitutional democracy: a government that is regulated by laws that limit its exercise of power. The separation of powers was designed so no given group would gain control of the national apparatus.
18 Federalist 47: James Madison The idea of separation of powers is to prevent any of the parts of government from becoming disproportionably powerfulMontesquieu stated that there could be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are placed in the same person or bodyThe constitution of Massachusetts stipulates that the legislative, executive, and judicial branches should never exercise the powers of the others
19 Federalist 48: James Madison The different branches should be connected in a way that each should have constitutional control over the othersPowers of one branch should not be administered by either of the other departmentsA mechanism should be established that would provide a practical security for each against invasion by the othersThe legislature has direct access to the people, giving it a greater facility to dominate the other two branches
20 Federalist 51: James Madison Divide government into separate and distinct branches that will keep each other in their proper placeEach branch checking on the otherThe legislative branch has a tendency to dominate; thus, it should be divided into separate HousesEach department should be as little dependent as possible on the othersEnable government to control the governedEnable government to control itself
21 Interpreting the Constitution Background: The framers of the Constitution created a flexible document for future generations to apply. It is a bare-bones document that has been in place for over 200 years. The on-going debate is over how it should be interpreted : strictly or loosely.
22 How Not to Read the Constitution: Tribe & Dorf The Constitution was perceived as a document that sought a balance between governmental power and individual libertyThe Bill of Rights serves as an auxiliary precaution against tyrannyNot even the most conservative justices believe in a jurisprudence of original intentConservatives no less than liberals go beyond a fixed meaning of the ConstitutionWe must reject the idea of an infinitely malleable Constitution
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