The Principles of the United States Constitution
PO 1. Describe how the following philosophies and documents influenced the creation of the Constitution: Magna Carta English Bill of Rights Montesquieu’s separation of power John Locke’s theories – natural law, social contract Mayflower Compact Declaration of Independence Articles of Confederation –
Concept 2: Structure of Government PO 1. Describe the following principles on which the Constitution (as the Supreme Law of the Land) was founded: federalism (i.e., enumerated, reserved, and concurrent powers) popular sovereignty Separation of Powers checks and balances limited government flexibility (i.e., Elastic Clause, amendment process)
PO 2. Differentiate the roles and powers of the three branches of the federal government.
Early Influences Magna Carta – 1215, the English King is given limited power. He could not raise taxes without approval of the Great Council and he had to obey the law. English Bill of Rights – Sets out the rights of citizens and certain constitutional requirements where the actions of the Crown require the consent of the governed as represented in Parliament.
Basis for our Government Montesquieu’s separation of powers - legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. These should be separate from and dependent upon each other so that the influence of any one power would not be able to exceed that of the other two, either singly or in combination. John Locke’s theories - advocated governmental checks and balances and believed that revolution is not only a right but an obligation in some circumstances.
Development in America Mayflower Compact – Pilgrims agree to consult each other about laws and to work together for success of the colony Declaration of Independence – Created a new nation, separate from England Articles of Confederation – Created a weak national government because states had final authority Shay’s Rebellion – Showed the flaws in the Articles of Confederation
I. Popular Sovereignty The people hold the ultimate authority A representative democracy lets the people elect leaders to make decisions for them. John McCain and Jon Kyl are our elected officials in the Senate. We have 8 representatives in the House!
II. Limited Government Framers wanted to guard against tyranny Government is limited to the power given them in the Constitution. The Constitution tells how leaders who overstep their power can be removed
III. Federalism The division of power between State and National Governments Some powers are shared The National Government has the “supreme power”
Powers of the Government Enumerated - a list of specific responsibilities which state the authority granted to the United States Congress. Reserved – 10 th Amendment limits the authority of government to the powers stated in the Constitution. All other power is reserved for the states and the people. Concurrent – Shared powers (collect taxes, borrow money, maintain courts, make laws, provide for the welfare of the people)
IV. Separation of Powers No one holds “too much” power Legislative branch makes the laws Executive branch carries out the laws Judicial branch interprets the laws
Legislative Branch Senate and House of Representatives Make our laws Regulate Immigration Establish Post Offices and Roads
Powers of the Legislative Branch Coining money. Maintaining a military. Declaring war on other countries. Regulating interstate and foreign commerce
Executive Branch The President of the United States Chief Executive Chief of State Chief Legislator Commander in Chief
Powers of the Executive Branch Power to manage national affairs and the workings of the federal government Commander-in-chief of the armed forces Can veto any bill passed by Congress and, unless two-thirds of the members of each house vote to override the veto, the bill does not become law. Nominates federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court
Judicial Branch Supreme Court and other Federal Courts Preserve and protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution Considers cases involving national laws Declares laws and acts “unconstitutional”
Powers of the Judicial Branch The power given to courts to interpret the law is called jurisdiction. The jurisdiction granted to the judicial branch is limited to federal and constitutional laws. The Supreme Court decides arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution. A court's authority to decide constitutionality is called judicial review.
V. Checks and Balances Prevents the abuse of power in government Each branch can check each other branch
Executive Checks Propose laws to Congress Veto laws made by Congress Negotiate foreign treaties Appoint federal judges Grant pardons to federal offenders
Legislative Checks Override president’s veto Ratify treaties Confirm executive appointments Impeach federal officers and judges Create and dissolve lower federal courts
Judicial Checks Declare executive acts unconstitutional Declare laws unconstitutional Declare acts of Congress unconstitutional The Supreme Court holds the final check
A Living Document Flexibility Elastic Clause - a statement in the U.S. Constitution granting Congress the power to pass all laws necessary and proper for carrying out the enumerated list of powers (Article I, Section 8 ). Amendments (additions or changes) - The Constitution of the United States may be amended when two thirds of each house of Congress approves a proposed amendment and three fourths of the states thereafter ratify it.