Ch 2 Notes The Constitution
Ch 2 Notes The Constitution P SC 1113
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Rebecca Hurlburt on Wednesday September 2, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to P SC 1113 at University of Oklahoma taught by Dr. Tyler Johnson in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 206 views. For similar materials see American Federal Government in Political Science at University of Oklahoma.
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Date Created: 09/02/15
Chapter 2 The Constitution Week 2 Notes for American Federal Government P SC 1113 Chapter Notes Vocabulary May ower Compact a document drawn up by Pilgrim leaders in 1620 on the ship May ower The document stated that laws were to be made for the general good of the people Bill of Rights the rst ten amendments to the US Constitution They list the freedoms such as the freedoms of speech press and religion that a citizen enjoys and that cannot be infringed on by the government First Continental Congress a gathering of delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies held in 1774 to protest the Coercive Acts Second Continental Congress the congress of the colonies that met in 1775 to assume the powers of a central government and to establish an army unicameral legislature a legislature with only one chamber confederation a league of independent states that are united only for the purpose of achieving common goals Articles of Confederation the nation s rst national constitution which established a national form of government following the American Revolution The Articles provided for a confederal form of government in which the central government had few powers Shay s Rebellion a rebellion of angry farmers in western Massachusetts in 1786 led by former Revolutionary War captain Daniel Shays Constitutional Convention the convention of delegates from the states that was held in Philadelphia in 1787 for the purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation In fact the delegates wrote a new constitution the US Constitution that established a federal form of government bicameral legislature a legislature made up of two chambers or parts Great Compromise a plan for a bicameral legislature in which one chamber would be based on population and the other chamber would represent each state equally Also known as the Connecticut Compromise three fths compromise a compromise reached during the Constitutional Convention by which three fths of all slaves were to be counted for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives interstate commerce trade that involves more than one state Federalists a political group led by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams that supported the adoption of the Constitution and the creation of a federal form of government AntiFederalists a political group that opposed the adoption of the Constitution faction a group of persons forming a cohesive minority tyranny the arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power by an oppressive individual or government rule of law a basic principle of government that requires those who govern to act in accordance with established law federal system a form of government that provides for a division of powers between a central government and several regional governments commerce clause the clause in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce commerce involving more than one state Madisonian Model the model of government devised by James Madison in which the powers of the government are separated into three branches legislative executive and judicial separation of powers the principle of dividing governmental powers among the legislative the executive and the judicial branches of government checks and balances a major principle of American government in which each of the three branches is given the means to check to restrain or balance the actions of the others veto power a constitutional power that enables the chief executive president or governor to reject legislation and return it to the legislature with reasons for the rejection This either prevents or delays the bill from becoming law The Beginnings of American Government The First English Settlements The rst settlement was Jamestown Virginia in 1607 o The rst colony was Plymouth colony settled by the Pilgrims in Plymouth Massachusetts in 1620 This group wrote the May ower Compact named after their ship which was the rst written form of government in America Some of the Pilgrims left Plymouth for Connecticut There they developed America s rst written constitution the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut By 1732 the original 13 colonies were established all with their own constitutions and governments Many of these constitutions in uenced the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights Colonial Legislatures Because the motherland Britain was so far away the colonies developed their own forms of legislature The earliest was the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1619 but by the American Revolution every colony had a legislature this political experience helped the colonies to quickly form a stable government after winning the Revolution The Rebellion of the Colonists Taxation without Representation To pay off the debts gained during the Seven Years War the British government decided to place taxes on goods that Americans imported form Europe One of these taxes was the Stamp Act Nine of the thirteen colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in