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4. Checks and Balances . 1. The Constitution and the Electoral Process. 2. The Articles of the Constitution. Article I: The Legislative Article Defines bicameral legislature and its operations, duties and qualifications of members Lists enumerated powers

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4. Checks and Balances

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the articles of the constitution
The Articles of the Constitution
  • Article I: The Legislative Article
    • Defines bicameral legislature and its operations, duties and qualifications of members
    • Lists enumerated powers
      • Also has “necessary and proper clause”
  • Article II: The Executive Article
    • Establishes executive branch, election procedures, qualifications, and duties and powers


the articles of the constitution1
The Articles of the Constitution
  • Article III: The Judicial Article
    • Supreme Court is highest court; Congress to decide rest
    • Federal judges serve for life


the articles of the constitution2
The Articles of the Constitution
  • The Remaining Articles
    • Article IV--Treatment of other states’ citizens and the Addition of new states
    • Article V---How to Amendment the Constitution
    • Article VI--Supremacy clause—

”Constitution is the highest law of the land”

    • Article VII---Ratification process—3/4 vote!
the framer s motives
The Framer’s Motives
  • Most important: inability of government to maintain order under the Articles of Confederation
  • Economic stability also a motive


the slavery issue
The Slavery Issue
  • To ensure passage, Constitution essentially condoned slavery
  • “The Great Compromise” counted slaves as 3/5ths of a person when allocating representation in House
  • Slave trade not to be ended for 20 years
  • Fugitive slaves to be returned to masters


selling the constitution
Selling the Constitution
  • To take effect, 9 state conventions must ratify
  • Two groups vied for supporters; formed basis of later political parties
    • Proponents known as Federalists
    • Those against new constitution were Antifederalists




  • Federalists favored strong central government and the new Constitution
    • Proponents had time, money and power
    • Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison--
  • Anti-Federalists preferred to keep status quo
    • Feared overbearing central government
    • Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams
the federalist papers
The Federalist Papers
  • Eighty-five newspaper articles written to support ratification of Constitution
    • Essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay under the name of “Publius”
    • Most famous is Federalist No. 10 about factions; Federalist No. 51 about same issue
      • Both found at http://www.cengage.com/politicalscience/janda
  • Federalist # 10 --stating that one of the strongest arguments in favor of the Constitution is the fact that it establishes a government capable of controlling the violence and damage caused by factions.



In large republics, factions will be numerous, but they will be weaker than in small, direct democracies where it is easier for factions to consolidate their strength.

Antifederalists wrote additional articles under pen names “Brutus” and “Federal Farmer”

the march to the finish
The March to the Finish


  • The vote by the Virginia ratification convention was essential and somewhat close.
  • The New York vote was even closer and put the Constitution “over the top.”
  • At this point, North Carolina and Rhode Island had little choice but to join.
a concession the bill of rights
A Concession: The Bill of Rights
  • Many citizens unhappy Constitution did not address basic civil liberties
  • This omission chief barrier to adoption
  • George Washington proposed adding Bill of Rights after Constitution ratified
    • Over 100 proposed; 12 approved and sent to states
    • Ten became part of Constitution in 1791


the bill of rights
The Bill of Rights


  • Twelve drafted by Madison,

ten ratified by states

    • A “Bill of Limits”
    • No explicit limits on state government powers
    • Did not apply to state governments
table 3 2 the bill of rights
Table 3.2 The Bill of Rights



  • Constitution took effect after New Hampshire became 9th state to ratify June 21, 1788
    • Success of new government guaranteed when New York and Virginia ratified document in July 1788


constitutional change
Constitutional Change
  • By formal amendment
  • By judicial interpretation
  • By political practice


amending the constitution
Amending the Constitution




Although 11,000 amendments have been considered by Congress, only 33 have been submitted to the states after being approved, and only 27 have been ratified since 1789.

the formal amendment process
The Formal Amendment Process
  • Two ways to propose; two to ratify
  • Most frequently used is proposal by 2/3 vote of House and Senate; ratification by vote of ¾ of state legislatures
  • Congress generally sets seven years as deadline for approval
  • Most amendments reflect changes in political thinking


constitutional amendments
Constitutional Amendments
  • Last approved was 27th Amendment, one of the original 12 proposed in 1789
  • Only six proposed to states not approved



Women’s suffrage

The Granger Collection, New York


  • The strongest theme among the amendments is the expansion of citizenship rights.
    • Prohibition against slavery (Thirteenth, 1865)
    • Right to vote for women (Nineteenth, 1920)
interpretation by the courts
Interpretation by the Courts
  • Concept of judicial review not spelled out in Constitution
  • In Marbury v. Madison (1803), Supreme Court declared it had power to nullify government acts that conflict with Constitution
  • In interpreting Constitution, new meaning may be given


informal methods of constitutional change
Informal Methods of Constitutional Change


  • Congressional Legislation
  • Presidential Action
  • Judicial Review
  • Interpretation, Custom, and Usage
political practice
Political Practice
  • Constitution silent on many issues
  • Other provisions have fallen out of use
  • Presidential responses to national crises have enlarged power of presidency
    • Founders viewed Congress as most powerful branch of government


major constitutional shifts
Major Constitutional Shifts


  • Early 1800s: national authority over states
    • McCulloch v. Maryland
  • Post Civil War: Reconstruction Amendments
    • Abolish slavery, establishes black men as citizens with voting rights, equal protection and due process
    • Provides Congress with broader powers
  • Great Depression: rulings and political practice
    • New Deal practices regulate business
    • Court acquiesces to FDR
freedom order and equality in the constitution
Freedom, Order, and Equality in the Constitution
  • Constitution balances order and freedom, with little attention to equality
    • When adopted, social equality not considered to be objective of government
    • Political equality also not addressed; later amendments expanded suffrage


the constitution and models of democracy
The Constitution and Models of Democracy
  • U.S. Constitution follows pluralist model of democracy
    • Federalist No. 10’s factions
    • Federalist No. 51’s explanation of how separation of powers and checks and balances protect against majority rule
    • U.S. government has no single center of government power