blueprint of the constitution
By John Seymour
Created 3 years ago
A description of Constitutional principles and a discussion of the organization and structure of the United States Constitution
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Slide 1 - The Constitution: Blueprint of Government
- By John M. Seymour
- Burges High School
- El Paso ISD
Slide 2 - Learning Objective
- After completing this lesson, you will:
- List and describe the six principles of Constitutionalism.
- Discuss, explain and apply the contents of the United States Constitution.
Slide 3 - The Constitution: A Great Experiment
- The Founding Fathers wanted a document that would divide, distribute, balance, and protect governmental powers and ensure that the liberties and rights of the people were protected. To achieve this, they instituted a series of important principles into the new Constitution.
- They had a little help from those giants upon whose shoulders they knew they were standing – the Enlightenment philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu.
- But these brave men, the Founding Fathers, were working in unknown and untested territory – the creation of an entirely new form of Democracy (which would be described as a Federal Republic). In order to go about this grand experiment, the Founding Fathers instituted a number of important philosophical principles, which we will call “Constitutional Ideals.” These are described in the chart on the next slide.
Slide 4 - Principles of Constitutionalism
- IMPORTANT CONSTITUTIONAL IDEALS
- POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY
- People establish governments and are the source of all governmental powers. People tell the government what to do instead of governments controlling the lives of the people.
- LIMITED GOVERNMENT
- Governments must have restricted and highly controlled power so that they do not exercise “tyranny” or unrestrained power over the people. Individual rights must be “firewalled” and protected from government abuse.
- SEPARATION OF POWERS
- Government power is divided among branches. In U.S. Government, this is the Legislative (lawmaking), Executive (Implement and Execute laws), and Judicial (Interpret and enforce laws) branches.
- CHECKS AND BALANCES
- In order to ensure that no one branch of government wields too much power over the others, each branch is given authority to check or restrain some of the powers of the other branches.
- JUDICIAL REVIEW
- The judiciary (Supreme Court and lower courts) has the power to strike down laws and other government actions as unconstitutional.
- The powers and rights of the states are protected and balanced with powers and rights given to the national government through a process of division and power-sharing as outlined in the Constitution.
Slide 5 - Incorporating New Governmental Principles
- Once these basic principles of governing were identified, they were then included in the new Constitution.
- The Founding Fathers believed that if the new federal government could be instituted in such a way as to reflect these basic principles and could stay true to them over time, this new experiment might just work.
- Of course, we are now more than 227 years later and they did such a good job the document has only had to be formally changed 27 times to date.
- Of those 27 formal changes, ten of them were made in the first two years of the new Constitution in order to create our nation’s Bill of Rights.
Slide 6 - The Constitution:“Short and Sweet”
- In its original form, the U.S. Constitution runs just over 4,500 words.
- In comparison to other national Constitutions and the individual state constitutions, this is a rather brief document.
- But in this brief document, the Founding Fathers have offered us an outline for governance that has incorporated ideas that had worked for other governments in the past as well as new and uniquely "American" ideas.
- Makes our Constitution something that has been the envy (and the model) of modern democracies throughout history.
Slide 7 - Blueprint for a New Form of Government
- Written in Three Main Parts:
- Begins with “We The People” to guarantee the people are the source of the government’s power (popular sovereignty)
- Acts as an introduction to the Constitution and clearly states the goals and purposes of our Government.
- 7 Articles (the meat of the Constitution)
- Branches (separation of powers and checks & balances): Legislative (Article I), Executive (Article II) and Judicial (Article III).
- Article IV specifically outlines the American system of federalism, which is the balance and division of power between the new national government and the individual states.
- Article V discusses the process by which the Constitution may be formally changed or Amended.
- Has only happened 27 times in our history and the first ten of those changes created the Bill of Rights so we can see that this document has been fairly unchanged (formally) over its history. Lets compare that to the almost 500 times the Texas State Constitution has been changed since its creation in 1876.
- Article VI makes the Constitution the "Supreme Law of the Land“
- Article VII was intended to be used only once then never used again. That is, it was designed to outline the process by which the Constitution itself would be adopted by the 13 states.