New York City where they drafted a declaration of grievances which was sent to King George III The Stamp Act was then repealed This would mark the rst time that the colonies united against the British government More taxes were passed which eventually led to the Boston Tea Party where colonist threw tea into the harbor to boycott the taxes on British Tea After the Boston Tea Party Britain took swift action with the Coercive Acts also known as the Intolerable Acts which placed the government of Massachusetts under direct British control The Continental Congresses The First Continental Congress took place on September 5 17 74 in Carpenter s Hall in Philadelphia Only Georgia did not participate They agreed to send a petition to King George and to continue boycotting British goods They also established committees to be out to use in ever town to ensure that everyone was adhering to the boycott The British did not respond well to the petition and saw it as an act of rebellion British troops attacked American militia Minutemen at Lexington Battle of Lexington and Concord Less than a month later the Second continental congress declared that the militiamen around Boston were now a full army and made George Washington commander in chief However the colonists still did not intend to separate from Britain and wished to achieve peaceful reconciliation Breaking the Ties Independence One of the most famous arguments for independence was Thomas Paine s Common Sense In this pamphlet he presented the argument that America was economically and politically sufficient to survive on its own and that America no longer needed Britain Common Sense helped sever the loyalty that many Americans still felt to Britain removing the obstacle of independence The colonies soon cut all economic ties with Great Britain opening up free trade with all other nations They had to cut ties with Britain to get supplies for their army and military support from other nations On July 4 l7 7 6 the declaration of Independence was adopted officially ending all relations with Britain All of the colonies became sovereign states with their own constitutions and limited government Because of their fear of big government the colonists made their governments with very weak executive branches republicanism This actually interfered with America s ability to win the Revolutionary War because it was very difficult for the national government to raise funds for the military However some leaders such as George Washington and Alexander Hamilton were in favor of a strong central government nationalists The Confederation of Stew The Articles of Confederation Originally the US was a confederation a voluntary association of independent states with a central government with very few powers such as forming a military The Congress of the Confederation was the central governing body under the Articles of Confederation Each state could send 27 representatives but each state only had one vote Under the Articles the Northwest Ordinance settled disputes about the new territories and the 1783 Peace Treaty with Britain gave America all the territory east of the Mississippi River However the central government was weak and could not support its military meaning it could not enforce laws It was also extremely dif cult to pass laws because nine out of thirteen states had to agree The Articles of Confederation was a good first draft for the Constitution and at least half of it appeared in the Constitution itself A Time of Crisis the 1780s Because the Articles of Confederation were weak the states were acting independently which caused tension between the states and with other nations Farmers angry about their debts formed a small militia and caused riots in Massachusetts This rebellion was named after their leader Shays and was called Shays Rebellion This and other incidents proved to Americans that a stronger central government was needed to establish control At a meeting in Annapolis Maryland Alexander Hamilton and James Madison both supporters of strong national government convinced the other states to hold a convention where they would revise the Articles of Confederation Drafting and Ratifving the Constitution Who Were the Delegates Some of America s most famous leaders were present George Washington Alexander Hamilton James Madison George Mason Robert Morris and Benjamin Franklin Others were not Thomas Jefferson John Adams and Patrick Henry All of the delegates were members of the elite there were no farmers or simple men There was some suspicion that the wealthy men were using the new constitution to avoid paying debts but this was disproved The Virginia Plan A bicameral legislature the lower chamber elected by the people and the upper chamber elected by the lower chamber Higher population more representatives National executive branch which would be elected by the legislature A national court system also created by the legislature Strongly favored the larger states which made the smaller states unhappy The New Jersey Plan Congress could regulate trade and impose taxes Each state would have one vote Acts of Congress would be the supreme law of the land Executive office with more than one person would be elected by the legislature Executive office would appoint to the national supreme court This plan was fairer to the smaller states The Compromises The Great Compromise Connecticut Compromise resolved the issue between the states by calling for a bicameral legislature the lower chamber House of Representatives would be elected according to population so the