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Chapter 8 - The Constitution

by: tori_wren

Chapter 8 - The Constitution 1336

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This is an outline of Chapter 8 - The Constitution and includes Chapter 8 vocabulary and definition
US and Texas Const/Politics
Sharon M Davis
Class Notes
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This 19 page Class Notes was uploaded by tori_wren on Thursday January 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 1336 at University of Houston taught by Sharon M Davis in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 74 views. For similar materials see US and Texas Const/Politics in Political Science at University of Houston.


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Date Created: 01/28/16
Wren 1 Chapter 8 - The Constitution American Democracy Now - Vocabulary Advice and Consent: the Senate’s authority to approve or reject the president’s • appointments and negotiated treaties • Anti-Federalists: individuals who opposed ratification of the Constitution because they were deeply suspicious of the powers it gave to the national government and of the impact those powers would have on state’s authority and individual freedoms • Bicameral Legislature: legislature comprising two parts, called chambers • Bill of Rights: the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, which were ratified in 1791, constituting an enumeration of the individual liberties with which the government is forbidden to interfere • Checks and Balances: a system in which each branch of government can monitor and limit the functions of the other branches • Confederation: a union of independent states in which each state retains its sovereignty—that is, its ultimate power to govern—and agrees toward collaboratively on matters the states expressly agree to delegate to a central governing body • Connecticut Compromise (Great Compromise): the compromise between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan that created a bicameral legislature with one chamber’s representation based on population and the other chamber having two members for each state • Constitution: the fundamental principles of a government and the basic structures and procedures by which the government operates to fulfill those principles; may e written or unwritten 1 Wren 2 • Dual Sovereignty: a system of government in which ultimate governing authority is divided between two levels of government, a central government and regional government, with each level having ultimate authority over different policy matters • Electoral College: the name given to the body of representatives elected by voters in each state to elect the president and the vice president • The Federalist Papers: a series of essays, written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, that argued for the ratification of the Constitution • Federalists: individuals who supported the new Constitution as presented by the Constitutional Convention in 1787 • Judicial Review: court authority to determine that an action taken by any government official or governing body violates the Constitution; established by the Supreme Court in the 1803 Marbury v. Madison case Marbury v. Madison: the 1803 Supreme Court case that established the power of • judicial review, which allows courts to determine that na action taken by any government official or governing body violates the Constitution • Natural Rights (Unalienable Rights): the rights possessed by all humans as a gift from nature, or God, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness • New Jersey Plan: the proposal presented in response to the Virginia Plan by the less populous states at the Constitutional Convention, which called for a unicameral national legislature in which all states would have an equal voice (equal representation), an executive office composed o several people elected by Congress, and a Supreme Court whose members would be appointed by the executive office • Republic: a government that derives its authority form the people and in which citizens elect government officials to represent them in the processes by which laws are made; a representative democracy 2 Wren 3 • Separation of Powers: the Constitution’s delegation of authority for the primary governing functions among three branches of government so that no one group of government officials controls all the governing functions • Supremacy Clause: a clause in Article VI of the Constitution that states that the Constitution and the treaties and laws created by the national government in compliance with the Constitution are the supreme law of the land • Three-Fifths Compromise: the negotiated agreement by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention to count each slave as three-fifths of a free man for the purpose of representation and taxes • Unicameral Legislature: a legislative body with a single chamber Veto: the president’s rejection of a bill, which is sent back to Congress with the • present’s objections noted Virginia Plan: the new governmental structure proposed by the Virginia delegation • to the Constitutional Convention, which consisted of a bicameral legislature (Congress), an executive elected by the legislature, and a separate national judiciary; state representation in Congress would be proportional, based on state population; the people would elect member to the lower house, and members o the lower house would elect members of the upper house - Intro • The Constitution of the United States is the oldest written constitution in the world. Scholars attribute its long life to several factors - The basic governmental structures created by the Constitution: a federal system