Constitution

Where and when was the original document written?
Philadelphia, in 1787
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Who was the original document written by?
The Founding Fathers
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How many articles and words does the original document have?
Seven articles of over 7,000 words
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How does it compare in age to other written constitutions?
It is the oldest written constitution
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Why was it written in the first place?
As a result of the revolutionary war of independence and struggle against the tyranny of colonial rule
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What were its provisions influenced by?
The writings of political theorists such as Locke and Montesquieu
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What did it represent?
A sharp turn in US history and the beginning of the world's first modern democracy
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Is it still important now?
It is as important to the understanding of the operation of US government today as it was in the 18th century
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What is a constitution and what does it do?
An authoritative set of rules that seeks to establish the role, powers and functions of the institutions of government, regulate the relationships between them and define the relationship between the state and its citizens.
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What are the institutions of government?
Legislative, executive and judicial
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What is the first reason as to why the American constitution is so important?
Supreme law of the USA. Constitutional law is fundamental law which provides the rules of the government
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What is the second reason as to why the American constitution is so important?
It is the source and limitation of the power of the government
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What is the third reason as to why the American constitution is so important?
Provides the government with enough power to be strong and effective whilst protecting the individual liberties of citizens against the abuse of power
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What is the fourth reason as to why the American constitution is so important?
It balances the need for strong federal government with need to give autonomy to the states
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What is the fifth reason as to why the American constitution is so important?
It is codified in a single document and entrenched.
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What is the first main provision laid down in the constitution?
Representative and accountable government through the provison of fixed-term elections
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How often are the elections for president?
Every 4 years
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How often are the elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate?
Every 2 years
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When was the Senate not directly elected until?
1913
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What is the second main provision laid down in the constitution?
The separation of powers with the three branches of government separated through the first three articles of the constitution. The powers of each branch were then subject to checks and balances by the other two bodies
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What is the third main provision laid down in the constitution?
A federal structure of government with power divided between the federal government in Washington and the individual states
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What is the fourth main provision laid down in the constitution?
There was to be a limited government with citixzens given inalienable and entrenched rights in the Bill of Rights
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Which are the Bill of Rights?
The first 10 amendments
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When were the Bill of Rights added?
1791
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What do these four provisions/principles form?
The basis of the operation of US government today
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What does that mean they are crucial to?
The understanding of the workings of the executive, legislature and judiciary in the USA
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What was the separation of powers adopted from?
The writings of Montesquieu in 1748
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What did Montesquieu stress?
The need to avoid tyranny by fragmenting the power of government through the principle of separation of powers
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What are the functions of government?
Passing laws, executing laws and adjudicating on laws
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What is the theory of the separation of powers?
Each of the functions of government should be exercised by a different branch.
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In which Article is the legislature spoken about?
Article 1, Congress
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In which Article is the executive spoken about?
Article 2, President
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In which Article is the judiciary spoken about?
Article 3, Supreme Court
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What as the underlying aim of the separation of powers?
To avoid tyranny and protect liberty
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What does the theory of the separation of powers imply?
There should be a separation of personnel, with no overlap between the three branches
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What is an example of the separation of personnel?
Barack Obama and John Kerry had to give up their Senate seats when becoming president and secretary of state
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What else does the theory of the separation of powers imply?
The interdependence of the braches of government through the associated checks and balances placed on each of them, particularly the executive and legislative branches
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Why are the checks and balances placed on the branches of government?
To prevent any one of them from becoming too powerful
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Who is Richard Neustadt?
An American political scientist
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What did Richard Neustadt describe the American system as?
Not as a 'separation of powers' but as 'separate institutions sharing powers', where power is very difficult to exercise but where the branches have to work together to get things done
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Why is the separation of personnel not absolute?
There are a couple of overlaps
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What is the first overlap of the separation of personnel?
The vice-president is part of the executive and is also officially president of the Senate and can cast a tie-breaking vote.
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How many times did **** Cheney use his tie-breaking vote between 2001 and 2009?
8 times
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What is the second overlap of the separation of personnel?
The president can issue presidential pardons to convicted offenders, which is a judicial function.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Who was the original document written by?

Back

The Founding Fathers

Card 3

Front

How many articles and words does the original document have?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

How does it compare in age to other written constitutions?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Why was it written in the first place?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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