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U.S. Constitution Notes. Brief History of the U.S. Started as British trade settlement 13 colonies created to grow/produce goods for British Empire. Britain is broke; Colonists forced to begin paying taxes.

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Brief history of the u s
Brief History of the U.S.

  • Started as British trade settlement

  • 13 colonies created to grow/produce goods for British Empire.

  • Britain is broke; Colonists forced to begin paying taxes.

  • Other individual rights are suspended; small group of colonists begin discussing rebellion.

Brief history of the u s1
Brief History of the U.S.


  • Colonies declare independence on July 4, 1776.

  • Britain surrenders war in 1781 due to lack of money/interest.

  • U.S. is created; Articles of Confederation used as new gov’t.

  • Constitution is written when Articles fail; adopted in 1787

  • Current capital is Washington D.C. (Maryland)


Legislative branch
Legislative Branch

  • 1st of 3 branches of U.S. gov’t.

  • Main duty of this branch: Make laws.

  • Branch is made up of 2 houses:

    • House of Representatives

    • Senate

  • House has 435 members; at least 1 from each state.

  • Senate has 100 members; 2 from each state.

House of representatives
House of Representatives

  • Has 435 members.

  • Each state sends at least 1 representative to Washington D.C.

  • House of Representatives is based on population of each state.

  • “Reps” are elected by people from their represented district within the state.

    • Aaron Schock – 18th District

House of representatives1
House of Representatives

  • House members serve a 2 year term of office; can be re-elected an unlimited number of times.

  • Reps earn $174,000 a year.

  • House is divided among majority and minority parties.

  • House Majority/Minority leaders earn $193,400 a year.

  • Speaker of the House earns $223,500 a year.

Homework 1 8 23 2012
Homework #1 – 8/23/2012

  • What date did U.S. declare independence from Britain?

  • What are the titles of the two houses in the legislative branch?

  • What is the main job of the legislative branch?

  • How many members are in the House of Representatives?

  • How long is the term of office for a member of the House of Representatives?


  • Senate has 100 total members.

  • Each state is guaranteed 2 Senators per state.

  • Senators serve a 6 yr. term.

  • Can be re-elected an unlimited number of times.


  • Senators make $174,000 per year of their term.

  • Like House, Senate has majority/minority parties.

  • Senate Majority/Minority party leaders make $193,400 per year.

  • Senate representation is based on equality, not population.

Misc legislative branch
Misc. Legislative Branch

  • Requirements for being member of House:

    • 25 yrs. old

    • Citizen of U.S. for 7 yrs.

    • Live in representing state

  • Requirements for being member of Senate:

    • 30 yrs. old

    • Citizen of U.S. for 9 yrs.

    • Live in representing state

Misc jobs of leg branch
Misc. Jobs of Leg. Branch

  • Senate:

    • Leader of Senate is Vice President.

    • Approves treaties made by President.

    • Serves as jury in impeachment cases.

    • Approves appointments made by President.

  • House:

    • Leader of House is Speaker of House (Majority Party leader).

    • All revenue bills start in House.

    • Sole power of impeachment.

Homework 2 8 28 2012
Homework #2 – 8/28/2012

  • How long is a Senator’s term of office?

  • How many Senators are in the Senate?

  • How old must a Representative be?

  • Who serves as a jury in impeachment cases?

  • Where must both Senators and Reps live in order to be elected?

  • Who has sole power of impeachment?

  • How old must a Senator be?

Executive branch
Executive Branch

  • 2nd of 3 branches of gov’t.

  • Main job: Enforce laws.

  • Head of the executive branch is the President.

  • Presidents serve a 4 year term.

  • Presidents can serve 2 terms or 10 yrs. total.

Executive branch1
Executive Branch

  • Inauguration (takes office) happens every January 20 following the election.

  • Makes $400,000 per year of term.

  • President serves as Commander-in-Chief for military forces.

  • President can NOT declare war on any country.

    • Congress (House/Senate) declares war.

Executive branch2
Executive Branch

  • Requirements to be President:

    • 35 yrs. old

    • Resident of the U.S. for at least 14 yrs.

    • Natural born citizen

  • Line of succession for the Presidency is:

    • Vice President

    • Speaker of the House

    • President Pro Tempore (Senate)

    • Cabinet, starting with Sec. of State.

Is this fair? Should it be changed?

Why is this necessary?

President s cabinet
President’s Cabinet

  • 15 cabinet positions appointed by the President.

  • Cabinet positions to know:

    • Sec. of State – Manages foreign affairs.

    • Sec. of Energy – Manages U.S. Energy Policy.

    • Sec. of Agriculture – Manages farm programs.

    • Sec. of Transportation – Manages nation’s highway system.

    • Sec. of Defense – Manages U.S. wars.

    • Sec. of Labor – Manages labor issues.

Judicial branch
Judicial Branch

  • 3rd of 3 branches of gov’t.

