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Why Does the Constitution Matter?


body of fundamental laws which say how a government is to operate It is the supreme law of the land It explains how the government works It protects your civil rights

A Brief Outline
Preamble lays out the purpose and introduces the Constitution The Articles the substance of governmental law The Amendments

The Seven Articles


The Legislative Branch II. The Executive Branch III. The Judicial Branch IV. Relations Among States V. The Amendment Process VI. National Debts, National Supremacy, Oaths of Office VII. Requirements for Ratification

The Six Basic Principles of the Constitution

1. Popular Sovereignty supreme power rests with and only with the people Some parts of the Constitution mitigate

popular sovereignty Electoral College chooses the president, not popular vote

The Six Basic Principles of the Constitution

2. Limited Government Also called constitutionalism, and rule of

law Government is not all-powerful Powers government has and doesnt have are listed

The Six Basic Principles of the Constitution


Separation of Powers U.S. uses a presidential government, where the executive and legislative branches are chosen separately Each branch has its own powers and responsibilities

The Six Basic Principles of the Constitution 4. Checks and Balances

Each branch is

not totally independent of the others They have powers to override each other when necessary

The Six Basic Principles of the Constitution 5. Judicial Review

Courts may determine

whether or not what the President or Congress does is Constitutional If court declares an act unconstitutional, the act is not a law, and the decision cannot be overridden

The Six Basic Principles of the Constitution


Federalism The national government is given certain powers by the Constitution Whatever is left is a power for the states to use

Key Parts of Article I

Section 8 List of all expressed powers Congress has Also includes the necessary and proper clause Gives Congress additional implied powers Section 9 Prohibits certain actions Congress may take No ex post facto laws punishment for doing something before it was illegal No suspension of habeas corpus the right to challenge ones own detention in court

Key Parts of Article II

Section 2 President can appoint people to many positions Must have advice and consent of the Senate Senate takes a majority vote to confirm appointments Section 4 Can only be removed by impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors

Key Parts of Article IV

Section 1 Full Faith and Credit Clause

States must grant each other full faith and

credit on public acts, records, and judicial proceedings

Means legal decisions of states must

be respected and held to by other states Section 2 Privileges and Immunities Clause
States must grant residents of other states

all privileges and immunities they give to their own residents

Article V - Formal Amendment Process

Step 1 Must Be Proposed (happens at the national level) Step 2 Must Be Ratified (happens at the state level) This is a reflection of federalism

2 Ways to Propose an Amendment


2/3 vote in both houses of Congress

All 27 Amendments were

proposed this way


Constitutional Convention requested by 2/3 of the states

Has not ever been used

2 Ways to Ratify an Amendment 1. 3/4 of state legislatures approve it

26 of the 27 Amendments were

ratified this way


3/4 of conventions called by the states approve it

Only the 21st Amendment was

ratified this way

Key Parts of Article VI

Section 2 Supremacy Clause

Federal laws are always supreme over state

laws, U.S. Constitution is supreme over all state constitutions

These are awesome! And you get to memorize them!

The 1st Amendment


of Religion

Establishment Clause government cannot

establish a religion Free Exercise Clause government cannot prohibit you from practicing religion

of Speech Freedom of the Press Right to Assembly Right to Petition

The 2nd Amendment


Right to Bear Arms Not the Right to Bare Arms

The 3rd Amendment


Quartering of Soldiers in Times of Peace

The 4th Amendment


Against Unreasonable Search and Seizure

The 5th Amendment


Double Jeopardy (Cant be charged with the same crime twice) Protection against selfincrimination Guarantee of Due Process of Law

The 6th Amendment

Right to a Criminal Trial by Jury

Trial must be speedy, public Must be in the state where the crime was

committed Right to legal counsel Right to call witnesses favorable to the defendant

The 7th Amendment


to a Civil Trial by Jury Civil not criminal, typically a lawsuit for money or to repeal a government action

The 8th Amendment


Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The 9th Amendment


Retained by the People In other words, just because a right isnt listed here in the Constitution doesnt mean that people dont have that right Truth from your teacher yes, it does.

The 10th Amendment


Reserved for the States All powers that are not given to the national government are reserved for the states

Informal Amendments

vast majority of changes to the Constitution have not changed the words in the Constitution

Basic Legislation


laws provide specific details about the vague purposes and ideas in the Constitution

Basic Legislation

also changes its own powers over time, based on the words of the Constitution Result of Necessary and Proper Clause

Executive Action

are always looking for ways to stretch and grow their powers Thus, presidents today are much more powerful than in the past

Court Decisions

Marbury v. Madison, the court has had the power to declare acts of the president and Congress unconstitutional

Court Decisions

power is called judicial review, and the court uses it to tell us what they interpret the Constitution to mean

Party Practices

parties did not exist at the nations start, but they have become an almost necessary element

Party Practices

electoral college used to decide together who would be the president. Now, they just rubber stamp the choice of voters


customs have developed that we follow just as strongly as laws Senatorial Courtesy when nominating a judge, the president always asks the permission of the two Senators from the judges state Cabinet 15 advisors for the president are not in the Constitution