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The US Constitution
How did the US constitution come to be written?
The original 13 colonies rebelled against the tyranny of King
George III, and after gaining their independence they first signed
the Articles of Confederation, but this soon failed and the
Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, agreeing to the system
of federalism; having numbers of states with some powers and a
federal government to oversee everything; and was signed in
What are the key principles of the US Constitution?
· Federalism- A system of government, where power is divided
central/national government and several regional
governments in a written constitution.
· Popular Sovereignty- The concept that power rests with the
people, who can create, amend or abolish government, and
express this through elections.
· Checks & Balances- This is system where each branch has
several powers to limit each other, to prevent a abuse of
· Limited Government- Everyone, including authority figures,
must obey all laws. Constitutions, statement of rights or
other laws define the limits on these powers to ensure that
power is not abused.
· Judicial review- the Supreme Court's power to declare laws
and actions of the national, state and local governments
· Separation of powers- This is where all three branches of
government are separate from each other, with the
legislative making the law, the executive enforcing and
applying and the judicial branch checking it.
How do the checks and balances of the Constitution work?
Each branch of government has their own powers to check others
and have checks on their branch to ensure there is no abuse of
power. It works in a triangular system:
· The Legislative Branch; it can approve presidential
appointments, controls the budget, pass laws over the
President's veto, impeach the President, can also impeach
judges, confirms nominations to the Court and can also
make amendments to overrule the Court. However, the
checks on them include: declaring acts of Congress
unconstitutional, and vetoing congressional laws.
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The Executive Branch: Has the power to veto Congress'
laws, make nominations to the Supreme Court. It also has
many checks; the Court declares presidential acts
unconstitutional, and presides over impeachment hearings.
The Legislative branch has many checks over the President:
Rejecting his legislation, rejecting his budget, overriding his
veto, impeach him, confirming his executive/judicial
appointments and confirm his treaties.
· The Judicial Branch: The Court can declare acts of Congress
and the President unconstitutional.…read more
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An amendment must first be proposed to two Houses, and they
must vote together on an amendment for it proceed to the states
for ratification. The houses must approve it in a 2/3 majority
before heading to the states. It then must be ratified by ¾ of the
state legislatures, currently 38 states.…read more