- Formal Changes to the Constitution (there are presently 27 of those).
Slide 8 - Outline of the Constitution
- Article I: Legislature
- Section 1 – Congressional Power
- Section 2 – House of Representatives
- Section 3 – Senate
- Section 4 – Elections & Required Meetings
- Section 5 – Qualifications and Rules
- Section 6 – Pay and Restrictions on Dual Service
- Section 7 – Legislative Process
- Section 8 –Powers of Congress
- Section 9 – Limitations on Congress
- Section 10 – Powers Prohibited to the States
- Article II: The Presidency
- Section 1 – Election, Installation & Removal
- Section 2 – Presidential Power
- Section 3 – State of the Union, Receive Ambassadors, Laws Faithfully Executed, Commission Officers
- Section 4 – Impeachment & Removal
- Article III: The Judicial Branch
- Section 1 – Judicial Power Vested
- Section 2 – Scope of Judicial Power
- Section 3 - Treason
- Article IV: The States
- Section 1 – Full Faith & Credit
- Section 2 – Privileges and Immunities, Extradition, Fugitive Slaves
- Section 3 – Admission of States
- Section 4 – Guarantees to States
- Article V: The Amendment Process
- Article VI: Supremacy
- Article VII: Ratification
- Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10)
- Additional Amendments (11-27)
Slide 9 - Preamble
- “We The People” … These three words set the tone for the United States Constitution. They were intended to document the recognition of popular sovereignty … all government power comes from the people. The preamble continues by outlining the specific purposes of government in the United States …
- 1) To form a more perfect union – correct problems inherent in the Articles of Confederation
- 2) Establish Justice – Create a system of fair and equitable justice (federal courts)
- 3) Ensure domestic tranquility – Respond to internal disruptions and disputes between the states
- 4) Provide for the common defense – Provide a system of national defense including army and navy
- 5) Promote the general welfare – Economic and social prosperity and a stable society
- 6) Secure the blessings of liberty – promote and protect individual rights and liberties particularly with regard to property and protections from government intrusions on the people.
Slide 10 - Article I Section 1 Congressional Power and Bicameral Legislature
- The legislative, or law-making, branch of the U.S. government is called Congress and is comprised of 2 houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives
Slide 11 - Article I Section 2: House of Representatives
- Elections for the House of Representatives occur every 2 years. Voting for representatives is determined by each state. Those who have the right to vote in elections for the largest branch of their state government must be allowed to vote in the elections for their representatives.
- A representative must be at least 25 years old, must have been a U.S. citizen for at least 7 years, and must, at the time of election, be a citizen of the state from which he is elected.
- The number of representatives per state in the House of Representatives is determined by a population count to be taken every 10 years starting 3 years after the first meeting of Congress. Population counts tally all free people, including indentured servants, plus 3/5 of all slaves. Native Americans who are not taxed are not counted. A state sends one representative per 30,000 people.
- Every state gets at least one representative, even if its population does not reach 30,000. Until the first population count, the number of representatives for each of the 13 states is set as follows: New Hampshire (3), Massachusetts (8), Rhode Island (1), Connecticut (5), New York (6), New Jersey (4), Pennsylvania (8), Delaware (1), Maryland (6), Virginia (10), North Carolina (5), South Carolina (5), and Georgia (3).
- If a representative’s spot is suddenly vacated, the executive power from that state determines how it will be filled until election time.
- The House chooses its own speaker and other officers. The power of impeachment resides in the House: the House can impeach any civil officer of the United States, including president and vice president, but excluding members of Congress.
Slide 12 - Article I Section 3: The Senate
- Each state sends 2 senators as representation to the Senate. The legislative branch of each state selects the senators. Senators serve for a 6-year period. Each senator has 1 vote. [Note: Since the ratification of Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, senators have been directly elected by the people rather than appointed by state legislatures.]
- Divides senators into three groups so that not all the senators would be up for re-election at the same time. Establish a rotation, so that only a third of the Senate is replaced every 2 years. If a senator’s spot is suddenly vacated, the executive power from that state will appoint a temporary replacement until the state legislature meets again and chooses a permanent replacement.
