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Structure of the Constitution

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Presentation on theme: "Structure of the Constitution"— Presentation transcript:

1 Structure of the Constitution
Chapter 3, Lesson 3

2 Is more than just a plan for government!
The Constitution… Is the highest authority in the nation Is the basic law of the United States Is where we find explanations of the three branches Is a symbol of our nation Stands for our basic ideals such as personal liberty and democracy Is more than just a plan for government!

3 Three Parts of the constitution
Preamble States the goals and purposes of the government Begins with, “We the people…” Seven Articles Describe the way the government is set up 27 Amendments Additions and changes to the Constitution

4 Tells us that the power of the government comes from the people
The preamble Consists of one single, powerful sentence that begins and ends as follows, “We the people of the United States… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Tells us that the power of the government comes from the people

5 The middle part of the Preamble states six purposes of government.
1. To “form a more perfect union” 2. To “establish justice” 3. Ensure domestic tranquility 4. To “provide for common defense” 5. To “promote the general welfare” 6. To “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”

6 The seven articles Article 1 outlines the Legislative branch Article 2 outlines the Executive branch Article 3 outlines the Judicial branch Article 4 explains the relationship between the federal and state governments Article 5 describes when and how the Constitution can be changed Article 6 declares the Constitution the “supreme law of the land.” Article 7 describes how the Constitution was to be ratified

7 The amendments Amendment- a change to the Constitution The first 10 amendments make up the Bill of Rights Thousands of amendments have been considered over the last years, but only 27 have been ratified Why? The framers made it very difficult to change the Constitution on purpose because they didn’t want the Constitution to be amended without the overwhelming support of the people. They wanted the Constitution to be easier to change than the Articles because they wanted it to be able to change with social conditions

8 How is our constitution unique?
It has less than 7,000 words, making a short constitution compared to those of other countries It does not go into a lot of detail How could this flexibility and lack of detail be a strength?

9 Amending the Constitution
There are two steps to amending the Constitution: proposal and ratification. Two types of proposal: 1) Act of Congress by a vote of 2/3. 2) National convention called by 2/3 of the state legislatures. Once an amendment has been proposed, it must be ratified by 3/4 of the states. Ratification can be voted on by the state legislature (state congress) or by a special state convention.

10 Amend i ng

11 Interpreting the constitution
The framers knew that they world would change in ways they could not predict so they kept the Constitution as general as possible. The “necessary and proper” or elastic clause allows Congress to stretch their powers to meet the needs of modern society (technology). Not everyone agrees on how far these powers should stretch. Some people believe that Congress should be allowed to make any laws that the Constitution does not forbid and that fit its purposes. These people have a “loose” interpretation of the Constitution. Others think Congress should only make the kinds of laws mentioned in the Constitution. These people have a “strict” interpretation of the Constitution.

12 Who does the interpreting?
The final authority for interpreting the Constitution is the Supreme Court. Over the years they have interpreted it strictly and loosely. What determines how the Court interprets the Constitution? Congress and the President also interpret the Constitution by taking actions not directed by it. Ex. The Constitution does not say the President can propose budgets to Congress, but all of them have. Interpretations change as society changes. Ex. The Constitution does not say anything about political parties, but they are an important part of our political system.

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