larger states would have more votes but the upper chamber the Senate would have two members form each state providing the equality that the smaller states required The Three fths Compromise de ned each slave as three fths of a person when counting population to determine number of representatives in the House This was deemed necessary because most slave owners were southern and northemers did not want the South to have too much of an advantage populationwise Many delegates wanted slavery to be completely banned To settle this dispute the Convention compromised by ending the importation of slaves however domestic slave trading was untouched The South allowed Congress to control interstate commerce and commerce with other nations provided that Congress would not tax exported goods as this was the main economy in the South Defining the Executive and the Judiciary Under the Articles there was not a strong executive branch To x this the Convention created an independent executive the president which would be elected by an electoral college and not directly by the people The president would have power to appoint people to of ce although Congress has a say in major appointments They also created the Supreme Court which would be above the state courts The delegates also wrote into the Constitution that any federal of cial may be removed form of ce if twothirds of the Senate nd him or her guilty of any wrongdoing The Final Draft is Approved On September 17 1787 the nal draft was approved by 39 of the remaining 42 delegates some left early One question that remains is why the delegates did not ban slavery in the Constitution as many of them believed that it was morally wrong and it went against the statement made in the Declaration of Independence that all men are crested equal However it is more than likely that if the antislavery delegates had tried to ban slavery at this time the southern delegates would never have approved the Constitution The Debate over Ratification The Federalists were in favor of a strong central government and the new Constitution They wrote 85 essays known as the Federalist Papers which argued for the Constitution Many Americans were afraid that in such a large nation there would be so many groups struggling for power that chaos would ensue The Federalists attempted to mitigate these fears by writing that in actuality the size of the nation would actually provide for so many diverse interests that no one group would be large enough to gain control of the government o The Antifederalists feared that a central government established by the wealthy elite would lead to tyranny They wrote their own essays in response to the Federalist Papers They argued that the Constitution needed a bill of rights and would not ratify it without one In order to gain the necessary support although they did not want it the Federalists agreed to add a bill of rights to the Constitution Rati cation Although it took several years by June of 1790 all of the states rati ed the Constitution making it the new centerpiece of a new government Did a Majority of Americans Support the Constitution We can not accurately measure public support of the Constitution because only rich white men could vote However it would seem that most Americans were troubled by the weakness of the national government under the Articles of Confederation and would have been satis ed with the new stronger government The Constitution s Major Principles of Government Limited Government Popular Sovereignty and the Rule of Law Limited government means that the government can only do what the people give it the power to do The rst three articles of the Constitution tell exactly what the government can do while the rst nine amendments tell exactly what it cannot do Popular sovereignty means that in the end the people have the power and the government cannot act without their consent Rule of law means that no one is above the law not even government of cials The Principle of Federalism The national government shares sovereignty with the states governments The president is the chief executive of the nation and the national Congress is supreme over state congresses The national government can also coin money levy taxes and regulate interstate commerce However the states can regulate commerce within their own borders and exercise any powers not expressly given to the national government in the Constitution Separation of Powers Separation of powers prevents any one person or group from controlling the government The legislative branch passes the laws the executive branch administers and enforces the laws and the judicial branch interprets the laws Checks and Balances The president checks Congress by holding veto power the ability to return bills to Congress for reconsideration Congress controls taxes and spending while the Senate must approve presidential appointments The judicial branch checks the other branches through judicial review the ability to rule presidential or congressional acts unconstitutional The president appoints the judges and the Senate must approve the president s appointments Staggered terms of of ce also make it dif cult for one person or group to completely control the government The Bill of Rights To appease the Antifederalists the Federalists allowed for a bill of rights The state governments sent suggestions for amendments that could go into the bill of rights Eventually this list was whittled down to ten amendments which became the Bill of Rights Amending the Constitution since the Bill of Rights only 17 amendments