- A senator must be at least 30 years old, must have been a U.S. citizen for at least 9 years, and must, at the time of election, be a citizen of the state from which he is elected.
- The vice president of the United States serves as president of the Senate, but will not be allowed to vote except to break a tie.
- The Senate chooses its other officers. When the vice president is temporarily absent or is exercising the powers of the president of the United States, the Senate may choose temporary replacement.
- The Senate tries all cases of impeachment. The chief justice presides over presidential impeachment trials. A conviction requires that 2/3 of the members present agree. The Senate can only remove a convicted official from office and disqualify him from holding other federal offices. The convicted official then becomes liable to other criminal proceedings in a standard court of law.
Slide 13 - Article I Section 4: Rules for Electing Members of Congress and for When Congress Convenes
- The manner of elections in each state is solely determined by that state. Congress may alter the means of elections in the future, but it cannot change the places for choosing senators.
- Congress meets once each year beginning on the first Monday in December, unless a new law changes the day. [Note: The Twentieth Amendment, ratified in 1933, changed the day Congress convenes to January 3.]
Slide 14 - Article I Section 5: Procedural Rules Within Congress
- Each house determines its own rules and regulations for membership and proceedings. A majority of members present makes a quorum, which is the attendance required for Congress to conduct business. Each house has the authority to force absent members to return and to determine their punishment. A member cannot be expelled from either house without 2/3 of the members of that house agreeing to his expulsion.
- Each house keeps records of its meetings that will be published unless some matter requires secrecy. The voting record of each house will be included in the journal if 1/5 of the members present agree to its publication.
- Neither house can adjourn for more than 3 days without the approval of the other house. Neither house can adjourn to a location different from where the other house is meeting.
Slide 15 - Article I Section 6: Salaries, Privileges, and Constraints for Members of Congress
- Senators and representatives are paid for their service from the U.S. Treasury. Their salaries are to be determined by law.
- Senators and representatives cannot be arrested for a crime, except for treason, felony, or breach of peace, while meeting in Congress or while traveling to or from a meeting of Congress. Freedom of speech is protected in both houses.
- While a senator or representative is serving in Congress, he may not take any civilian job newly created by the U.S. government or any civilian job that recently had its salary raised. No one holding another post in U.S. government can serve at the same time as a senator or representative.
Slide 16 - Article I Section 7: How a Bill Becomes Law
- A proposed law, or bill, can originate in either the Senate or the House of Representatives, except for new tax laws, which must come from the House of Representatives.
- If a bill is passed in both the House and the Senate, it will go to the president for review. The president has the right to accept it or return it with objections to the house that had originally proposed it. Once returned, the objections to the bill must be recorded into the journal of that house. If 2/3 of that house agrees to pass the bill, it is sent to the other house for reconsideration. If 2/3 of the other house also agrees to pass the bill, it automatically becomes a law despite the president’s veto. In both houses, the votes are recorded in the journal. If the president takes more than 10 days to return a bill, not counting Sundays, the bill automatically becomes a law unless Congress has already ended its session. [Note: If Congress has indeed ended its session within this 10-day period, the bill dies in what is known as a “pocket veto” —so named because the president has effectively killed the bill by not responding, or by pocketing it.]
- Anytime the Senate and House of Representatives vote together on an order, resolution, or another issue besides a bill, except a joint decision to adjourn, that vote must be presented to and approved by the president before it becomes effective. If the president rejects the vote of Congress, the vote will still be effective if 2/3 of both houses agree to override the president’s veto (similar to the procedure for passing a bill).
Slide 17 - Article I Section 8: Powers Given to CongressSlide 1
- Congress has the power to levy and collect taxes —including taxes on imports—to pay debts, to defend the nation, and to protect the general welfare. All taxes on trade must be uniform throughout the nation.
- Congress can regulate commerce with foreign nations, between the states, and with Native American tribes.
- Congress can borrow money on U.S. credit, determine rules of citizenship and naturalization, and establish laws of bankruptcy that apply to the entire nation.
