The Constitution is the supreme law of the land—no local law, state law, school rule or any other law imposed by the government can go against it. State Law CONSTITUTION Local Law School Rule
The Preamble tells us the purpose of the Constitution: “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 this Constitution for the United States of America.”
There are nine parts to the Constitution: The Preamble—explains why it was made Article 1—explains the Legislative Branch Article 2—explains the Executive Branch Article 3—explains the Judicial Branch Article 4—explains how states interact Article 5—Tells how to change the Constitution Article 6—Tells the supremacy of the National Government Article 7—Ratification Bill of Rights—lists rights retained by the people
This is where the Legislative Branch meets: Congress The Capitol Building
Article One The legislative branch makes the laws This goes to the heart of republicanism= choosing representatives to make laws rather than relying on kings and queens There are two parts: the House of Representatives and the Senate The House is based on population whereas each state gets two members in the Senate (remember the Great Compromise)
Article One continued… Members of the House of Representatives must be at least 25 years old and they serve two-year terms:
You must… • Have been a citizen for at least 7 years
And you must… Live in the area that you are representing
Senators must be 30 years-old, have been a citizen for nine years and they serve six-year terms. All the rest of the requirements are the same
In both the House and the Senate… • There are no term limits • The longest-serving Senator in history was Robert Byrd, who served for over 51 years • Longest serving Representative is John Dingell who has been representing Michigan’s 15th district for 58 years • You don’t have to be born in the United States • Eleven current members of Congress were born somewhere else, including Cuba, Pakistan and Japan
The Representative for Los Alamitos looks like this: • Alan Lowenthal • Democrat • In office since January 2013
California’s two Senators are… Barbara Boxer Democrat 20 years in office Dianne Feinstein Democrat 21 years in office
Keep in mind: When laws and the Constitution come into conflict, the Constitution reigns supreme. The Legislative Branch cannot make laws that go against the Constitution. The Constitution sets the boundaries in which laws passed must stay. If Congress passes a law that goes out of those boundaries, it’s the job of the Supreme Court to rule it unconstitutional.
I. NOTES—LEGISLATIVE BRANCH 1. Also called Congress, their job is to make laws 2. Made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate 3. Every state gets two Senators but Representatives varies by population 4. You must be 25-years-old to be a Representative and 30 to be a Senator 5. Senators serve six year terms and Representatives serve two-year terms
The Legislative Branch makes laws • The Legislative Branch is also known as Congress. • When they meet it looks like this:
There are two parts to Congress: The House of Representatives and the Senate • They vote upon and debate about bills. Bills look like this: • OK, not exactly, but you get the idea • A bill is a proposed law.
In order for a bill to become a law, three things have to happen: • A majority (more than half) of the House of Representatives must vote YES on it. • A majority of the Senate must vote YES on it. • The President must agree with it and sign it into law.
LEGISLATIVE BRANCH EXECUTIVE BRANCH House gets a majority Senate gets a majority The President signs it IT’S A LAW!!!
WHAT IF THE PRESIDENT DOESN’T SIGN IT? • If the President doesn’t like a bill, he VETOES it. A VETO is a check the Executive Branch has over the Legislative Branch. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE….
If a President could stop any law they wanted with his or her veto, it would make the President too powerful, like one of these… So, Congress can override a veto, but it won’t be easy…
HERE’S HOW CONGRESS CAN OVERRIDE A VETO: Instead of needing a simple majority (more than half), if the President vetoes a bill Congress needs 2/3 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate to turn the bill into a law.
A VETO RAISES THE BAR TO PASS A LAW If the President agrees with both parts of Congress, a majority in Congress passes the law. If the President disagrees, it gets harder. 2/3 majority SIMPLE MAJORITY (MORE THAN HALF)
A veto is a check the President has over Congress. It doesn’t automatically stop a bill from becoming a law, but rather makes it harder for Congress to pass the bill. Overriding a veto is a check Congress has on the President. It assures that even though the President is powerful, if the will in Congress is strong enough, they can go against his wishes.
