• Created by: mkimani
  • Created on: 22-11-18 16:52


1.1 US Consitution


  • codified - one single, authoritative document
  • entrenched - difficult to amend or judiciable (other laws can be judged against it)
  • many vague elements, open to interpretation. Many clearly enumerated powers, but often unclear e.g. Clear powers include article 1 section 8 which provides a list of congressional powers - this is the necessary 
  • Has 27 amendments since being written

Vagueness Problems

  • constitution could fail to regulate political practice - meant too regulate politicians and set the rules of the political game- the vagueness could undermine its authority and that of the SC. For example, in 2015 Obergefell v Hodges in stating that marriage was a constitutional right, some politicians and even a member of the SC was no longer following the constitution, essentially making up new rules; loss of respect can have dire effects
  • The SC could become imperial; vagueness allows justices to apply their own individual ideologies when ruling on a case, each on the 9 have a clear bias to a judicial philosophy. E.g liberal justices typically interpret the Const. to acheive liberal outcomes. 8th amendment has been used by some to allow the death penalty while others say its unconstituional
  • Could be sig conflift; lack of clarity leads to strong disputes, with each side claiming their view is more legitimate. Conservatives and liberals continue to argue about how far the constitution allows the federal government to control the states e.g. increasing divide between Democratic and Republican parties about issues like gay rights, race and policies like the Affordable Care Act

Amendment process

  • proposed by 2/3 of the house and senate OR 2/3 of state legislatures. Ratified by 3/4 state legislatures OR ratifyig conventions in 3/4 of states 


  • any amendment will have the support of a clear majoirty of the USA
  • pointless/needless amendments will not be passed; stops the abuse of power by preventing political parties from making needless constitutional amendments for their own benefit; a key aim of the founding fathers; the current process requires bipartisan support. Prevents short term or irrational thinking entering the Constitution as several proposals can be seen as knee-jerk reactions to a current event of supreme court ruling; many commentators felt this about gay rights
  • preserves the sanctity of the US constitution and ratification retains federalism; protecting key principles of the political process- this is ensured through the 10th amendment and the amendment process, as well as small states receiving equal representation in the Senate and electoral college.Founding fathers made some principles almost completely immune from change, such as the requirement for a republic to be a guranteed form of govt.


  • 5% of the population can effectively stop an amendment - undemocratic as goes against the concept of majoritarian democracy; only 13/50 states need to oppose it and it would be possible, although unlikely, for 13 smallest states to block an amendment proposal. True in Congress where some amendments like the Flag Protection Act have received more than 50% in Congress but haven't achieved a super…


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