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The Principles of the United States Constitution. Mr. Cummings. Background to 1787 Convention. Articles of Confederation creates a toothless, ineffective national gov’t High debt, no power to tax or raise army

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The principles of the united states constitution

The Principles of the United States Constitution

Mr. Cummings

Background to 1787 convention
Background to 1787 Convention

  • Articles of Confederation creates a toothless, ineffective national gov’t

    • High debt, no power to tax or raise army

  • Hamilton & Madison press for convention to repair “embarrassments which characterize the present state of our national affairs”

  • Washington agrees to preside only after Shays’s Rebellion

    • Henry Knox’s letter scares states out of their complacency

Philadelphia convention 87
Philadelphia Convention ‘87

  • Created between May 25 – Sept. 17, 1787

  • Intense debate between men w/radically different viewpoints – lawyers, farmers, scientists, plantation owners

  • Issues: How to grant national Sovereignty AND respect State’s Rights; SLAVERY

  • Delegates signed secrecy oath

    • Jefferson, Adams did not attend (out of country)

  • Had no plan but knew what they didn’t want

  • Roger Sherman’s Great Compromise combined Virginia + New Jersey Plans

  • States ratify 1787-1788 but demanded a bill of rights

Organization of constitution
Organization of Constitution

  • Preamble

    • List goals of the gov’t

    • “We the People…”

  • Seven Articles

    • Divides gov’t power

    • Created three branches: Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), Judicial (courts)

    • Each Article divided in Sections + Clauses

    • Can be changed with Amendment

Organization of the branches
Organization of the Branches

  • Executive

    • President, Vice-President

  • Legislative

    • Congress (535)

      • House of Representatives (435)- POPULATION

      • Senate (100)- 2 PER STATE

  • Judicial

    • Supreme Court (9 justices)

Elements protected by the constitution
Elements Protected by the Constitution

  • Popular Sovereignty: the ability for a country to control its own affairs

  • Representative Democracy: people elect leaders to make decisions for them

  • Limited Government

  • Federalism – division of power between State & National Governments

  • Concurrent (Shared) Powers

Elements protected by the constitution1
Elements Protected by the Constitution

  • Separation of Powers

    • No branch holds “too much” power

    • Legislative Branch makes the laws

    • Executive Branch carries out the laws

    • Judicial Branch interprets the laws

Discussion on Branches of Gov’t


How did the lack of a strong central government in the Articles affect the creation of the Constitution in 1788?

Executive branch president
Executive Branch (President)

  • Enforces laws made by Congress

  • Serves TWO 4-year- terms + can hold office for up to 10 years

  • 44 presidents

  • Only “nationally” elected official

Qualifications duties
Qualifications + Duties

  • 35 years old

  • Natural-born citizen living in the US for 14 years

  • Duties have changed over 200 years- Constitution vague on this subject!

Duties of the president
Duties of the President

  • Administrative head of nation

    • Makes important policy decisions

  • Commander-in-Chief

    • Leader of the military in times of war

  • Chief Legislator- vetoes/approves bills

  • Chief of State

    • Meets w/Congress during “State of the Union” or during wartime

  • Chief of Party- becomes head of party

Roots of the office
Roots of the Office

  • Colonists distrusted the King- Articles of Confederation neglected need for an executive.

  • With the failure of the Articles, Framers saw need for an executive office that would be strong enough to govern, but not so strong that it could abuse power.

  • Framers agreed that executive power should be vested in a single person to be called the president.

Terms of office
Terms of Office

  • The 22nd Amendment now limits presidents to two four-year terms or a total of 10 years in office.

    • Changed after death of FDR- served almost 4 terms (12 years)

Removal impeachment
Removal (Impeachment)

  • The president can be removed by Congress

    • House conducts investigation and drafts Articles of Impeachment for 'treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors.'

    • Senate tries case with Chief Justice of Supreme Court presiding.

    • If 2/3rds of the Senate votes for the Articles, the president is removed from office.

Only two presidents have been impeached
Only Two Presidents have Been Impeached…

Andrew Johnson

Bill Clinton

…Neither were removed from office…


  • 7 presidents have died in office or left early.

  • Congress passed Presidential Succession Act of 1947 that stated order of succession if president died, fell ill, or left:

    • Vice-President;

    • Speaker of the House;

    • President Pro Tempore, Secretary of State, Treasury, Defense, and other Cabinet heads in order of the creation of their department








Chief Diplomat

Chief Executive

Veto Power





Evolution of the office
Evolution of the Office

  • President’s role has changed greatly

    • Most of it not clearly defined

      • The Cabinet, War Declarations

    • Changes most during times of crisis

  • Depends upon large staffs to help

    • The Cabinet

      • 15 specialized departments that advise the president (State, Defense, Treasury, etc.).

      • Appointed by president, confirmed by Senate

    • Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

    • National Security Council (NSC)



How will Executive Branch adapt to current world events?

Will the role of the president be the same 100 years from now?

Judicial branch
Judicial Branch

  • Supreme Court and other Federal Courts

  • Preserves + protects rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights

  • Considers cases involving national laws

  • Declares laws and acts unconstitutional

  • Uses Judicial Review & Precedent to render decisions

Supreme court facts
Supreme Court Facts

  • 1 Chief Justice, 8 Associate Justices w/lifetime status

    • Selected by president/confirmed by Senate

  • Sessions begin on 1st Monday in October

  • Listens to arguments during 7 two-week sessions

  • Court not required to hear every case

    • Listens only to fraction of those received

    • On average, SC receives 7,500 “petitions for certiorari”; hears only 85-100

How cases get to the court
How Cases Get to the Court

How do they get there?

  • Original Jurisdiction (1-5 cases)

  • Appellate Jurisdiction (the rest)

Deciding to decide agenda setting on the court
Deciding to Decide: Agenda Setting on the Court

  • The Process

    • Petitions and Amicus Curiae Briefs

    • Cert Pool

    • Discuss List

    • Conference and the Rule of 4

  • The Outcome:

    • reject 98-99% of request for review

  • A Problem:

    • Why do Supreme Court justices make the case selection decisions that they do?

Important court cases
Important Court Cases

  • Marbury vs. Madison (1803)

    • Gave courts the right to decide whether laws are constitutional – process called “Judicial Review”

  • Brown vs. Board of Education (1954)

    • Made segregation in schools illegal

    • Paved way for greater civil rights for blacks

  • Miranda vs. Arizona (1966)

    • Officers had to inform people of their rights at the time of their arrest

The impact of the court s decisions
The Impact of the Court’s Decisions

  • Judges: Will they comply or defy?

  • Elected Actors/Interest Groups: Will they attempt to override?

  • Implementers: Will they follow or ignore?

  • Citizens: Will they move toward the Court’s position?

Court building s architecture
Court Building’s Architecture

  • Photos of Supreme Court

  • The Authority of Law

  • Equal Justice Under Law

  • The Contemplation of Justice/Front View

  • The Supreme Court building with Authority of Law statue

  • Supreme Court’s location to the Capitol