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The Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land —no local law, state law, school rule or any other law imposed by the government can go against it. State Law. CONSTITUTION. Local Law. School Rule. The Preamble tells us the purpose of the Constitution :

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The Constitution

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The constitution

The Constitution

The constitution

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land—no local law, state law, school rule or any other law imposed by the government can go against it.

State Law


Local Law

School Rule

The constitution

The Preamble tells us the purpose of the Constitution:

“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.”

There are nine parts to the constitution

There are nine parts to the Constitution:

The Preamble—explains why it was made

Article 1—explains the Legislative Branch

Article 2—explains the Executive Branch

Article 3—explains the Judicial Branch

Article 4—explains how states interact

Article 5—Tells how to change the Constitution

Article 6—Tells the supremacy of the National Government

Article 7—Ratification

Bill of Rights—lists rights retained by the people

This is where the legislative branch meets

This is where the Legislative Branch meets:


The Capitol Building

Article one

Article One

The legislative branch makes the laws

This goes to the heart of republicanism= choosing representatives to make laws rather than relying on kings and queens

There are two parts: the House of Representatives and the Senate

The House is based on population whereas each state gets two members in the Senate (remember the Great Compromise)

Article one continued

Article One continued…

Members of the House of Representatives must be at least 25 years old and they serve two-year terms:

You must

You must…

  • Have been a citizen for at least 7 years

And you must

And you must…

Live in the area that you are representing

The constitution

Senators must be 30 years-old, have been a citizen for nine years and they serve six-year terms.

All the rest of the requirements are the same

In both the house and the senate

In both the House and the Senate…

  • There are no term limits

    • The longest-serving Senator in history was Robert Byrd, who served for over 51 years

    • Longest serving Representative is John Dingell who has been representing Michigan’s 15th district for 58 years

  • You don’t have to be born in the United States

    • Eleven current members of Congress were born somewhere else, including Cuba, Pakistan and Japan

The representative for los alamitos looks like this

The Representative for Los Alamitos looks like this:

  • Alan Lowenthal

  • Democrat

  • In office since January 2013

The 47 th district that we re currently in looks like this

The 47th District that we’re currently in looks like this:

The districts for the state of california look like this

The districts for the state of California look like this:

California s two senators are

California’s two Senators are…

Barbara Boxer


20 years in office

Dianne Feinstein


21 years in office

Keep in mind

Keep in mind:

When laws and the Constitution come into conflict, the Constitution reigns supreme.

The Legislative Branch cannot make laws that go against the Constitution. The Constitution sets the boundaries in which laws passed must stay. If Congress passes a law that goes out of those boundaries, it’s the job of the Supreme Court to rule it unconstitutional.

I notes legislative branch


1. Also called Congress, their job is to make laws

2. Made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate

3. Every state gets two Senators but Representatives varies by population

4. You must be 25-years-old to be a Representative and 30 to be a Senator

5. Senators serve six year terms and Representatives serve two-year terms

How laws are made

How Laws are Made

The constitution

  • The Legislative Branch makes laws

  • The Legislative Branch is also known as Congress.

  • When they meet it looks like this:

The constitution

  • There are two parts to Congress: The House of Representatives and the Senate

  • They vote upon and debate about bills. Bills look like this:

  • OK, not exactly, but you get the idea

  • A bill is a proposed law.

The constitution

In order for a bill to become a law, three things have to happen:

  • A majority (more than half) of the House of Representatives must vote YES on it.

  • A majority of the Senate must vote YES on it.

  • The President must agree with it and sign it into law.

The constitution



House gets a majority

Senate gets a majority

The President signs it


What if the president doesn t sign it


  • If the President doesn’t like a bill, he VETOES it.

    A VETO is a check the Executive Branch has over the Legislative Branch.


The constitution

  • If a President could stop any law they wanted with his or her veto, it would make the President too powerful, like one of these…

    So, Congress can override a veto, but it won’t be easy…

Here s how congress can override a veto


Instead of needing a simple majority (more than half), if the President vetoes a bill Congress needs 2/3 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate to turn the bill into a law.

A veto raises the bar to pass a law


If the President agrees with both parts of Congress, a majority in Congress passes the law. If the President disagrees, it gets harder.