with two levels of sovereignty (nation and state) and three branches of government - The fundamental principles on which the framers built the government (popular sovereignty and protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) 3 Wren 4 - The vague and ambiguous language found throughout the document, which allows each generation to debate, deliberate, and interpret it in order to meet the needs and demands • The convention delegates attempted to create a representative democracy that would protect individual liberties while ensuring a healthy economy and a strong nation - What Is a Constitution • An unwritten constitution is a collection of written laws approved by a legislative body and unwritten common laws established by judges, based on custom, culture, habit, and previous judicial decisions • A written constitution is one specific document supplemented by judicial interpretations that clarify its meaning • If you read the government’s written constitution, you will find three essential pieces of information about the government - First, you will find a statement of the government’s mission or the long-term goals of the government as envisioned by its framers - Second, you will discover a description of how the government is organized into foundational structures, core government bodies that accomplish its mission - Finally, you will uncover the details of the government’s essential operating procedures - The Creation of the United States of America A diversity of people and a mix of economic classes migrated to the colonies • 4 Wren 5 - Some had connections to the king to receive large grants of land and the authority to govern - Some came as indentured servants, who would work for a number of years for a master who paid for their passage - Others came to create communities with people of the same religion so that they could practice their faith without government interference • By the early 18th century, a two-tier system of governing British colonies in America had evolved, with governance split between the colonies and Britain - The colonists elected local officials to colonial assemblies that had the authority to rule on day-to-day matters - Governors appointed by the king oversaw the enforcement of British law in the colonies • In the latter half of the 18th century, Parliament tried to raise additional revenue and to confirm its sovereignty over its colonists - They put more restrictions on the colonists’ freedoms and their pursuit of economic well-being - Criticisms from the colonists turned into rebellion, which became a revolution • British Policies Incite Revolution in the Colonies - 1756-1763, Britain and France were engaged in the Seven Years’ War, and they were battling in North America, a conflict known as the French and Indian War • British Parliament turned to the colonies for increased revenues, but the colonists protested the new tax laws - Taxes and Boycotts • The first new tariff imposed after the Treaty of Paris (1763) ended the Seven Years’ War and the French and Indian War was the Sugar Act (1764) 5 Wren 6 - The Sugar Act directed that all taxes thus collected be sent directly to Britain - Colonists condemned the law, saying that because they had no representatives in Parliament, they had no obligation to pay taxes • 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act which introduced a new level of British involvement in the day-to-day matters of the colonists - The colonists began boycotting goods important from Great Britain - The Sons of Liberty, founded by Samuel Adams, opposed the act by intimidating British stamp commissioners and sometimes engaging in acts of violence • 1765, the Quartering Act direct each colonial assembly to provide supplies to meet the basic needs of the British soldiers stationed within the colonies - Parliament expanded this law to require the colonial assemblies to ensure housing for the soldiers • The colonists called for the repeal of the Stamp Act, which was met but it paired that repeal with the passage of the Declaratory Act - This gave Parliament the blanket power to make the laws - The Townshend Revenue Act of 1767 expanded the list of imported goods that would be taxed • 1768, the Massachusetts colonial legislature, led by activist Samuel Adams, petitioned King George III to repeal the Townshend Revenue Act - “Taxation without representation” - Parliament repealed, except for the duty on tea - A “Massacre” and a Tea Party 6 Wren 7 • British soldiers were quartered in the homes of the civilians, and they were financially supported by the colonists due to the Quartering Act but sought additional work - March 5, 1770, an angry mob clashed with the British soldiers, and the soldiers shot into the crowd. Samuel Adams condemned the event as the “Boston Massacre” • 1772, Samuel Adams created the Massachusetts Committee of Correspondence - This communication network facilitated the sharing of news and calls for rebellion among the colonists 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act, which gave the East India Tea Company • a monopoly on tea imported into the colonies - The Sons of Liberty successfully swayed public opinion and became the catalyst for the Boston Tea Party, which became a cataclysmic effect, not only on the relationship between Britain and the colonies but also on relationships among the colonists themselves • 1774, Parliament responded with the Coercive Acts (Intolerable Acts), which closed the port of Boston and kept it closed until the colonists paid for the lost tea - The First Continental Congress: A Declaration of Rights • The Continental Congress adopted and sent to the King the Declaration of Rights and Grievances - This listed numerous rights