  • Main job: Judge/interpret law

  • Highest court in the U.S. is the Supreme Court

  • Chief officer of the Supreme Court is Chief Justice

Judicial branch1
Judicial Branch

  • Order of the federal court system:

    • District

    • Appellate

    • Supreme

  • Federal judges are appointed by President w/ approval from Senate.

  • Federal judges serve on the bench for life or retirement (can be impeached).

Judicial branch2
Judicial Branch

  • Qualifications for being federal judge:

    • Legal U.S. Citizen

    • Appointed by President

  • 3 judges serve on each U.S. Court of Appeals (12 total).

  • Court of Appeals hears appeals cases from lower courts.

    • No witnesses, evidence, or statements given.

    • Lawyers from both sides state their case and the court then rules.

Judicial branch3
Judicial Branch

  • U.S. Supreme Court hears the following cases:

    • Appeals cases from lower courts (Appellate, District)

    • Appeals cases from state supreme courts

    • Violation of rights cases

  • Like Appellate court, lawyers give statements about case and then the justices rule on case.

  • 9 justices serve on U.S. Supreme Court

Why this number?

Judicial branch4
Judicial Branch

  • Supreme Court justices earn $213,900 per year.

  • Chief Justice earns $223,500 per year.

Homework 3 8 31 2012
Homework #3 – 8/31/2012

  • What is the main job of the executive branch?

  • Who is the Commander-in-Chief of the military?

  • Who has the power to declare war in the U.S.?

  • Who manages the U.S. wars?

  • What is the main job of the judicial branch?

  • How old do federal judges have to be?

  • Why are there 9 justices on the Supreme Court?



House of Rep.





1. Sign Bill


2. Veto Bill

3. Ignore bill 10 days; automatically becomes law.

Pocket Veto – Congress adjourns before 10 day window expires, vetoing bill.

Senate Committee

House Committee


Lawmaking Process


Homework 4 9 3 2012
Homework #4 – 9/3/2012

  • Is a bill a law? Define what a bill is.

  • Before reaching the House or Senate floor, where do bills start?

  • How much of a vote is needed to pass a bill in the House or Senate?

  • What are the three options the President has once a bill reaches his desk?

  • How much of a vote is needed to overturn a veto in both houses?

Preamble of the constitution
Preamble of the Constitution

  • After several years of independence, Articles of Confederation seen as weak.

  • Some of the weaknesses were:

    • No national court; only state courts.

    • No power to tax.

    • Any changes had to be approved by all states.

    • Any important laws had to be approved by 9 states.

    • No real president, just chairman of Congress.

Preamble of the constitution1
Preamble of the Constitution

  • The Preamble of the Constitution lists the 6 goals of the document.

    “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 the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Preamble of the constitution2
Preamble of the Constitution

  • “Form a more perfect union”

    • Create a country better than the existing one.

  • “Establish justice”

    • Create a system of laws for EVERYONE.

  • “Insure domestic tranquility”

    • Assuring the country stays peaceful through justice.

Preamble of the constitution3
Preamble of the Constitution

  • “Provide for the common defense”

    • Creating a military to protect the country.

  • “Promote the general welfare”

    • Creating a sense of happiness, safety, and prosperity.

  • “Secure the blessings of liberty”

    • Protecting the rights given to U.S. citizens.

Bill of rights
Bill of Rights

  • Constitution has Amendments section; first 10 are called the Bill of Rights.

  • Bill of Rights were written into Constitution to protect citizen’s rights.

  • Rights were written into Constitution instead of being an “understood agreement”.

  • These rights ensure the gov’t can’t abuse people’s personal rights.

Bill of rights1
Bill of Rights

  • Freedom of:

    • Religion

    • Press

    • Petition

    • Assembly

    • Speech

  • Freedom to bear arms

    • Right to own firearms

Bill of rights2
Bill of Rights

  • Freedom from quartering soldiers w/o permission.

    • Soldiers can’t stay in your house w/o you saying yes.

  • Freedom from unreasonable search & seizing of property.

    • Gov’t must have warrant to search or take property.

  • Freedom from self-incrimination.

    • Right to avoid answering questions that could make you appear guilty in court.

Bill of rights3
Bill of Rights

  • Freedom to a fair & speedy trial by impartial jury.

    • Appear in court to face charges with a jury that is unbiased.

  • Freedom to trial by jury in civil cases totaling $20 or more.

    • Right to avoid judges ruling on civil cases.

  • Freedom from cruel & unusual punishment and reasonable bail.

    • Punishments & bail must fit crime.

  • Bill of rights4
    Bill of Rights

    • All rights written in Constitution are guaranteed to citizens.

    • Any rights not given to U.S. or State gov’t are guaranteed to citizens.

    Homework 5 9 13 2012
    Homework #5 – 9/13/2012

    • How many goals are listed in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution?

    • What was the previous form of government used before the Constitution was written?

    • What amendment gives people the freedom from unreasonable searches & seizing of property?

    • What amendment gives people the freedom to peacefully assemble and petition their government?

    • What amendment gives people the freedom from cruel & unusual punishment?