- Congress has the power to coin money and establish its value relative to foreign currency. Congress establishes the standard of weights and measures. Congress determines the punishment for counterfeiting money.
- Congress establishes post offices and “post roads.”
- Congress can determine a system of copyrights and patents to protect the ideas of authors and inventors in the arts and sciences.
- Congress determines the federal court system below the Supreme Court.
- Congress has the authority to judge whether a crime has been committed at sea, and to decide on an appropriate punishment. Congress determines how to punish a violation of international law.
Slide 18 - Article I Section 8: Powers Given to Congress (Slide 2)
- Congress declares war; issues letters of marque and reprisal, which grant private citizens the right to capture enemy ships in wartime; and makes the rules of capture on land and water.
- Congress funds and maintains the army, but it may not give money for that purpose for more than a 2-year period. Congress also provides and maintains a navy and makes rules to regulate both the army and the navy.
- Congress has the authority to call upon the local militia in order to enforce the laws of the nation, suppress any internal rebellions, and provide defense against invasion. Congress provides weapons, discipline, and organization for the militia. The states appoint the officers and train the militia under the rules of discipline established by Congress.
- A separate district will be set aside as the official capital of the United States government, and Congress will exercise sole legislative authority over the district (not to exceed 10 square miles). The district will be made up of land ceded from the states. Congress will exert similar authority over pieces of land ceded by the states in order to build U.S. governmental forts, arsenals, and other government buildings.
- Finally, Congress has the authority to make any additional laws necessary to execute any of the above-mentioned powers, or any other powers that the U.S. Constitution grants to the other branches or officers of the U.S. government—what are known as the enumerated powers.
- [Note: This final provision is known as the “elastic clause” because it grants Congress a broad range of powers—the so-called implied powers —beyond those enumerated above.
Slide 19 - Article I Section 9: Powers Withheld from Congress
- States are allowed to continue the slave trade until 1808, at which point Congress will make it illegal. Congress has the right to tax the importation of slaves, but at no more than $10 a person.
- The right to habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless emergency situations—for example, rebellions or foreign invasions—require it to be suspended.
- No bill of attainder will be passed, which means no individual will be attainted (condemned to lose his civil rights) or have his property confiscated without a trial. Also, no ex post facto law will be passed, which means no one will be punished for an act committed before a law made the act illegal.
- Direct taxes can only be levied relative to population size as determined by the census. [Note: The Sixteenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, allowed Congress to directly tax income.]
- No export items from any state can be taxed.
- Congress will not give special treatment to the ports of one state over another. States are not allowed to charge a fee to ships from other states entering their ports.
- Congress cannot spend any of its money without the expenditure being clearly indicated by law. Congress must publish a record of all of its expenses.
- The United States will not grant titles of nobility (no Kings, Queens, Dukes or Earls). No person holding any government office will be allowed to accept any gifts or titles from a foreign country or leader without the permission of Congress.
Slide 20 - Article I Section 10: Powers Withheld from the States
- States are forbidden to enter into any treaties or alliances or to pass letters of marque and reprisal (letters that grant permission for citizens to plunder ships during war). States are also forbidden to coin money or print paper money, or to accept anything but gold and silver as payment for debts. States cannot allow criminal conviction without a trial or pass any ex post facto laws (see Section 9, above). States may not pass any laws that interfere with legal contracts or grant any title of nobility.
- Only with the explicit permission of Congress can a state impose any duties on trade, unless doing so is absolutely necessary for inspection purposes. Any duties collected in excess of those for inspection purposes must be given to the U.S. Treasury. Any state laws governing trade duties must be revised and controlled by Congress.
- States are also prohibited from laying any duties on ship tonnage or maintaining troops and naval ships in times of peace without the approval of Congress. States may not enter into agreements with other states or a foreign power or engage in war without congressional permission, unless acting in defense against an invasion.
Slide 21 - Article II: Executive Branch and Presidency
- Section 1: The President and Vice President—Qualifications for Office and Election Proceedings
- The executive branch of the U.S. government includes a president and a vice president, who serve together for a term of 4 years.
