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The U. S. Constitution. Chapter 3. Section 3.1 Basic Principles. Objectives: By the end of this lesson, you will be able to… List and define the five basic principles on which the U.S. Constitution is based.

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The U. S. Constitution

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The U. S. Constitution

Chapter 3

Section 3.1Basic Principles

  • Objectives: By the end of this lesson, you will be able to…

  • List and define the five basic principles on which the U.S. Constitution is based.

  • Discuss and give examples of how the Constitution ensured the people’s authority over government.

  • Provide examples of how the Constitution provides a system of limited government.

  • Describe how the Constitution protects the rights of states.

Section 3.1Basic Principles

  • Define the following terms in your notebook:

    • republicanism

    • popular sovereignty

    • separation of powers

    • checks and balances

    • veto

    • judicial review

    • unconstitutional

Section 3.1Basic Principles

  • The US Constitution limits and defines the powers of our government.

  • It is based on five main principles

    • 1. popular sovereignty

    • 2. limited government

    • 3. separation of powers

    • 4. checks and balances

    • 5. federalism

Section 3.1Basic Principles

  • How does the Constitution ensure the people’s authority over government?

Popular sovereignty

PS means a government authority comes from the… ???

The principle of PS can be found in the Preamble

“We THE PEOPLE of the United States…. Do ordain [order] and establish this Constitution for

the United States of America.”

The Constitution further emphasizes the power of the people by establishing

rules of electing government officials. NO ONE is entitled by birth!

Section 3.1Basic Principles

  • Limited Government

  • How does the Constitution provide for a system of limited government?

    • The Constitution limits government by establishing guidelines for how the government may act.

    • Examples:

      • Article I, Section 8: enumerates the powers of Congress

      • Article I, Section 9: lists powers that the national government DOES NOT have, such as the power to grant titles of nobility.

Section 3.1Basic Principles

In what ways does the Constitution protect the rights of states?

  • The Constitution gives some powers to the national government, and some to the states.

  • The framers of the Constitution wanted to make sure the national government was strong enough to maintain order and keep the country united.

  • The Constitution prohibits states from exercising powers that belong to the national government. For example, states can’t coin money or declare war.

  • Article VI of the Constitution is the “supremacy clause.” It declares that the Constitution (and all federal laws passed under the Constitution, including treaties) to be the “supreme law of the land.”

  • Concurrent powers are those powers shared by both the national and state governments.

Section 3.1Basic Principles

The Constitution prevents the concentration and abuse of power by giving each branch the authority to check, or restrain, the powers of the other two branches.



Section 3.2Amending the Constitution

  • Objectives: By the end of this lesson, you will be able to…

  • Discuss the reasons framers established ways to amend the Constitution.

  • Describe the methods for amending the Constitution.

  • Explain the purpose of the Bill of Rights.

Section 3.2Amending the Constitution

  • Define the following terms in your notebook:

    • amendment

    • repeal

    • Bill of Rights

  • Bob Dylan, one of America’s best known songwriters, wrote songs in the 1960s that illuminated the political and social issues of the time (ex: the civil rights movement, women’s rights and the war in Vietnam). The Times They Are A-Changin’, recorded in 1964 “captured the spirit of social and political upheaval that characterized the 1960s.”

Come gather ‘round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You’ll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’

Or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’

The Times They Are A-Changin’by Bob Dylan (1964)

Come writers & critics

Who prophesize with your pen

And keep your eyes wide

The chance won’t come again

And don’t speak too soon

For the wheel’s still in spin

And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’

For the loser now

Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’

Verse 2

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside

And it is ragin’

It’ll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’

Verse 3

Come mothers & fathers

Throughout the land

And don’t criticize

What you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters

Are beyond your command

Your old road is

Rapidly agin’

Please get out of the new one

If you can’t lend a hand

For the times

They are a-changin’

Verse 4

The line it is drawn

The curse it is cast

The slow one now

Will later be fast

As the present now

Will later be past

The order is

Rapidly fadin’

And the first one now

Will later be last

For the times

They are a-changin’

Verse 5

  • SG Discussion - Respond to the following questions:

    • What do you think this song is about i.e. what’s going on in this song? (Hint: you may incorporate background information into your answer).

    • In each verse, Dylan is challenging a certain group to change. Analyze each stanza of the song, and identify who and what needs to change.

    • What do you think is the overall message of the songwriter?

    • When might forces (social, political, or economic) produce interest, debate, and perhaps the necessity to change the U.S. Constitution?

Section 3.2Amending the Constitution

Why did the framers establish ways to amend the Constitution?

  • Methods of Amending the Constitution

Article V gives procedures for amending the Constitution

Passing an amendment requires more than a simple majority.

Amending the Constitution is difficult intentionally. The framers didn’t

want to change the Constitution for just any old reason.

1. Proposing Amendments:

Vote in Congress (so far, all amendments have been proposed this way).

Two-thirds of the house (290 votes) and the Senate (67 votes) required

before it can be sent to the states for ratification.

Section 3.2Amending the Constitution

  • 2. National Convention – Congress, at the request of two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures, can call a national convention to propose a Constitutional amendment.

    • While this is sort of cool… it has never happened.

    • Why? Article V does not say whether a convention can be limited to proposing only the amendment it was called to consider. In other words, such a convention could be used to revise (or toss) the entire Constitution.

      • See: The Philadelphia Convention of 1787.

Methods of Proposal

Method 2

By national constitutional convention called by Congress at the request of 2/3 of the state legislatures (34 states)

[This method has never been used]

Method 1

By 2/3 vote in both the House and the Senate

[most common method of proposing an amendment]

Method 1

By 2/3 vote in both the House and the Senate (290 in the House, 67 in the Senate.

