The Constitution

HideShow resource information

The Philadelphia Convention

A convention held in 1787 which framed the US Constitution

1 of 20

Codified constitution

A constitution that consists of a full and authoritative set of rules written down in a single text

2 of 20

Why has the Constitution been amended so rarely?

  • Founding Forefathers made it a difficult process
  • Made it deliberatley unspecific
  • The Supreme Court can interpret its meaning leading to 'interpretative amendments' rather than 'formal amendments'
  • Americans have become cautious of tampering with it after the short lived prohibition amendment
3 of 20

Constitutional rights

The fundamental rights guaranteed by the federal Constitution

4 of 20

Separation of powers

A theory of governmnet whereby political power is distributed among three branches of government, acting both independently and interdependently

5 of 20

Limited government

A principle that the size and scope of the federal government should be limited to that which is necessary only for the common good of the people

6 of 20

Checks on the legislature by the excecutive

  • Recommend legislation
  • Veto legislation
7 of 20

Checks on the legislature by the judiciary

  • Judicial review
8 of 20

Checks on the executive by the legislature

  • Amend/delay/reject legislation
  • Override president's veto
  • Power of the purse
  • Declare war
  • Ratify treaties (Senate)
  • Confirm appointments (Senate)
  • Investigation
  • Impeachment, trial, conviction and removal from office
9 of 20

Checks on the executive by the judiciary

  • Judicial review
10 of 20

Checks on the judiciary by the legislature

  • Impeachment, trial, conviction, and removal from office
  • Propose constitutional amendments
11 of 20

Checks on the judiciary by the executive

  • Appointment of judges
  • Pardon
12 of 20

Does the US Constitution still work?


  • Federalism is an excellent compromise between strong national government and state government diversity
  • The text has been very adpatable to american society
  • The amendent process usually prevents ill-conceived amendments
  • Rights and liberties of Americans have been protected
  • Supreme Court as made the Constitution more adaptable to change
13 of 20

Does the US Constitution still work?


  • Amendment process is too difficult making it impossible to remove out-dated parts or add necessary changes
  • Supreme Court has to much power to 'amend' the meaning of the Constitution through judicial review
  • The Constitution is too negative
  • Some parts make no sense in today's society e.g. the Second Amendment
  • Some parts don't work as the Framers envisaged e.g. war-making power
14 of 20

What is federalism?

A theory of government by which political power is divided between a national government and state governments, each having their own area of substantive jurisdiction

15 of 20

Why did the role of the federal government increas

  • Westward expansion
  • The growth of the population
  • Industrialisation
  • Improvements in communication
  • The Great Depression
  • Foreign policy
  • Supreme Court decisions
  • Constitutional amendments
16 of 20

What are the consequences of federalism?

  • Legal consequences - a large variety in state laws e.g. the death penalty
  • Policy consequences - states can act as policy laboratories e.g. the legalisation of marijuana in Colarado
  • Political consequences - all elections are state-based and run under state law
  • Consequences for political parties - parties are de-centralised and the US is essentially a 100 party system
  • Economic consequences- federal grants given to the states as well as varying levels of taxation
  • Regionalism - the regions have become distinct
17 of 20

What are the pros of federalism?

  • Permits diversity
  • Creates more access points in government
  • Better protection of individual rights
  • States are policy laboratories
  • Well suited to a geographically large nation
18 of 20

What are the cons of federalism?

  • Can mask economic and racial inequalities
  • The federal-state government relationship is a continual source of conflict and controversy
  • Overly bureaucratic - costly to run and resistant to change
  • Frustrates the 'national will', making solving problems more complex
19 of 20

The process of amending the Constitution

  • A two step process
  • Both steps need super majorities of more than 50% (e.g. a two-thirds or three-quarters majority)
  • To be proposed there either needs to be a two-thirds majority in both houses or a national constitutional convention needs to be called by at least two-thirds of the states
  • To be ratified either three quarters of the state legislature must vote to ratify or three quarters of the states must hold conventions and vote to ratify
20 of 20


No comments have yet been made

Similar Government & Politics resources:

See all Government & Politics resources »See all Constitutional frameworks of US government resources »