Past Questions: Constitution

Some answered, some not. This is a compilation of all the past paper questions (that were accessible at the time - there may be more now). Good source for practice questions without having to wade through the Edexcel website (which isn't very good...).

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ShortAnswer Questions (15)
Why, and to what extent, has there been disagreement about the constitutional
importance of federalism?
Explain the ways in which the Constitution seeks to prevent the 'tyranny of the
How and why is federalism enshrined in the Constitution?
How effectively do the three branches of Federal government check each other?
Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the process of amending the
Essay Questions (45)
`The US constitution is not fit for purpose'. Discuss
The US constitution has survived for over 200 years with no major crises or lapses in
approval. It has shown it is able to adapt, but not so much as to be weak ­ even the 18th and
21st Amendments (regarding prohibition) which arguably show it allowed populist rather than
important changes to occur also show an admirable method of selfrepair. Fundamentally,
the constitution is largely fit for purpose, despite having some, relatively minor, issues and
areas of incompatibility with modern society.
Yes ­ fit for purpose
MAJOR POINT 1: Stood the test of time ­ 200 years with no major constitutional
crises (even in e.g. 2000 election with Al Gore winning more votes but losing election)
MAJOR POINT 2: Federalism is a good compromise between central power and
representing the diversity of the nation ­ also, states act as little governments to test
things on
ADDITIONAL: Best evidence for it being fit for purpose: it suits the wants and needs of
the people ­ polls consistently show high approval ratings
Problems blamed on the constitution are actually down to partisan politicians ­ e.g.
debt ceiling gridlock
No ­ not fit for purpose
MAJOR POINT 3: It being old would be fine if it were not virtually impossible to amend
now (particularly with partisan nature of government) ­ e.g. Equal Rights Amendment
1972 (to end any genderbased discrimination), made it through Congress but didn't
get the required 38 states' approval
MAJOR POINT 4: SCOTUS is far too powerful ­ no appeal process to their decisions,
only an amendment (impossible) or a later SC decision can overturn rulings can rule
against bipartisan initiatives (e.g. Citizens United destroyed Bipartisan Campaign
Reform Act)
Too negative gives too much power to those who wish to block, not enough to those
who wish to change ­ e.g. debt ceiling, same in 956, Southern senators blocked civil
rights legislation, Clinton's healthcare, etc.

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Some of it just doesn't make sense ­ e.g. 2nd Amendment guns are far too easy to
get hold of (e.g. Columbine school, Tucson shootings, reforms always fall at 2nd
Notable omissions ­ e.g. no `one person, one vote' declaration
Despite some issues with the constitution, fundamentally speaking it is fit for purpose
and operates well, even in modern society.…read more

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Obama to do the same) checks and balances are now more a political
vehicle than a matter of improving the quality of govt
Nobody is happy ­ around 15% approval rating for Congress liberals think checks are
too stringent conservatives think it allows too much ­ this system pleases nobody
and is in need of a rethink
Like any compromise, no major group is particularly happy with the constitutional system of
checks and balances.…read more


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