The Constitution, Bill of Rights & Other Amendments:A Summary Cliffs Quick Review, American Government Sofer, Hoffman and Voss Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2001
Summary of the Constitution The Constitution was a sparse document, providing few details about how the U.S. government would run itself. It explained the rough organization of the three branches, how they would interact with the states, and how the document could be amended. Filling in the details was left to future leaders.
Preamble: The opening statement which lists the six goals for writing the Constitution. the for the
Article I The longest article in the Constitution vests legislative power in the Senate and the House of Representatives. It describes the organization of Congress and lists its specific powers, known as enumerated or delegated powers. Through the necessary and proper clause (also called the elastic clause), Congress can make laws needed to carry out its enumerated powers. Article I also lists the powers denied to Congress and the states.
Article II This article deals with the executive branch and describes the election of the president and vice president, the qualifications for holding the office, and the procedures if a president can no longer serve. The powers of the president include serving as commander in chief of the army and navy, making treaties, and with the “advice and consent of the Senate,” appointing ambassadors, officials, and Supreme Court justices. The president is required to periodically report to Congress on the state of the union, can propose legislation, and can call Congress into special session.
Article III This article establishes the Supreme Court and authorizes Congress to establish lower federal courts. The types of cases the courts have jurisdiction over are given, and a provision is made for the right to trial by jury. While not specifically stated, the power of the courts to declare a law unconstitutional is implied.
Article IV The full faith and credit clause requires that the legislative and judicial actions of one state be honored by the other states. Additionally, a citizen of any state has the same privileges as citizens of all the other states. Article IV also provides for adding new states to the union, guarantees each state a republican form of government, and ensures protection against invasion or domestic violence.
Article V The process for amending the Constitution is described. The states are responsible for ratifying amendments.
Article VI The Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties entered into by the United States are the supreme law of the land. This is known as the supremacy clause.
Article VII Approval by conventions of nine states was required to ratify the Constitution.
Congress proposed 12 amendments in September 1789; three-fourths of the states approved ten of them in December 1791, creating the Bill of Rights. The Declaration of rights is like all other human blessings alloyed with some inconveniences...But the good in this instance vastly outweighs the evil." "If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can." Letter from Jefferson to James Madison, dated March 15, 1789
Amendment I prohibits the establishment of a state religion and protects freedom of the press and speech and the rights to assemble and petition the government
Amendment II guarantees the right to keep and bear arms in the context of a state militia. Now Called The National Guard New York State Militia 1861
Amendment III prohibits the stationing of troops in homes without consent. Two-hundred-thirteen years later, when Sgts. Matthew Friedline, left, and Greg Gittner prepared to deploy to Fort Dix, N.J., in response to the terrorist crisis, nobody thought for a moment about posting them with an area family. The Army reservists bivouacked at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Pittsburgh International Airport
Amendment IV Protects against unreasonable searches and seizures and requires probable cause for search warrants.
Amendment V establishes a grand jury to bring indictments in capital or serious cases, protects against double jeopardy ( a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime) and self-incrimination (individuals cannot be forced to testify against themselves), and guarantees due process and eminent domain (compinsation must be paid for the private property taken for public use).
Amendment VI guarantees the right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury in criminal cases, and to be informed about charges, and to have representation by counsel.
Amendment VII provides for trial by jury in most civil cases. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment VIII prohibits excessive bail or fines and cruel and unusual punishments.
Amendment IX does not deny people the rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
Amendment X gives to the states of the people powers not granted to Congress or denied to the states.
Subsequent Amendments to the Constitution Since the enactment of the Bill of Rights, the amendment process has been used sparingly. While numerous amendments have been proposed in Congress, only a handful have gone to the states for action. An additional 17 amendments to the Constitution have been ratified over the last 200+ years.
Xl 1798 A state can not be sued by individual’s in another state • XII 1804 Electors cast separate votes for president and vice president VS president vice president
XIII 1865 Slavery abolished • XIV 1868 Due process and equal protection of the law given to all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. • XV 1870 Right to vote cannot be denied because of race, color, or previous condition of slavery
XVI 1913 Federal income tax established • XVII 1913 Direct election of Senators • XVIII 1919 Prohibition
XIX 1920 Women given the right to vote • XX 1933 Dates of presidential inauguration and opening of Congress • XXI 1933 Prohibition repealed
D.C. hold 1st presidential vote. • XXII 1951 President Limited to two terms • XXIII 1961 Citizens of District of Columbia given right to vote for president • XXIV 1964 Prohibits poll tax for voting
XXV 1967 Succession of president or vice president • XXVI 1971 Minimum voting age set at 18 • XXVII 1992 Limits on when pay raises for members of Congress can be enacted (originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789)
What amendments to the Constitution have people tried to have passed in recent years, but failed to do so?
WASHINGTON, June 27, 2006 — A proposed Constitutional amendment to allow Congress to prohibit desecration of the flag fell a single vote short of approval by the Senate on Tuesday, an excruciatingly close vote that left unresolved a long-running debate over whether the flag is a unique national symbol deserving of special legal standing. Resolution seeking to outlaw flag burning
Thursday, July 15, 2004 • WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Efforts to pass a constitutional amendment that would effectively ban same-sex marriage failed in the Senate Wednesday afternoon, but supporters vowed to keep fighting for the measure.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)The ERA's first section states "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." It was intended to place into law the equality of men and women. It was sent to the states in March, 1972. The original seven year deadline was extended to ten years. It expired unratified in 1982. Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
The Washington DC Voting Rights AmendmentGranted the citizens of Washington DC the same full representation in Congress as any state, and repealed the 23rd Amendment granting the District votes in the Electoral College (since it would have been moot). Proposed in 1978, it expired unratified in 1985.
Now you propose a new amendment for the Constitution that establishes a critical “right” not currently protected by the document and explain why this “right” ought to be protected. Assignment