- Outline of the Electoral College System (PEOPLE VOTE FOR ELECTORS NOT CANDIDATES)
- The person earning the highest number of votes will be elected president, so long as this number constitutes a majority of the electors. If no person wins a numerical majority of the votes, then the House of Representatives will choose the president from among the top 5 candidates. In case of a tie, the House of Representatives will choose between the 2. For the House of Representatives to conduct this vote, 2/3 of all the states must be represented—a quorum. Each state gets a single vote. A candidate must win the majority of this vote in order to be elected president. [Note: The Twelfth Amendment, ratified in 1804, revised this election process.]
- In every case, the second runner-up becomes vice president. If there is a tie for vice president, the Senate will vote to determine the winner. [Note: The Twelfth Amendment, ratified in 1804, modified this process so that candidates are clearly listed as running either for president or vice president.]
- Congress determines the time for states to choose their electors and the date that the electors’ votes are due. This date is the same for all states.
- QUALIFICATIONS FOR PRESIDENT:
- The president must be a natural-born citizen or must have become a citizen by the time the U.S. Constitution was passed. The president must be at least 35 years old and must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.
- If the president dies, is removed from office, resigns, or is otherwise unable to discharge the powers of his office, the vice president will assume the presidential duties. Congress has the authority to determine by law who will perform presidential duties if both the president and the vice president are unable to perform their duties because of death, resignation, or other circumstances. The person chosen by law of Congress will remain in power until either the president or vice president is able to serve again, or another presidential election is held. [Note: This clause was modified by the Twenty fifth Amendment, ratified in 1967.]
- The president receives a salary, but it cannot be changed during the period of his election. He will not receive any other payment from the United States, or any state, during his term in office. Salary is presently $400,000 per year and a $50,000 annual expense budget.
- The president takes the following oath before he officially has the power of the presidency: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.“
- In 2009, Chief Justice Roberts accidentally misquoted the oath and President Obama had to take it over again in his office the next day (just to be on the safe side).
Slide 22 - Article II: Executive Branch & Presidency
- Section 2: Presidential Powers
- The president serves as the commander-in-chief of both the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia in each state when used for national purposes.
- The president may request, in writing, the advice of the highest officer in each executive department. [Note: This clause gave rise to the presidential cabinet, which first formed in 1789.]
- The president has the authority to grant pardons in all cases except impeachments.
- The president has the power to make foreign treaties, provided that 2/3 of the senators present agree. The president can nominate and appoint, with the approval of the Senate, ambassadors and other public ministers, judges to the Supreme Court, and any other officials whose appointment is not already prescribed by the Constitution but shall be provided for by law. Congress can specify the nature of these appointments in written law: that is, decide whether to invest the president with sole authority over these appointments, or to grant this authority to courts of law or to various heads of departments.
- If vacancies occur while the Senate is out of session, the president has the authority to fill them temporarily until the end of the next Senate meeting.
Slide 23 - Article II: Executive Branch & Presidency
- Section 3: Presidential Duties
- The president must occasionally give a speech to Congress on the “State of the Union” and recommend to Congress actions that he deems necessary. He has the authority to convene both houses, or either house, in an emergency situation. If the two houses are in disagreement about when to adjourn, the president determines their time of adjournment.
- The president receives ambassadors and other public ministers. The president ensures that all laws are executed and commissions all the officers of the United States.
- Section 4: Impeachment and Removal From Office
- President may be impeached and removed from office for offenses including treason, bribery, or other “high crimes and misdemeanors” (not well defined).
- House accuses (Articles of Impeachment) and Senate Convicts (Removes from Office)
- May not be punished beyond removal from office but may face additional civil or criminal trial and punishment outside of Congress.
Slide 24 - Article III: Judicial Branch
- Section 1:
- Supreme Court is given “all judicial power of the United States”
- Gives power to Congress for the creation of “inferior courts” which became the federal court system.
- Section 2:
- Defines jurisdiction of federal courts.
- Establishes “original jurisdiction” for cases involving Ambassadors, foreign ministers and consuls and cases involving the States as a party.
