Citizenship handbook
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Citizenship Handbook. Understanding our Government. Part 1: Ideas Behind the Constitution. Ancient Rome Republic Government in which citizens rule themselves through elected representatives Dictatorship Government in which one person or a small group holds complete authority

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Citizenship handbook

Citizenship Handbook

Understanding our Government


Part 1 ideas behind the constitution

Part 1: Ideas Behind the Constitution

  • Ancient Rome

    • Republic

      • Government in which citizens rule themselves through elected representatives

    • Dictatorship

      • Government in which one person or a small group holds complete authority

    • Plan of the Framers

      • They hoped to emulate the Roman Republic

        • People willing to serve in public office

        • The people serving do so for the good of the country

      • Planned to avoid a dictatorship

        • Roman Republic faltered when citizens began to value comfort and luxury more than freedom and public service

          • They planned to build a system where informed, independent citizens play an active role


Part 1 ideas behind the constitution1

Part 1: Ideas Behind the Constitution

  • Two Historic Documents

    • Magna Carta

      • British Nobles forced King John to sign this in 1215

    • English Bill of Rights

      • Issued by Queen Mary in 1689

    • How these documents affected us?

      • They created an English tradition of liberty

      • They provided some principles which we put into our own government

        • Citizens have rights which government must protect

        • Even the head of government must obey the law

        • Taxes cannot be raised without the consent of the people

        • Elections should be held frequently

        • Right to trial by jury and habeas corpus

        • People have the right to private property


Part 1 ideas behind the constitution2

Part 1: Ideas Behind the Constitution

  • Teachings of the Enlightenment

    • John Locke

      • People have natural rights – life, liberty, property

      • Government exists to protect those rights

      • If government fails – the people have a right to rebel

    • Montesquieu

      • Separation of powers

        • Powers of government should be divided between three branches

  • Representative Traditions & The Declaration

    • From early on all the colonies had some government

      • House of burgesses, mayflower compact, written charter that defined powers of their government

    • Jefferson called on these when writing the declaration

      • He used the ‘violations’ to create a list of grievances


Part 2 structure of the constitution

Part 2: Structure of the Constitution

  • Three Parts

    • Preamble

      • Outlines 6 basic goals for the new government (see page 254)

        • Defense, Welfare, Tranquility, Justice, Union, Liberty

    • Articles

      • There are 7 of them

      • The establish the framework for the whole government

        • 1-3 establish the 3 branches

        • 4 deals with relations between states

        • 5 tells how to change the constitution

        • 6 Constitution is top dog!

        • 7 how to ratify

    • Amendments

      • There are 27 of them – these are official changes to the Constitution


Part 3 principles of the constitution

Part 3: Principles of the Constitution

  • Popular Sovereignty

    • The people give the power to the government

  • Limited Government

    • Government has only the powers that the Constitution gives it

  • Separation of powers

    • Further limits the government – one branch has its own duties

    • They cant do the job of another branch – nobody can become too strong

      • Page 256 diagram

  • Checks and Balances

    • Each branch of government can limit the power of the other 2

      • Page 257 diagram


Part 3 principles of the constitution1

Part 3: Principles of the Constitution

  • Federalism

    • Power is divided between the federal government and the state governments

  • Republicanism

    • We elect people to represent us in government

  • Individual Rights

    • Government protects our individual freedoms


Part 4 the legislative branch

Part 4: The Legislative Branch

  • The Senate

    • Based on equal representation (2 senators from each state)

      • They serve 6 year terms

  • The House

    • Based on proportionate representation (435 total)

      • Elected for 2 year terms

  • Power of Congress

    • They make the laws

      • Introduce a bill which is a proposal

      • The bill is debated on, changed, amended, and voted on

      • When it passes one of the houses – it is sent to the other

      • When it passes both houses – it goes to the president for approval

  • Congressional Committees

    • Special groups that focus on different issues (education, defense, transportation etc.)


Part 5 executive branch

Part 5: Executive Branch

  • Powers of the President

    • Make appointments

    • Commander in chief

    • Veto bills

    • Negotiate treaties

    • Propose laws……

    • Grant pardons

    • Direct government policy

  • Electing the President

    • It’s a complex system for a simple process

      • Voters do not actually vote for the ‘president’

        • They vote for a group of chosen electors who pledge to cast their vote for that candidate

      • States get votes according to their population (equal to the number of senators and reps a state has)


Part 6 the judicial branch

Part 6: The Judicial Branch

  • Courts

    • Lower Courts

      • District and appeals courts hear cases

      • Jurisdiction

        • Power to hear and decide a case

      • Appeal

        • Ask that a decision be reviewed by a higher court

    • Supreme Court

      • Justices appointed by the president and approved by conress

      • Their job is to review laws and lower court cases

        • They are the last and highest court in the land

    • Judicial Review

      • The Supreme Court can declare laws to be unconstitutional

        • This is their check/balance


Part 7 amending the constitution

Part 7: Amending the Constitution

  • Article V of the Constitution

    • Allows ways to Amend or ‘change’

    • Proposing and Amendment

      • Congress can propose an amendment if:

        • Both the house and the senate vote for a change

          • All 27 amendments have been done this way

      • States can propose an amendment

        • 34 states must call for a national convention and formally propose an amendment

    • Ratifying

      • To become a change the proposal must be approved by the states

      • Two ways

        • 38 state legislatures pass it (75%)

        • State conventions can pass it (special meetings to discuss an issue)

          • Only the 21st was passed this way


Part 7 amending the constitution1

Part 7: Amending the Constitution

  • The Bill of Rights

    • Since the Constitution controls how government works people wanted to make sure that there was a way to protect their rights

    • The bill of rights was added after the constitution was ratified

    • It contains 10 amendments

      • These protect the rights of individuals and states from government abuses


Part 8 the first amendment

Part 8: The First Amendment

  • Freedom of Religion

    • Ability to choose, follow, and create religions

  • Freedom of Speech

    • You can speak your mind in our country

  • Freedom of Assembly

    • Peacefully assemble in protest or support of a cause

  • Freedom of the Press

    • Press has a right and RESPONSIBILITY to report the TRUTH!

    • Know libel, censorship, and dissent


Part 9 state and local governments

Part 9: State and Local Governments

  • States resemble the Federal government

    • Divided into three branches (L-E-J)

      • Governor is the executive

    • State Services

      • Law enforcement, transportation, parks, schools

    • Local Governments

      • City Council and Mayor

        • Most $$$ in a community is spent on education

        • Local governments interact with us daily

          • Firefighters, police officers, city workers etc.


Part 10 rights and responsibilities

Part 10: Rights and Responsibilities

  • Becoming and American Citizen

    • Must fulfill one of the following 3 requirements

      • Born in the U.S. or have a parent as a U.S. Citizen

      • Naturalized

      • Be 18 or younger when your parents were naturalized

    • Becoming naturalized

      • Live legally in the U.S. for 5 years

      • Apply for citizenship

      • Take a citizenship examination and go through interviews

      • Take a citizenship oath before a judge


Part 10 rights and responsibilities1

Part 10: Rights and Responsibilities

  • Rights of Citizens

    • You have all the rights guaranteed in the constitution

    • The right to further protection from established laws

  • Responsibilities of Citizens

    • You MUST

      • Obey state, federal, and local laws

      • Pay your fair share of taxes

      • Serve on juries if called

      • Defend the nation if called

    • You should

      • Vote

      • Stay informed

      • Serve the community

      • Help create a just society


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