Category: The Constitution

Constitution and the Distribution of Power Part I: Forming the Constitution

The Constitution and the Distribution of Power Steps to forming the Constitution The Constitution and Distribution of Power Go to Part II: Constitution and Compromise The Constitution as the Supreme Law of the United States Go to Part III: The Supremacy Clause The constitution before the Constitution On July 4, 1776, representatives of the 13 American colonies met at the Continental Congress and approved the Declaration of Independence.  In the Declaration, the 13 former colonies referred to themselves as the United “States,” because each state considered itself, not only independent of Great Britain, but also independent (at least to...

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Sources of Law in the United States Part I: The Constitution

Sources of Law in the United States Go to the Constitution as a Source of Law  Introducing four sources of law in the United States:   ? The Constitution The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the United States and also a source of law. A Statutes Statutes are laws enacted by legislative bodies, such as Congress. A Case Law When judges issue decisions these decisions have the force of law. A Administrative Law Administrative regulations and decisions, such as those issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, have the force of law. The Constitution and the Protection of Important Freedoms The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States and also a source of law.  It has two functions. First, the Constitution organizes the federal government. You may already know that the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation to create a stronger national government.   How does the Constitution organize the federal government?  The Constitution organizes the federal government by: dividing power between the national government and state governments (federalism); establishing the three branches of the federal government and dividing power among the three branches (separation of powers); and providing each branch of government with powers to limit the powers of the other branches (checks and balances). Second, the Constitution protects important freedoms. The Bill of Rights At the insistence of the anti-federalists, the framers of the Constitution also included Ten...

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What is the electoral college system in the United States?

The electoral college system in the United States is an example of a compromise in the United States Constitution. Read more about compromises in the Constitution When the United States was founded, some Americans favored a system of direct democracy, in which after each vote is counted the candidate with the most votes would win.   Other American favored a more indirect system in which either Congress or the States would select the President. The Electoral College was a compromise.  The system provides that each state designates a certain number of Electors, based on the state’s population.  The state’s Electors vote for a candidate after the states’ citizens finish voting.  The candidate who wins a majority of votes in the Electoral College becomes the President of the United States. Almost all states follow a winner-take-all system.  That is, the Electors must vote for the candidate who won a plurality of votes in that...

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What is due process of law?

Take me to the videos The Right to Due Process The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution provide that no one can be deprived of “life, liberty, or property” without “due process of law.”  Courts refer to these clauses as the “due process clauses.” Meaning of Due Process Due process means that a person has the right to fair procedures before the government takes away her life, freedom, or property.  As one example, the due process clauses protect a person’s right to a fair trial before being sent to prison. Why does the Due Process Clause appear in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments? Because  the Fifth Amendment only applies to the federal government.   The Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause  provides, “… nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  State governments must also provide due process of law. Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment to insure that state governments did not deprive black people – – former slaves – – of the Constitution’s basic freedoms. Incorporation Over the years, the Supreme Court has gradually held that nearly all of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights apply to the states because of the Fourteenth Amendment.  The Supreme Court’s application of the Bill of Rights to the states is called incorporation of the Bill of Rights against the...

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Checks and Balances/Legal English Game

Checks and balances limit the power of each branch of the federal government.  The Constitution provides powers to each branch of government, including the legislative, executive, and judicial branches,  Each of these branches have powers that can prevent other brances from becoming too powerful. How well can you do on this game?   You can also try this quiz:   USLawEssentials Checks and Balances Quiz » Powered by...

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