2/3 majority


The constitution

A veto is a check the President has over Congress. It doesn’t automatically stop a bill from becoming a law, but rather makes it harder for Congress to pass the bill. Overriding a veto is a check Congress has on the President. It assures that even though the President is powerful, if the will in Congress is strong enough, they can go against his wishes.

Notes on how a law is passed


  • Congress=lawmakers

  • Once both parts of Congress pass a bill it goes to the President

  • The President has two choices: Sign it or Veto it

  • If vetoed two-thirds of each part of Congress is needed for it to become law

  • Laws still have to be Constitutional

Moving on

Moving on…

Article Two: The Executive Branch

The executive branch

The Executive Branch

The executive Branch is headed by the President of the United States. Can you name them?

To be president you must

To be President, you must…

Be at least 35-years-old

Have been born in the united states

Have been born in the United States

Have been a resident for 14 years

Have been a resident for 14 years

The constitution

Terms and years

The term for a President is four years, and unlike Congressman, Presidents have term limits, as they can only serve two terms.

Originally, this was just a tradition or precedent set by Washington, but eventually it was added to the Constitution with the 22nd Amendment.

Some notable presidents

Some notable Presidents…

Youngest: Teddy Roosevelt, 42-years-old

Oldest: Ronald Reagan, 77-years-old

The constitution

Longest serving: Franklin Roosevelt,

12 years

Shortest serving: William Henry Harrison,

32 days

The constitution

Largest President: William

Howard Taft, 320 lbs

Smallest President: James Madison, about 100 lbs

Only president to resign from office

Only President to resign from office…

Nixon, 1974

Presidents that have been assassinated

Presidents that have been assassinated





If something happens to the president here is the order of succession

If something happens to the President, here is the order of succession:

Secretary of Commerce

Secretary of Labor

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Secretary of Transportation

Secretary of Energy

Secretary of Education

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Secretary of Homeland Security

The Vice President

Speaker of the House

President pro tempore of the Senate1

Secretary of State

Secretary of the Treasury

Secretary of Defense

Attorney General

Secretary of the Interior

Secretary of Agriculture

The constitution

The job of the President is to enforce the laws. In other words, they are to make sure that the laws passed by Congress and the rulings of the courts are carried through.

The constitution

Example: 1963

Alabama Governor George Wallace was defying the Supreme Court’s order to integrate the University of Alabama and let African-American students enroll, so…

Alabama Governor George Wallace who had been defying it.

National Guard sent by President Kennedy to enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The constitution

The President gets the final say on decisions in times of war: who to attack, when to attack them, where to deploy troops, when to bring troops home and so forth. He relies upon his Secretary of Defense and Chiefs of Staff for advice. Congress, however, declares war and determines funding.

The President also has a military title: Commander-in-Chief

Chiefs of Staff

The constitution

Presidents also sign treaties and agreements with other countries. Here, President Reagan is shown in 1987 with Soviet Premier Gorbachev.

Ii notes on the executive branch


1. The Executive Branch consists of the President and Vice-President

2. Their job is to enforce the Constitution

3. President and VP get elected as a package called a “ticket”

4. Serve four-year-term and have a two-term limit.

5. POTUS’ jobs include foreign policy, encouraging a domestic agenda and being the final stage in the law-making process

The constitution

Presidents are elected to four year terms and can only be elected twice.

They are elected by a system called the…

Electoral College

Col lege noun


  • A higher educational establishment

  • An organized group of professional people with aims, goals, duties and privileges.

The constitution

Each state is in charge of how they award their own electoral votes. In every state besides Nebraska and Maine, the candidate that wins the state wins ALL of the electoral votes for the state. This is called “winner-take-all”

The number of electoral votes per state is determined by their number of Representatives plus the number of Senators.


+ Senators

Electoral Votes

The constitution


There are actual people, called electors, that each state chooses by whatever method they want. Those electors are entrusted to fulfill or represent the will of the voters in their state.

Though the presidential election happens in late November, the electors meet several weeks later to cast their ballots and submit them.

They are expected to fulfill the will of the voters in their state according to their state law.

For instance

For instance…

  • California: 53 Representatives + 2 Senators= 55 Electoral Votes

  • Texas: 32 Reps + 2 Senators= 34 Electoral Votes

  • Alaska: 1 Representative + 2 Senators= 3 Electoral Votes

    So, if a presidential candidate was to win all three states, they would get all 92 electoral votes.

