Six Basic Principles of the U.S. Constitution
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Six Basic Principles of the U.S. Constitution. AMERICAN GOVERNMENT. AN OUTLINE OF THE CONSTITUTION. Brief document – 7,000+ words Text of the Constitution p. 758 Not weighted down with detailed and cumbersome provisions Preamble—Introduction Articles—7 numbered sections

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An outline of the constitution
AN OUTLINE OF THE CONSTITUTION

  • Brief document – 7,000+ words

  • Text of the Constitution p. 758

  • Not weighted down with detailed and cumbersome provisions

  • Preamble—Introduction

  • Articles—7 numbered sections

  • Articles I-III—branches: I—Legislature; II—Executive; III--Judicial

  • Article IV—Place of the states in the American Union and their relationship with the National Government


  • Article V—how formal amendments may be added

  • Article VI—declares that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land

  • Article VII—provided for the ratification of the Constitution

  • Amendments—27 formal changes to the original document


Overview
OVERVIEW

  • Popular Sovereignty

  • Limited Government

  • Separation of Powers

  • Checks and Balances

  • Judicial Review

  • Federalism


Popular sovereignty
POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY

  • Definitions

  • Sovereign—having supreme power within its own territory; neither subordinate nor responsible to any other authority.

  • Popular sovereignty—Basic principle of the American system of government which asserts that the people are the source of any and all governmental power, and government can exist only with the consent of the governed.


Popular sovereignty1
POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY

  • Constitution begins with “We the People…”

  • People establish government and give it power

  • People are sovereign

  • Government receives power from the people

  • Government can only govern with consent of the people


Limited government
LIMITED GOVERNMENT

  • Government only has as much power as the people give it

  • Constitution contains specific limitations on government power

  • No governments or governmental officials are “above the law”


Separation of powers
SEPARATION OF POWERS

  • Government power is divided

  • Legislative (Congress)

  • Executive (President)

  • Judicial (Supreme Court)

  • Intended to prevent misuse of power by any of the branches of government


Checks and balances
CHECKS AND BALANCES

  • Extends restrictions established by the separation of powers

  • Each branch has the authority to restrain the actions of the other two branches

  • Makes government less efficient

  • Prevents tyranny by one branch


Judicial review
JUDICIAL REVIEW

  • Who decides if an act of government oversteps the limits placed on it by the Constitution?

  • Historically, the federal courts decide

  • Established early in the nation’s history

  • Federal courts have the power to review and to nullify (cancel) any actions that violate some provision of the Constitution.


Federalism
FEDERALISM

  • Federal system divides power between a central government and regional/local governments

  • Federal government needs to be effective but should not threaten the existence of regional governments or peoples’ rights

  • Local governments can deal with local problems as they choose—as long as their actions are constitutional



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