NOTES ON HOW A LAW IS PASSED • Congress=lawmakers • Once both parts of Congress pass a bill it goes to the President • The President has two choices: Sign it or Veto it • If vetoed two-thirds of each part of Congress is needed for it to become law • Laws still have to be Constitutional
Moving on… Article Two: The Executive Branch
The Executive Branch The executive Branch is headed by the President of the United States. Can you name them?
To be President, you must… Be at least 35-years-old
Terms and years The term for a President is four years, and unlike Congressman, Presidents have term limits, as they can only serve two terms. Originally, this was just a tradition or precedent set by Washington, but eventually it was added to the Constitution with the 22nd Amendment.
Some notable Presidents… Youngest: Teddy Roosevelt, 42-years-old Oldest: Ronald Reagan, 77-years-old
Longest serving: Franklin Roosevelt, 12 years Shortest serving: William Henry Harrison, 32 days
Largest President: William Howard Taft, 320 lbs Smallest President: James Madison, about 100 lbs
Only President to resign from office… Nixon, 1974
Presidents that have been assassinated McKinley Lincoln Garfield Kennedy
If something happens to the President, here is the order of succession: Secretary of Commerce Secretary of Labor Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary of Transportation Secretary of Energy Secretary of Education Secretary of Veterans Affairs Secretary of Homeland Security The Vice President Speaker of the House President pro tempore of the Senate1 Secretary of State Secretary of the Treasury Secretary of Defense Attorney General Secretary of the Interior Secretary of Agriculture
The job of the President is to enforce the laws. In other words, they are to make sure that the laws passed by Congress and the rulings of the courts are carried through.
Example: 1963 Alabama Governor George Wallace was defying the Supreme Court’s order to integrate the University of Alabama and let African-American students enroll, so… Alabama Governor George Wallace who had been defying it. National Guard sent by President Kennedy to enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The President gets the final say on decisions in times of war: who to attack, when to attack them, where to deploy troops, when to bring troops home and so forth. He relies upon his Secretary of Defense and Chiefs of Staff for advice. Congress, however, declares war and determines funding. The President also has a military title: Commander-in-Chief Chiefs of Staff
Presidents also sign treaties and agreements with other countries. Here, President Reagan is shown in 1987 with Soviet Premier Gorbachev.
II. NOTES ON THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH 1. The Executive Branch consists of the President and Vice-President 2. Their job is to enforce the Constitution 3. President and VP get elected as a package called a “ticket” 4. Serve four-year-term and have a two-term limit. 5. POTUS’ jobs include foreign policy, encouraging a domestic agenda and being the final stage in the law-making process
Presidents are elected to four year terms and can only be elected twice. They are elected by a system called the… Electoral College
col·lege(noun) • A higher educational establishment • An organized group of professional people with aims, goals, duties and privileges.
Each state is in charge of how they award their own electoral votes. In every state besides Nebraska and Maine, the candidate that wins the state wins ALL of the electoral votes for the state. This is called “winner-take-all” The number of electoral votes per state is determined by their number of Representatives plus the number of Senators. Representatives + Senators Electoral Votes
WAIT ‘TIL YOU HEAR THIS… There are actual people, called electors, that each state chooses by whatever method they want. Those electors are entrusted to fulfill or represent the will of the voters in their state. Though the presidential election happens in late November, the electors meet several weeks later to cast their ballots and submit them. They are expected to fulfill the will of the voters in their state according to their state law.
For instance… • California: 53 Representatives + 2 Senators= 55 Electoral Votes • Texas: 32 Reps + 2 Senators= 34 Electoral Votes • Alaska: 1 Representative + 2 Senators= 3 Electoral Votes So, if a presidential candidate was to win all three states, they would get all 92 electoral votes.