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1 US Constitution We the People... A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing... the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. - Thomas Jefferson Revolutionary Government Articles of Confederation were established in After the war, they proved an ineffective form of government. Shays s Rebellion demonstrated the weakness in the Confederation. Confederation or Union Which form of government will work for the United States? o Confederation - a loose collection of states or - a Union - a nation of states Constitutional Convention Philadelphia 1787 Representatives from all 13 states met to write a Constitution and create a powerful central (federal) government. Compromises in the Constitution: Representation in Congress o New Jersey Plan - a state s representation in Congress should be equal. One vote per state. o Virginia Plan - a state s representation in Congress should be based on a state s population. Compromise - Bicameral Legislature (2 Houses) Senate: each state gets 2 votes House of Representative: states get a number of votes based on the state s population. Compromises in the Constitution: Slavery 3/5 Compromise - Three-fifths of the slaves will be counted in determining a state s population. James Madison s Constitution o Preamble - introduction o 7 Articles - powers of government o 27 Amendments - additions and changes. Bill of Right- first 10 Amendments. Ratifying the Constitution Voting to make the Constitution legal would require a compromise between the Federalists and Anti-federalists. Federalists Strong Central Government Pro-Constitution Necessity of Government Anti-federalists State s Rights Anti-Constitution Wary of Government Federalist Papers James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote 85 anonymous essays promoting the Constitution. These essays are known as the Federalist papers. Ratification 9 of the 13 states were needed to ratify the Constitution. June the Constitution was ratified and became the ultimate law of the United States. 1

2 THE US CONSTITUTION Preamble 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. ARTICLES Article 1 - Legislative Branch Legislative - to make laws Bicameral Congress - two houses: o House of Representatives o Senate House of Representative: o Representation is based on a state s population. o Leader is the Speaker of the House. o May impeach the President. o Congressmen (Representatives) must be: at least 25 years old at least 7 years a US citizen reside in the state that he/she will represent o Congressmen (Representative) serve 2 year terms. Senate: o Equal Representation - 2 votes per state o President of the Senate is the Vice President of the United States. o Trial of impeachments o Senators must be: at least 30 years old at least 9 years a US citizen reside in the state that he/she will represent o Senators serve 6 year terms. 1/3 of the Senate is elected every general election (2 years). Powers of Congress o Only Congress may declare war. o Congress may determine their own rules, work schedules, and salaries. o May not suspend writs of Habeas Corpus. o May not pass ex post facto laws. o May not grant titles of nobility. o Elastic Clause - Congress may pass all laws that are necessary and proper... How a Bill Becomes a Law o First a bill is introduced into either House of Congress. o Then the Bill is voted on, and must pass by a majority. o The Bill then moves onto the other House where it must also pass by a majority vote. o If the bill passes both Houses of Congress, it is sent to the President for his signature. o If the President signs it, the Bill becomes a Law. If the President vetoes it, the Bill fails. o Congress can override the veto with a 2/3 vote in both Houses. 2

3 Article 2 - Executive Branch Executive - to enforce laws President of the United States o Requirements: at least 35 years old natural born citizen at least a 14 year resident of the United States o Serves a 4 year term. Electoral College The states elect the President. Each state gets as many electors (votes) as they have members in both houses of Congress. These electors meet in the Electoral College. An elector will vote for the candidate for which the majority of the people in his/her state voted. Most of the time the electoral system works. There are 538 electoral votes The people indirectly vote for President. Powers of the President o President is Commander and Chief of the US military. o President makes treaties. o President appoints federal judges, including the 9 Supreme Court justices. o President gives the State of the Union Address. Article 3 - Judicial Branch Judicial - interprets laws US Supreme Court o 9 Justices ( They vote on each case they review, determining how laws are applied.) o Serve for good behavior (life). o Power of Judicial Review - only the Supreme Court may declare a law Unconstitutional. Article 4 - the States States must cooperate with each other. Congress may add new states to the Union. Article 5 - Amendments Amendments are changes or additions to the Constitution. o Step 1: An amendment must be proposed. 2/3 of both houses of Congress or 2/3 of all the states o Step 2: A proposed amendment must be ratified. 3/4 of all the states Article 6 - National Supremacy The Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land. Federal laws supercede state laws. Article 7 - Ratification 9 of the 13 states were needed to ratify the Constitution. 3

4 ADMENDMENTS 1st Amendment o Separation of church and state o Freedom of religion o Freedom of speech o Freedom of the press o Right to peaceably assemble o Right to seek redress of grievances from the government To announce that there must be no criticism of the government, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -Theodore Roosevelt nd Amendment Right to bear arms 3rd Amendment Soldiers may NOT be quartered in people s homes in times of peace. 4th Amendment Protection from unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause or a search warrant. 5th Amendment Americans may not lose life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Right not to incriminate yourself (right to remain silent). 6th Amendment the accused shall enjoy: o a public, speedy trial by jury o a lawyer o the right to obtain and confront witnesses 7th Amendment Right to a civil trial 8th Amendment Protection from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment 9th Amendment All other rights not listed in Constitution are still retained by the people. 10th Amendment All other powers of government not listed in the Constitution belong to the states. 4

5 11th Amendment Federal judicial power does not extend to citizens from one state suing another state, nor a foreigner suing a state. 12th Amendment Candidates for President and Vice President must run as a team (ticket). Civil War Amendments (13, 14, 15) The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were passed just after the Civil War and were designed to turn the slaves into free citizens with full rights. o 13 - freedom for the slaves o 14 - civil rights for all Americans o 15 - universal suffrage (voting) for all adult male citizens 16th Amendment Income tax 17th Amendment People will directly elect the Senators from their own state. 18th Amendment Abolition (making illegal) of alcohol. Repealed by the 21st Amendment. 19th Amendment Women s suffrage (voting) 20th Amendment Lame Duck Amendment - the President takes office on the 20th day of the year (Jan 20). 21st Amendment Repealed the 18th Amendment (prohibition of alcohol). 22nd Amendment Presidents are limited to 2 terms of office.if a President dies, becomes incapacitated, leaves office, or is removed from office, the vice-president becomes President. The new President is eligible to serve 2 more terms as President as long as his/her total years of service does not exceed 10 consecutive years. 23rd Amendment The District of Columbia, belonging to no state, is allowed 3 electoral votes for President. 24th Amendment The abolition of poll (voting) taxes 5

6 25th Amendment This amendment provides a list for the succession of the Presidency, in the case of the President s death, incapacitation, resignation, or removal. o Vice President o Speaker of the House o Senate President Pro Tempore o Members of the Presidential Cabinet 26th Amendment National voting age lowered to 18 years old. 27th Amendment Congressional raises do not take effect until a general election of Congress has intervened. 6

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