The constitution

Currently, there are 538 electoral votes available and 270 needed to win the Presidency. That’s just over half.

Because the President is determined by electoral votes and NOT TOTAL POPULAR VOTES, it is possible to get more total votes and still losea Presidential election.

This has happened four times: 1824 (JQ Adams over Jackson), 1876 (Hayes over Tilden), 1888 (Harrison over Cleveland) and 2000 (Bush over Gore)

So let s think like a presidential candidate where would you campaign

So, let’s think like a presidential candidate—where would you campaign?

Hey let s watch a video on it

Hey! Let’s watch a video on it!

Electoral College explained!

Here is the electoral map from the 2012 election

Here is the electoral map from the 2012 Election

Here is the electoral map from the 1952 election

Here is the electoral map from the 1952 Election

Have you been watching closely

Have you been watching closely?


The constitution


  • The Presidency is determined by the winner of the electoral vote

  • Each state has a different number of electoral votes available, based upon their population

  • All states but Nebraska and Maine are winner-take-all states, meaning that winning by even 1% means you get all of that state’s electoral votes

  • The candidate that gets the majority (over 270) of electoral votes wins.

The legislative branch and the executive branch

The Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch

AKA Congress and

the President

Work together to pass laws. Here’s how…

The constitution

Once a bill becomes a law, the only branch that can overturn it is the…

Article three

Article Three

Judicial Branch

The judicial branch

The Judicial Branch

The job of the Judicial Branch is to interpret the law and make sure laws and the Constitution are being properly applied.

This process is called “judicial review”

Where the Supreme Court meets

The supreme court

The Supreme Court

The highest court is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court consists of nine judges, called “justices”

Justices are appointed by the President, but have to be confirmed (agreed upon) by the Senate



If you are appointed to the Supreme Court, there are no term limits, no residency requirements and no age limits.


The constitution

Unlike members of Congress or the President, justices aren’t supposed to represent a group. Rather, they’re supposed to interpret the Constitution making sure that it is followed.

If Supreme Court justices were up for re-election or re-appointment, they might try to do what was popular or would get them re-appointed, instead of what was Constitutional.

Supreme Court judges don’t have to worry that an unpopular decision will cost them their jobs.

The constitution

A President getting to appoint a new justice is significant because whomever they appoint will likely be a member of the Supreme Court long after the President that appointed them is out of power.

80 of the 112 justices that have served have done so for more than eight years.

Currently on the court are two appointees of President Reagan, two of President Obama, two of President George W. Bush, one of President Bush Sr. and two of President Clinton.

Here is our current supreme court

Here is our current Supreme Court













The constitution

The main job of the Judicial branch is to make sure the actions of the government are Constitutional. If they are not, the Supreme Court rules them


and they must stop immediately.

The constitution

The Supreme Court ruling that something is unconstitutional is extremely significant because of its permanence—there is no higher court or person to whom the ruling can be appealed.

The only way work around a ruling of unconstitutional is to begin the extremely difficult task of trying to amend the Constitution itself to include the idea. If it’s in the Constitution it *can’t* be unconstitutional.

The constitution

Keep in mind the concept of checks and balances and how the three branches interact as it comes to the Judicial Branch…

The constitution







The constitution


  • The Judicial Branch’s job is to interpret and apply the law

  • There are nine judges—called justices—on the supreme court

  • Supreme Court justices are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate

  • There are no requirements to be a justice and no term limits; they are there for life

  • If the SCOTUS says a law does not comply with the Constitution, it is called unconstitutional

Amending the constitution

Amending the Constitution

First off what does the word amend mean

First off, what does the word “amend” mean?

  • AMEND (verb): 1. to put right, 2. to change or modify for the better

What is a constitutional amendment

What is a Constitutional Amendment?

A Constitutional Amendment is a change or alteration made to the Constitution usually to improve it or clarify its meaning.

The constitution

“In framing a system we wish to last for ages, we must keep mind of the changes the ages will produce.”

In other words, the people that wrote the Constitution were aware that in order for it to stand the test of time, it had to have the ability to change along with country’s needs and wants.

As James Madison said at the Constitutional Convention...

The constitution

So, an amendment to the Constitution is a change or alteration made to the Constitution for the better.