have been rati ed and added to the Constitution This is partly because the Constitution makes it very dif cult to have an amendment rati ed To propose an amendment either twothirds of the House and the Senate must vote for it all 27 amendments were proposed this way or twothirds of the state legislatures must request that congress call a national amendment convention has never happened To ratify an amendment either threefourths of the state legislatures must vote in favor of the proposed amendment used 26 times or the states can call call conventions where three fourths of the states must approve used to ratify the 21st amendment Lecture Notes Amending the Constitution The Ratification Battle Known con ict Federalists vs Antifederalists Lesser known does the document need a Bill of Rights Bill of rights traditional to many English Bill of Rights states had their own bill of rights Hamilton argues a Bill of Rights is unnecessary failure of Federalist 84 no one agreed that a Bill of Rights was not necessary Why Govemment s small Why Many rights already included Why Redundant states already had bill of rights Why If you care about federal power making a list is dangerous government will nd its way around a list A rare failure for Federalists Bill of Rights promised under the new government James Madison father of the Constitution and father of the Bill of Rights The concept still divisive The congressional process whittles down the list 20 to 17 to 11 to 12 10 eventually rati ed Gregory Watson stepfather of the 27th Amendment salvages 1 from the scrap heap The 17 amendments that followed Extending rights e g prohibiting slavery extending voting Adjusting election rules e g direct election of senators presidential term limits Modify government operations e g presidential succession inauguration Expand or adjust government power e g income tax prohibition 4 ways constitutions can change Revolution Amendments Interpretation Construction Amendability Too rigid Legitimacy might drop times change people change but imagine if constitution couldn t Too easily revised Constitution becomes a weapon Strong run roughshod over weak Amendments are long shots 10000 amendments introduced 27 successive stories and 10 of those at once What s been proposed recently New rights to housing to quality education to a clean safe sustainable environment New electoral rules eliminate Electoral College limit campaign contributions establish term limits New values de ne marriage prohibit ag desecration make English the official language permit prayer in school Rising to the Constitutional level consider the 18th amendment prohibition Important enough for an amendment Or could it have been handled by Congress or the states Also a good example of times changing changing again Why go constitutional Frustration with government decisionmaking as is Proposing an amendment First path 23 vote in both houses of Congress Second path unused so far national convention called by congress at request of 23 of state legislatures Too dangerous or unpredictable to call a convention Ratification First path used 26 times 34 of state legislatures approved Second path used once for the 18th amendment ratifying conventions in 34 of states Time limits on ratification in modern times Some states do it differently Make it harder amendment must pass in consecutive sessions Make it easier simple majorities of legislatures rather than 23 to propose Open up the process let citizens vote on amendments through initiatives Ex Califomia s constitution has 500 amendments Stealth Amending 39 Supreme Court interpretation of what amendments mean is key Ex 14th Amendment s citizenship rights and equal protection 39 Proposed to deal with issues regarding former slaves Interpretation over time far reaching Famous cases related to 14h amendment interpretation 39 Arguments regarding substantive due process Lochner Griswold Roe Obergfell 39 Arguments regarding equal protection Plessy Korematsu Brown Loving Bakke Arguments regarding incorporation Gitlow Mapp Gideon Judicial interpretation Article III is silent allowing courts to evolve 39 How they evolve depends on how judges approach their jobs Do they defer to legislators or executives Do they have ideologies Common Approaches 39 Strict construction Congress can only do what is in the Constitution Textualism plain meaning of what a law says no philosophies Original intent go back to the reasoning behind laws 39 Modernism realize Constitution was written 200 years ago and allow for change in values and philosophies Which if any of these approaches seems the most legitimate The least legitimate Who Represents Me Essay 1 was asked to add the rubric for the essay for anyone who may have missed Monday s lecture Federal level your US House member State level your state House member Local level your city council member Ask yourself it i registered to vote what address would I use your home address or your address in Norman Base your research off this address include your zipped in the essay put it with your header The Rubric worth 5 points of total grade 05 Local representative 05 State representative 05 Federal representative 15 Representative positions 1 Student position match with representatives 05 Writing and grammar 05 The Wow Factor 2 to 3 pages double spaced Use any citation format that you want Due at the start of class on Monday September 14 1 copy in person 1 copy on D2L Remember penalties for lateness eventual penalties for no D2L or no in person copies
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