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Chapter Three, Section Three. “The Structure of the Constitution”. “Supreme Law of the Land”. “Supreme Law of the Land”. The new “ U.S. Constitution ” is the highest authority in the nation. All power of the U.S. Government is derived from this document.

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supreme law of the land1
“Supreme Law of the Land”
  • The new “U.S. Constitution” is the highest authority in the nation.
  • All power of the U.S. Government is derived from this 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 this Constitution for the United States of America.”
to form a more perfect union
To Form a more perfect Union
  • To unite the states more effectively so they can operate as a single nation, for the good of all
to establish justice
To establish Justice
  • To create a system of fair laws and courts and make certain that all citizens are treated equally.
to insure domestic tranquility
To insure domestic Tranquility
  • To maintain peace and order, keeping citizens and property safe from harm.
to provide for the common defense
To provide for the common defense
  • To be ready militarily to protect the country and it’s citizens from outside attack.
to promote the general welfare
To promote the general Welfare
  • To help people live healthy, happy, and prosperous lives
to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity
To secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity
  • To guarantee the freedom and basic rights of all Americans, including future generations (“posterity”).
article i
Article I
  • Article I establishes the Legislative Branch (U.S. Congress).
  • It creates the “Senate” and the “House of Representatives”.
  • Congress has the task of “making laws”.
  • Only Congress can declare war or coin money.
article ii
Article II
  • Article II establishes the Executive Branch (U.S. President & Vice President).
  • It establishes procedures for electing the president and vice president
  • President has the task of “carrying out laws”.
article iii
Article III
  • Article III establishes the Judicial Branch – which is comprised of the “U.S. Supreme Court (with 9 justices) and other lower courts”
  • It establishes the powers of the Court and the cases they will hear.
  • Supreme Court has the task of “interpreting our laws”.
article iv
Article IV
  • Article IV establishes the relations of the states and the rights of citizens.
  • It establishes “good will” among states.
  • Promises U.S. protection of the states and their citizens
article v
Article V
  • Article V discusses the amendments to the Constitution (currently 27)
  • “Amending” (or changing) allows the Constitution to change with the times.
  • “Bill of Rights” are the first 10 amendments
article vi
Article VI
  • Article VI discusses the “supremacy” of the Constitution.
  • The Constitution is the highest authority in the land.
  • If state law contradicts the Constitution, the Constitution wins.
article vii
Article VII
  • Article VII discusses the “ratification” (or approval) of the Constitution.
  • It requires 9 out of 13 states to ratify before the Constitution can go into effect.
amending the constitution1
Amending the Constitution
  • 1791, the first “amendments” were added to the Constitution.
  • These are the “Bill of Rights”.
  • Thousands have been suggested, but only 27have been made!
amending the constitution2
Amending the Constitution
  • All amendments must begin by being “proposed”
  • To propose an amendment, it requires either a
    • (1) vote of 2/3 of both houses of Congress OR
    • (2) national convention called for by 2/3 of state legislatures.
  • Most amendments begin with (1)…
amending the constitution3
Amending the Constitution
  • All amendments must end by being “ratified”
  • To ratify an amendment, it requires either a
    • (1) ¾ of state legislatures approval OR
    • (2) ¾ of state Ratifying Conventions.
  • Only Amendment 21 ratified by (2)…
interpreting the constitution
Interpreting the Constitution
  • The “Necessary and Proper Clause” states Congress has the power to make all Laws which shall be “necessary and proper”
  • Article I, Section 8, Clause 18
interpreting the constitution1
Interpreting the Constitution
  • Also known as the “Elastic Clause”, this gives Congress flexibility to make what laws it seems are necessary and proper.
  • This is an “implied power” and not specifically mentioned.
interpreting the constitution2
Interpreting the Constitution
  • Supreme Court decisions also have a major impact.
  • They have final authority on “interpreting” the Constitution.
  • These have differed over time depending on the make up of the Court.
interpreting the constitution3
Interpreting the Constitution
  • Congress and the presidents have also interpreted the Constitution
  • Cases of impeachment and presidential succession.
interpreting the constitution4
Interpreting the Constitution
  • Interpretation of the Constitution has also changed through custom and tradition * i.e political parties