to which the delegates argued the colonists were entitled • Some included life, liberty, and property; representation in Parliament; and consideration of their grievances and petitions to the king 7 Wren 8 • King George III refused to respond to the First Continental Congress’s declaration - The assembled delegates authorized the Congress to function as an independent government and to prepare for war with Britain, appointing George Washington to command the Continental Army • The Common Sense of Declaring Independence - Even as the Congress prepared for war, many colonists remained unsure about cutting their ties with Britain • Thomas Paine’s Common Sense argued that war with Great Britain was not only necessary but also unavoidable - May 1776, Richard Henry Lee’s resolution called for the drafting of a plan of union for the colonies • The committee selected Thomas Jefferson to draft the “declaration of independence” - July 4, 1776, Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was unanimously endorsed by the Second Continental Congress First, he held that all men are equal, with natural rights to life, liberty, and the • pursuit of happiness • Second, he proposed that all government should be based on the consent of the people • Finally, he stated that if a government is not protecting the rights of the people, then the people have the duty to abolish it and to create a new government - The Declaration provided a rallying point by promising a new government that would be based on the consent of the people, with liberty and equality as its central goals 8 Wren 9 - The War for Independence (American Revolutionary War) began at Lexington and concord in 1775, ended eight years later with the signing of a peace treaty in Paris in 1783 • 1777, the Second Continental Congress drafted and submitted to the states a constitution, the Articles of Confederation, which designed a collaborative governing alliance among the states • The State Constitutions - The new state constitutions were revolutionary for three primary reasons • First, they were each a single, written document that specified the principles, structures, and operating procedures of the government established by the consent of the people • Second, they were adopted at a specific moment in time, which were accumulations of disparate laws • Third, they transformed “subjects” under the rule of a king to citizens sharing in popular sovereignty - Each state constitution established a republic and most asserted explicitly that the people held the power • Whereas the Articles of Confederation would create one national governing body, state governments included three—legislative, executive, and judicial branches - The mission of all the state governments was to ensure natural rights. This is evident in their bill of rights • State bills of rights affirmed that all government’s power derives from the people The Articles of Confederation (1781-1789) • 9 Wren 1 0 - Because of the colonists’ bitter experience under the British crown, they distrusted a strong, distant central government • Through the Articles of Confederation, the states created an alliance for mutual well-being in the international realm yet continued to pursue independently their own self-interests, within their own borders - Structure and Authority of the Confederation • Structurally the Articles created only one governing body, a Congress, which was a unicameral legislature - Every state had only one vote, and each determined how its congressional delegates would be selected - Amending the Articles of Confederation required unanimous agreement among all 13 state congressional delegations • The Congress had very limited authority: it was not authorized to raise revenue through taxation - Therefore, to pay the national government’s bills, Congress had to request money from each state - Weaknesses of the Confederation • Under the Articles of Confederation, the states retained ultimate authority in matters of commerce and currency, there was no centralized economic policy - The cumulative effect of each state’s having its own economic policies was that interstate and international commerce was hampered, putting the nation’s economic health in jeopardy • In Massachusetts, economic pressures reached a head in 1786 when small farmer could not pay their legal debts and faced bankruptcy and the loss of their land 10 Wren 11 - Farmer and war veteran Daniel Shays led an uprising, Shays’s Rebellion, of those debt-burdened farmers • The weaknesses of the national confederacy—including its lack of authority to develop economic policies and its inability to defend against domestic uprising —were becoming apparent - Calls to Remedy Defects of the Articles of Confederation • Congress faced bankruptcy, and violent rebellions threatened peace and security in the states - The delegates called for a future convention,to be attended by representatives from all 13 states, to devise amendments to the Articles of Confederation that would fix its weaknesses and to submit its proposals to “the United States in Congress assembled” - Crafting the Constitution: Compromise, Ratification, and Quick Amendment • The convention called to address the defects of the Articles of Confederation was held in Philadelphia from May 25 through September 17, 1787 Although very early in the convention the delegates agreed on the need for a • stronger national government, there was conflict over how best to structure it while incorporating principles of representative democracy and protecting liberties - Ultimately, the delegates framed a new constitution, establishing new foundational government structures and operating procedures to achieve the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence • Areas of Consensus - Dual Sovereignty • The framers created an innovative system of government with dual sovereignty. Today, we call this a federal system of government 11 Wren 1 2 - Article I of the Constitution lists the matters over which the national legislature (Congress) has lawmaking authority - Article I also prohibits state governments form engaging in several specific activities, such as negotiating treaties - National Supremacy • The framers anticipated that this system of dual sovereignty would cause tension between the national governments and the state governments - Therefore, they included in Article VI of the Constitution a supremacy clause - The lack of a list of individual liberties to limit the power of the national government was a major concern for citizens - Separation of Powers with Integrated Checks and Balances • The framers separated the primary governing functions among three branches of government—referred to as the separation of powers—so that no one group of government officials controlled all the governing functions • One the framers separated the primary functions, they established various mechanisms that form a system of checks and balances - If one branch tries to move beyond its now sphere or to behave tyrannically, this arrangement ensures that the other branches can take action to stop it • Conflict and Compromise Over Representative Democracy - How should the government officials in each of the three branches of this newly formed republican national government be selected? - How would the states be represented in the national government? - The Connecticut Compromise • Virginian James Madison arrived at the convention with the Virginia Plan in hand for restructuring the national government 12 Wren 1 3 • The states with smaller populations quickly and aggressively responded to Madison’s Virginia Plan with a Proposal of their own: The New Jersey Plan, a series presented by William Paterson • The disagreement and negotiation over the Virginia and the New Jersey Plans resulted in several compromises, most notable the Connecticut Compromise (or the Great Compromise) - The Constitution’s Limits on Representative Democracy • At the heart of representative democracy is the participation o citizens in electing their government officials - The Seventeenth Amendment gave voters in each state the power to elect their representatives in the Senate - The Constitution delegates to states the authority to appoint individuals (electors), using a process determined by the state legislature, to elect the president and the vice president - In addition to limiting the national government officials directly elected by citizens to just their representative in the House of Representatives, the framers effectively limited voting rights to a minority of citizens (the framers left to the states the authority to determine eligibility to vote) • Conflict and Compromise Over Slavery - Delegates to the Constitutional Convention also disagreed on the “peculiar institution” of slavery • Slaves made up 18% of the population, majority being in the southern states, whose economy relied on slave labor • Northern delegates believed that the nation needed a more powerful central government than had existed under the Articles of Confederation 13 Wren 1 4 - Ultimately, the Three-Fifths Compromise was brought up to count each enslaved person as three-fifths of a free man • The southern states benefited form this compromise: They gained greater representation in the House and in the Electoral college • The benefit to the northern states was that if the national government imposed a direct tax on the states based on their populations, southern states would pay more • What About a Bill of Rights? - The Constitution as rated by the framers did not provide protections for these rights • 1787, George Mason called for a bill of rights that listed fundamental freedoms that the federal government could not infringe • Roger Sherman argued that there was no need for one, because state constitutions included bills of rights • With hardly any discussion, the delegates decided to to add a bill of rights to the proposed constitution Congress Sends the Constitution to the States for Ratification • - 1787, the signing of the Constitution - The framers included in the Constitution a new ratification process that required the approval of conventions of just 9 states • The proposed constitution sent to the states was a product of conflict - Article I: The Legislative Branch Article I specifies that the legislature is bicameral, compromising the House of • Representatives and the Senate - Each state is represented in the House based on its population 14 Wren 1 5 - State representation in the Senate is equal, with each state having two senators • A bill requires simple majority votes in both the House and the Senate to become a law - All pieces of legislation supported will go to the president for approval or rejection (veto) - Article II: The Executive Branch • This article gives the president authority to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, to appoint people to assist in administering the laws, to negotiate treaties, and to command the military • The president has 10 days to sign a bill or veto it, or it will automatically become a law • The Constitution gives the Senate the power of advice and consent for treaties and presidential appointments - Article III: The Judicial Branch • The Supreme Court and the other federal courts established by Congress have the authority to resolve lawsuits arising under the Constitution, national laws, and international treaties - Article IV: State-to-State Relations • In Article IV, the Constitution does describe