Some things to remember

Some things to remember…

  • The Bill of Rights is only the first ten amendments that were demanded by Antifederalists before they would ratify the Constitution

  • There have been 17 other Amendments ratified in American History

  • Amendments are much more important and permanent than laws. Here’s why…

The constitution

Amendments are changes to the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. Amendments CANNOT be unconstitutional because once ratified they are a PART OF the Constitution. Because they are a change to the Constitution—not just a law that can be vetoed, repealed, expire or ruled Unconstitutional—is MUCH more difficult to create a new amendment than a law.

Think of it like this

Think of it like this…

A law is like an Etch-a-Sketch drawing; relatively easy to make and easily erased

An Amendment is like a tattoo; harder and more difficult to do and much more permanent.

So how is an amendment made

So, how is an amendment made?

There are two ways, but only one has ever been used, and it has two steps…

The constitution

Step One: 2/3 of the House of Representatives and 2/3 of the Senate approve and send it to the states…

Step two 3 4 of the states approve and the amendment goes into the constitution

Step Two: 3/4 of the states approve and the amendment goes into the Constitution

The constitution

Maybe this will help…

The constitution

2/3 of the Senate approves

2/3 of the House approves


¾of the states approve

The constitution

However, this has NEVERhappened

The other way an amendment can be made is by 2/3 of the state legislatures approving and then sending them to state or national conventions for 3/4 approval.

In other words, having a similar process but the amendment is proposed at the state level instead of by a Congressman.

The constitution


The constitution

Because amendments are so hard to get passed, only 17 of them (not including the Bill of Rights) have ever been passed.

Over 11,000 have been proposed by members of Congress, however.

This means that approximately 1 out of every 400 proposed amendments has actually been ratified and made it into the Constitution.

Some proposed amendments that have failed over the years include

Some proposed amendments that have failed over the years include…

Balanced budget amendment

Abolishing the death penalty

Ban on Abortion

Eliminating natural birth requirement to be President

Terms limits on Congressman

Abolishing the electoral system

The banning of flag burning

The constitution


  • An amendment=a change to the Constitution

  • Amendments can’t be ruled unconstitutional because they are *in* the Constitution

  • It takes 2/3 of each branch of Congress and three-fourths of the states to pass an amendment

  • Amendments are much more permanent than laws—they don’t expire and require another amendment to overturn them.

The bill of rights

The Bill of Rights

What is the purpose

What is the purpose?

The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to clarify some of the most important rights that citizens of the United States have. These rights are supposed to be protected from government interference.

What is it?

The Bill of Rights is simply the first ten amendments to the Constitution, ratified in 1791. Though there have been 27 Amendments passed in American history, only the first ten make up the Bill of Rights.

How did it come to be included

How did it come to be included?

When the Constitution was being agreed upon by the states (ratified) many Antifederalists were concerned that the Constitution didn’t clearly state the rights retained by the people, so as a condition of ratifying the Constitution, Federalists agreed to include a Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights was written mainly by James Madison. Some Federalists like Hamilton voiced concerns that a Bill of Rights might imply that these were the *only* rights people had.

First amendment

First Amendment

Freedom of Expression

First amendment1

First Amendment

  • Guarantees the freedom of expression, specifically as it applies to:

  • Religion, Speech, Press, Petition, Assembly

  • When it comes to religion, the government is neither to establish any kind of official religion nor are they supposed to prohibit the free exercise of religion.

  • Protected expression can be symbolic as well—the way someone dresses, a sign they may hold in protest, etc.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Second amendment

Second Amendment

Right to Bare Arms

Second amendment1

Second Amendment

Guarantees the rights of the people to keep guns and arm themselves. This is a response to efforts of the British to take weapons belonging to militia and minutemen prior to the Revolution (think Lexington and Concord).

Though there are some legal limitations required in certain areas—i.e. waiting periods, background checks, gun locks, etc.—the rights of the people to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed.

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Third amendment

Third Amendment

Quartering of Troops

Third amendment1

Third Amendment

A direct response to the Quartering Act, the Third Amendment prohibits the government from forcing citizens to be responsible for the housing of troops in an arbitrary and unlawful way.

