A. The Constitution – nation’s most important document 1. Basic law of the United States 2. Power for all branches of government, all elected officials, including the President, is in this document 3. Parts of the Constitution a. Preamble –Introduction to Constitution 1. identifies the ideas the government \ stands for 2. states the purpose of the Constitution
3. Goals of the Constitution a. form a more perfect Union b. establish justice c. insure domestic tranquility d. provide for a common defense e. promote the general Welfare f. secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity(posterity means for generations not yet born)
Preamble: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,provide for the common defense,promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
b. Articles –seven parts of the Constitution that set forth the terms of this contract 1. Articles I-III - describes the powers and responsibilities of the three branches of government a. Article I –Congress will be made of two houses (Senate & House of Representatives)- LEGISLATIVE -law-making b. Article II- President and Vice President duties EXECUTIVE-carries out the laws c. Article III- Supreme Court or JUDICIAL – highest court in land – makes sure laws are fair 2. Articles IV-VII -explains the relationship between the states and Federal Government
c. Amendments – changes to the Constitution (27) 1. Process for amendments: must first be proposed then ratified a. Proposals : 1. 2/3 vote of members of both Congressional Houses or by a national convention (national convention has never happened b. Ratification: ¾ states must approve either by vote in their state legislature or by calling a special state convention (1X with 21stannuled Prohibition) 1. amendments must be ratified within 7 years
2. Bill of Rights –First 10 Amendments a. describes the powers and rights of the citizens 1. First – protects your 5 basic freedoms: religion, speech, press, assembly, and to petition the government 2. Second –right to serve in state militia/bear arms 3. Third –limits power of Fed gov’t to force Americans to quarter or house soldiers 4. Fourth – known as Privacy Amendment- protects you against unreasonable search and seizures
5. Fifth –protects rights of people accused of crimes – a. cannot be tried without being indicted (formerly accused) b. If judged not guilty, you cannot be put on trial for same crime again (Double Jeopardy) c. You have the right to remain silent (do not have to testify against yourself) d. cannot be denied life, liberty or property without due process of the law (procedures established by law) e. protects your personal property by limiting gov’t power of eminent domain (right of government to take private property-usually land- for public use) 6. Sixth – also protects rights of accused a. you must be told exactly what you are charged with b. you have right to hear and question witnesses against you c. you are entitled to a lawyer whether you can afford one or not
7. Seventh –guarantees right to jury trial in civil cases if amount of money is over $20 8. Eighth – forbids excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment (must be worthy of crime) 9. Ninth –makes clear that the rights in Constitution are not the ONLY rights of citizens 10. Tenth –reminder of what Constitution does not say about federalism a. Federalism –system of government in which power to govern is shared between states and national gov’t b. Laws not defined in Constitution are reserved by states or for the people
B. Basic Principles a. Popular Sovereignty – the people hold the first or “ruling power” in gov’t 1. representative gov’t –to avoid “mob” rule, Framers decided people should elect reps to make decisions 2. indirect election of president – the electoral college created to vote on state’s choice for President a. Senators were chosen by State reps, whom the people voted for. (changed with 17th amendment) b. limited government – one that does not have complete authority 1. guards against tyranny, or cruel and unjust rule
c. federalism–sharing between levels of gov’t d. separation of powers–divided powers among 3 branches e. checks and balances –each branch is able to check or limit the power of the others 1. ex: Pres can veto a bill, Congress can overrideit, Supreme Court decides if a law is constitutional f. Elastic Clause – (the necessary and proper clause) 1.Congress has power to make “all laws which shall be necessary and proper” for carrying out the tasks of government
C. Types of Powers 1. Enumerated (delegated)- powers specifically granted to the national government. 2. Reserved -powers that the Constitution does not give to the national government-goes to State gov’ts 3. Concurrent- powers that both levels of gov’t can exercise, such as taxes 4. Implied -the powers that the legislative branch has that are not specifically listed in the Constitution. a. EXAMPLE: the power to draft people into the military is implied by the power of Congress to raise an army/navy.
D. Responsibilities and Duties of Citizens 1. Responsibilities a. render allegiance – loyalty to your country b. obey the law –most important c. vote –you exercise your right for self-gov’t d. pay taxes (pays for gov’t activities EX. Army) e. serve on a jury -when called f. register for military service (Draft-men) g. become well-informed –know what your gov’t is doing