- All other cases are at the discretion of the Court (less than 100 out of tens of thousands of cases presented for review are ever considered in any year by the Court).
- Anyone accused of a crime in at the federal level has the right to a trial by jury of his peers rather than a bench trial (held only by the judge).
- Section 3:
- Treason defined narrowly as waging war against the United States or giving aid or comfort to U.S. enemies and requires two eyewitnesses to give testimony to the same overt act unless the accused person confesses in open court. Punishment for treason may not extend to the family or heirs of the accused person.
Slide 25 - Article IV: The States
- Section 1: State Records (Full Faith and Credit Clause)
- Each state must respect the laws, public records, and court decisions of every other state. Congress is responsible for deciding how such state acts will be made official and enforced.
- Section 2: Citizenship
- A citizen in one state is considered a citizen in every state and is entitled to all rights thereof.
- Anyone who is charged with a crime in one state and escapes to another state must be returned to the original state upon the request of the original state’s executive authority.
- A slave or indentured servant who escapes from one state to another does not become free in the new state. The state to which the slave fled must return the escaped slave to his/her master. [Note: This clause was superseded by the Thirteenth Amendment, ratified in 1865, which abolished slavery.]
- Section 3: The Admission of New States to the Union
- A new state may be admitted into the Union by the authority of Congress. No new state can be made within the boundaries of an existing state or from the parts of a few existing states, unless Congress and the state legislature(s) involved agree.
- Any territories, before becoming states, are subject to the rules and regulations made by Congress for that territory. Nothing in the Constitution should be interpreted in any way to prejudice the claims of the United States or of any particular state
- Section 4: The Admission of New States
- The United Sates guarantees to each state that it will be governed in a republican manner. The federal government will protect each state from invasion and will, when directed by Congress (or by the president when Congress is not in session), defend each state against internal revolts.
Slide 26 - Article V: The Amendment Process
- Amendments to the U.S. Constitution can be proposed either:
- if 2/3 of both the Senate and House of Representatives agree
- if 2/3 of all state legislatures call a convention for proposing new amendments
- Amendments are ratified either when 3/4 of all the state legislatures agree to the amendment or when 3/4 of special ratifying conventions in each state agree. Congress shall decide which form of ratification to use.
- Amendments cannot be made before 1808 that change the constitutional provisions concerning the slave trade and direct taxation based on the census (see Article I, Section 9). Also, no amendment can ever deprive a state, without its consent, of its equal representation in the Senate.
Slide 27 - Article VI: Governmental Supremacy
- Section 1: New government promises to take on all debts from the old one.
- Section 2: States that the Constitution is the “Supreme Law of the Land.” (Supremacy Clause)
- Section 3: All government officials (elected or appointed) must swear an oath to support the Constitution.
- Oath does not have to be religious in nature.
- Government officials may not be forced to take a “test of religious affiliation” in order to take office.
Slide 28 - Article VII: Constitutional Ratification
- Section 1: Requires at least nine states to ratify the new Constitution before it can become law.
- Constitution is drafted September 16, 1787
- Delaware is the first state to ratify it on December 7, 1787
- Federalists and Anti-federalists begin public debate through “Federalist Papers” and “Anti-Federalist Papers”
- New York ratifies Constitution on July 26, 1788 making it the 11th state to ratify.
- Rhode Island was the last state to ratify on May 29, 1790 making it a unanimous adoption.
Slide 29 - What Have We Learned?
- The Framers of the Constitution wanted to create an entirely new and untested form of government called a Federal Republic.
- The applied and incorporated six principles of Constitutionalism into this new form of government:
- Popular Sovereignty
- Limited Government
- Separation of Powers
- Checks and Balances
- Judicial Review
- The Constitution is actually a brief document when it is compared to other constitutions around the world.
- The Constitution serves as a type of blueprint for how our government will operate.
- 7 Articles
- I-III deal with the Branches of Government
- IV deals with the states
- V deals with changing (amending) the Constitution
- VI establishes national supremacy (supremacy clause)
- VII was only used to ratify the Constitution
- Bill of Rights and additional amendments
Slide 30 - Works Cited