how the states must respect the rights and liberties of the citizens of all states as well as the legal proceedings and decisions of the other states - Article V: The Amendment Process Framers provided processes amend the Constitution • • Article V describes two different procedures for proposing an amendment 15 Wren 1 6 - The first method requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate, after which Congress sends the approved proposal to the states for ratification - The second method (which has never been used) requires a special constitutional convention • Article V also outlines two avenues by which the second step may occur - An amendment is ratified by a vote of approval in either three-quarters of the state legislature or three-quarters of the special state conventions - Article VI: Supremacy of the Constitution • Article VI proclaims that the new national government will be legally responsible for all debts incurred by the Congress established by the Articles of Confederation • In addition, it states that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land - Article VII: The Constitutional Ratification Process • Ratification of the Constitution required the affirmative vote of special conventions in 9 of the 13 original states • The Federalist—Anti-Federalist Debate - Opponents of the proposed Constitution sent their issues in, urging the state legislatures to reject the document - The Federalist Papers: In Support of a Strong National Government • The authors of The Federalist Papers knew that achieving ratification depended on convincing the public and state legislators that the Constitution would empower the new nation to succeed - The Anti-Federalist Response: Concern for the Rights of Citizens and States 16 Wren 1 7 • Anti-Federalists argued that the Constitution ceded much too much power to the national government, at the expense of both the states and the people • Thomas Jefferson (anti-fed) insisted that the inclusion of a bill of rights in the Constitution was essential to protecting citizen’s rights - Hamilton (fed) reason that at some future time people might argue that because a given right was not specifically enumerated, it did not exist • Mercy Otic Warren affected public debate first over declassing independence from Great Britain then over ratifying the Articles of Confederation, and finally over ratifying the Constitution - “A Columbian Patriot” - presented a comprehensive argument against the proposed Constitution • Ratification (1788) and Amendment with the Bill of Rights (1791) - In the opening days of the first session of the newly constituted Congress in March 1789, James Madison introduced a bill of rights • Congress passed all 12 proposed amendments and sent them to the states for approval (10 out of 12 amendments were quickly ratified by the states) These natural rights became government-protected liberties, civil liberties, • thought the ratification process - The Constitution as a Living, Evolving Document • To win the votes needed to move the document form first draft through ratification, the framers had to negotiate and compromise over constitutional language • Judges have reinterpreted constitutional clauses many times - The Constitution has been formally amended, meaning the states have approved changes to the words in the document (only 27 times, however) 17 Wren 1 8 • The alteration of this document derives from a continuing conversation among citizens about the core beliefs and principles of the framers and the generations follow • Formal Amendment of the Constitution - Only a tiny fraction of the thousands of proposed amendments have cleared Congress • The amendments that the states have ratified fit into one of three categories - Extended civil liberties and civil rights (equal protection of laws for citizens) - Altered the selection of officials or operation of the branches of the national government - Dealt with important policy issues • Interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court - Beyond the addition of formal amendments, the Constitution has changed over time through reinterpretation by the courts • This began with Marbury v. Madison in 1803, in which the Court established the important power of judicial review - The deciding court must determine which of those points of reference it will use and how it will apply them to interpret the constitutional principles under consideration - Richard Beeman’s three recurring themes evident in Supreme Court ruling • The nature of the Constitution as a document that continues evolving as the courts interpret changing social norms The tensions created by the separation of powers and the dual sovereignty of • our federal system • The clarification of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights 18 Wren 1 9 - Changes to the Constitution, both formal and informal, are and further the will of the people because they are the product of widespread public discourse—an ongoing conversation of democracy - Conclusion: Thinking Critically About What’s Next of the Constitution Government created by the consent of the people with the mission of protecting the • people’s natural rights has proven difficult - Formally amended only 27 times since 1789, the vague language in the Constitution has been interpreted and reinterpreted over the past 225 years The framers believed that each generation should review and revise the • Constitution based on its experiences living under it, allowing the Constitution to evolve with society and technology University of Houston - American Democracy Now. (Texas Edition|Fourth Edition), McGraw Hill, 2014. Harrison, Harris, Halter, and Deardorff 19


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