“No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

Fourth amendment

Fourth Amendment

Search and Seizure

Fourth amendment1

Fourth Amendment

This protects people and their property from being searched by the government without a warrant. Additionally, it says that warrants should only be issues if there is probable cause and must describe the exact place that the authorities need to search and exactly for what it is that they are looking.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Fifth amendment

Fifth Amendment

Rights of people accused of crimes

Fifth amendment1

Fifth Amendment

This states that a grand jury has to find that there is a good reason to bring charges against you, with the exception of some circumstances in the military. It also prohibits “double jeopardy”, which is being tried a second time for a specific crime in which a jury already reached a not-guilty verdict. Additionally, it states that you don’t have to be a witness against yourself if you don’t want to be (“pleading the 5th”), and lastly it specifies that all citizens deserve fair treatment by the law and cannot lose their property unless they are paid fairly for it.

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

Sixth amendment

Sixth Amendment

Right to a Speedy Public Trial

Sixth amendment1

Sixth Amendment

Guarantees the right to have a trial that is made public, takes place in the area the crime was committed, to be told what you are being accused of and have a right to question witnesses against you and bring witnesses in your favor. Lastly, it guarantees the rights of someone accused of a crime to have a lawyer.

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

Seventh amendment

Seventh Amendment

Trial by Jury in Civil Cases

Seventh amendment1

Seventh Amendment

This guarantees the defendant in a civil case to have a trial in front of a jury as opposed to having a single judge make a ruling. The $20 amount has been changed to $400 in most states for one to request a jury.

“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.”

Eighth amendment

Eighth Amendment

No Cruel or Unusual Punishment

Eighth amendment1

Eighth Amendment

Protects someone found guilty of a crime of being punished excessively by disproportionately large bail, or cruel or bizarre punishments.

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Ninth amendment

Ninth Amendment

Rights of the Individual

Ninth amendment1

Ninth Amendment

This simply means that you have lots of rights that aren’t listed in the Bill of Rights. You have all kinds of rights—to have kids, make dinner, cut your hair, etc.—that aren’t listed in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the beginning of your rights, not the end of it. These ten amendments are those that Antifederalists felt needed to be clarified.

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Tenth amendment

Tenth Amendment

Rights of the States

Tenth amendment1

Tenth Amendment

This relates to Federalism. It specifies that unless a power is specified in the Constitution to be for the Federal government, it belongs to the states.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The constitution

What fraction of the House and Senate are needed to propose an amendment?

What fraction of the states are needed to approve it?

How many amendments are in the Bill of Rights?

Which amendment protects freedom of speech?

Which amendment was in response the Quartering Act

If you are found guilty of a crime, what does the 8th Amendment protect you against?

Which amendment guarantees you the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney?

Limits on government power

Limits on Government power

The constitution

Remember the idea of creating a strong but limited government? Though the Constitution greatly expanded the power of the federal government, it also built in some clever ways to make sure that the power of the federal government would be restrained. Here are a few…

Federalism guarantees power is shared between the national government and the states

Federalismguarantees power is shared between the national government and the states

Separation of powers guarantees no one part of the national government is too strong

Separation of Powersguarantees no one part of the national government is too strong

Frequent elections guarantee the people are governed by those they have recently chosen

Frequent electionsguarantee the people are governed by those they have recently chosen

  • Representatives every two years

  • Senators every six years

  • President every four years

Term limits guarantee one person will never be president for too long

Term Limitsguarantee one person will never be President for too long

Independent judiciary guarantees the supreme court can make unpopular but fair decisions

Independent Judiciaryguarantees the Supreme Court can make unpopular but fair decisions




Checks and balances allow each branch to limit the power of one another

Checks and Balances allow each branch to limit the power of one another




The constitution

The Supreme Court


The constitution






Impeachment process of trying to remove a president from office

IMPEACHMENT=process of trying to remove a President from office

Reasons for removal are treason, bribery and other serious crimes

House of Representatives brings charges against the President

Senate hears evidence.

2/3 majority of Senate

removes the President

from office.

The bill of rights lists the most important rights retained by citizens

The Bill of Rightslists the most important rights retained by citizens

Protects the government from interfering in citizens rights to free speech, religion, press, own guns, privacy, have a fair trial, avoid cruel or unusual punishment, etc.

Notes on limiting government


  • Madison and the other founders set out to make a strong but limited government.

  • Though a powerful central government is necessary, constraints on centralized power are also important

  • Concepts like federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, frequent elections, term limits, independent judiciary and a bill of rights are designed to limit the scope of federal power

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