This is the most common method of proposing an amendment]


Section 3.2Amending the Constitution

  • Ratifying Amendments – Two methods

1. Legislatures in at least three-fourths (38) of the states must approve an

amendment before it becomes part of the Constitution.

All but one of the Constitution’s amendments have been ratified this way

2. By special convention in at least three-fourths of the states.

The 21st Amendment was ratified this way. It repealed the 18th Amendment

which had outlawed to production, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages.

Methods of Ratification

Method 2

Ratified through conventions in ¾ of the states.

[Only been used once to ratify the 21st Amendment]

Method 1

By legislatures in ¾ of the states (38 states)

[in all but one case, this is how amendments have been ratified]


Section 3.2Amending the Constitution

First Amendment: Freedom of speech, assembly, religion, press, and petition.

  • The 27 Amendments

Second Amendment: The right to keep and bear arms.

Third Amendment: No quartering of troops

Fourth Amendment: Search and seizure; search warrents

Fifth Amendment: Rights of an accused person

Sixth Amendment: Right to a speedy trial

Seventh Amendment: Right to trial by jury

Eighth Amendment: Bails, Fines, and Punishments

Ninth Amedment: Rights of the People

Tenth Amendment: Powers of the States

These 10 Amendments are contained in the Bill of Rights (1791)

Section 3.2Amending the Constitution

The 27 Amendments

Eleventh Amendment: Suits Against States

Twelfth Amendment: Election of the President and Vice President

Thirteenth Amendment: Abolition of Slavery

Fourteenth Amendment: Rigths of Citizens; Privileges and Immunities, Due Process, and Equal Protection

Fifteenth Amendment: Extension of Suffrage to African American Men

Sixteenth Amendment: Income Tax

Seventeenth Amendment: Direct Election of Senators

Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition

Nineteenth Amendment: Extension of Suffrage to Women

Twentieth Amendment: Change in Dates for Presidential and Congressional Terms of Office

Section 3.2Amending the Constitution

The 27 Amendments

Twenty-first Amendment: Repeal of Prohibition

Twenty-second Amendment: Two-Term Limit on Presidential Office

Twenty-third Amendment: Right to Vote in Presidential Election

Twenty-fourth Amendment: Poll Tax Banned in Federal Elections

Twenty-fifth Amendment: Presidential Disability and Succession

Twenty-sixth Amendment: Lowering of Voting Age to 18

Twenty-seventh Amendment: Legislative Salaries

Section 3.3A Flexible Document

Objectives: After completing this lesson, you will be able to…

Explain how the Constitution gives each of the three branches of government flexibility in using its powers.

Discuss how political parties changed the way government operates.

Describe the ways in which the Constitution allows custom and tradition to help shape government.

Section 3.3A Flexible Document

Define the following:

Executive agreement

Political party


Section 3.3A Flexible Document

How does the Constitution give the three branches of government flexibility in using their powers?

Section 3.3A Flexible Document

Government Actions

By reinterpreting their powers, the three branches of government are able to address

issues that face our nation.

Court Decisions

Vague wording in the Constitution allows the courts to apply it to situations that could not have been imagined early on.

Marbury v. Madison (1803) gives the federal court system the power to rule on the

constitutionality of actions taken by the Legislative and Executive branches.

Section 3.3A Flexible Document

Judicial Review

Section 3.3A Flexible Document

Congressional Legislation

Congress passes laws that address new situations.

Congress assumes responsibilities and roles that are allowed by, but not mentioned

in, the Constitution.

Example: Article III, Section I

gives Congress the power to establish

the federal court system below the

Supreme Court. Since the word “establish” is vague, Congress is able to structure these courts in ways that help meet the needs of our nations.

Section 3.3A Flexible Document


Section 3.3A Flexible Document

Other examples:

Congress has passed laws regulating working conditions and wages.

Where does the authority come from?

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to

regulate commerce among the states and with foreign nations.

Congress can regulate interstate commerce and they’ve interpreted this to include

working conditions and wages. for more info

Section 3.3A Flexible Document

Executive Action

Executive Agreements – the president’s power to reach agreements with

foreign counties without the Senate’s approval.

FDR’s Lend – Lease Act

Section 3.3A Flexible Document

How have political parties changed the way government operates?

A political party is an organized group that seeks to win elections in order to

influence the activities of government.

The flexibility of the Constitution allows political parties to influence how the


Political parties play in important role in electing candidates to office and in

organizing the day-to-day operation of Congress.

Section 3.3A Flexible Document

How does the Constitution allow custom and tradition to shape the government?

Customs and traditions are informal, long-established ways of doing things.

Not mentioned in the Constitution

Example: The President’s Cabinet

Section 3.4The Constitution and the Public Good

Objectives: After completing this lesson, you will be able to…

Discuss James Madison’s contribution to the developmentof the U.S. government.

2. List ways the Constitution ensures that government makes laws that promote the public good.

3. Discuss critics’ claims that the Constitution sometimes makes government less effective.

Section 3.4The Constitution and the Public Good

Key Terms:


Section 3.4The Constitution and the Public Good

What were some of james madison’s contributions To the development of the U.S. Government

Federalist Paper #10

Madison argues in favor of the Constitution and a republican form of government. He said that competing interests would prevent any one faction from gaining control of the government.


Constitution feared

that a republic could

fall under the influence

of a faction.

James Madison

Was he correct???

Section 3.4The Constitution and the Public Good

Preventing Control by Factions

I’ll post more notes soon.


Section 3.4The Constitution and the Public Good

Section 3.4The Constitution and the Public Good

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