A Synopsis of the U.S. Constitution
Purposes stated in The Preamble to enable a more perfect union to be established 1. establish justice 2. insure domestic tranquillity 3. provide for a common defense 4. promote the general welfare 5. secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity 1. The meaning of each purpose 1. Set up a judiciary system with National and State courts. 2. Establish a military force with the intent of enforcing the law and to protect the citizens of the Nation and to put down rebellion. 3. Establish a National army that will protect each and every state from foreign invasions and a common enemy. 4. A President would be appointed to act in the interests of the people and not his own. To keep up trade and promote economic stability. The appointed congress will serve to express the needs of the people. Also to establish a general school system. 5. To separate the Church and the State in all government matters. To establish a system of checks and balances in the government, in order to ensure that a monarchy is not established. In addition the power of amendment is given to insure that the constitution will secure a perfect union for all times and to insure that although a faultless government would not be established its mistakes could always be remedied for the good of the Nation. 2. The underlying principle behind the Constitution is to address and correct the grievances voiced against the government established by the Articles of Confederation, which was deemed inadequate and ineffective for the needs of the new nation. Its purpose is to form a unified system to benefit their common interest and their permanent harmony. By forming a written Constitution they removed the problems which existed in England under Common Law. To insure the rights of man, outlined in the Declaration of Independence, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The government will now be a government of the people. Executive Legislative Judiciary President can, with consent of 2/3 of Senate, make treaties Congress, which is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, is given all legislative powers Judicial power goes to one Supreme Court and other inferior courts established by Congress President can appoint Ambassadors, Supreme Court Judges, Ministers, Consuls and all other offices not otherwise provided for by other branches. Senate will appoint a President over themselves when there is no Vice President or he is unavailable to serve for them Judicial power extends to all laws, treaties, cases affecting Ambassadors and other public ministers, cases under maritime law, Vice President will serve as President of the Senate. Only can vote when the vote is tied House of Reps. has complete and sole power of impeachment Judicial power extends to all controversies which the U.S. is involved in, controversies between two or more states, between citizens of different states and between citizens claiming the land of another state President can give a State of A Union address to the Congress to discuss his ideas and recommendations for the future Can change laws regarding the election of Senators and House Reps. The Supreme Court Can deem any bill or act of the Executive or Legislative branch unconstitutional President can convene with both houses together in extraordinary cases can punish members of own house and expel fellow members with a 2/3 vote President will ensure that the laws be faithfully executed Determines the time and day for choosing the Electors for the Executive branch and their consequent vote President will appoint all the Officers of the U.S. Can deem the President or Vice President incapable of performing his/her duties and appoint a new President or Vice President until the Pres. can once again serve or a new election is held President will be the Commander in Chief of the Army, Navy, and state militias House of Reps. creates all bills for raising revenue. Senate may amend these bills President must be presented with all bills passed by Congress. House which submitted a vetoed bill will amend it reconsider it and send it to the other house where if it is approved by a 2/3 vote it becomes a law without Presidential approval President can veto any bill passed by Congress and return it to congress along with his objections Congress can lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the U.S. President can grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the U.S. except in cases of Impeachment Can borrow money on the credit of the U.S. Can regulate foreign and interstate trade Can trade with Indian tribes Can establish a rule of naturalization Can establish laws regarding Bankruptcy Can coin money, regulate currency values Can set standards of weights and measures Can establish a post office and build post roads Can insure protection of Intellectual property rights Can institute courts inferior to the Supreme court Can define and punish crimes on the high seas and offenses against the laws of Nations Can declare war and make rules concerning the capture of water and land Congress may block the President's appointment of Supreme Court judges and Heads of Departments if they find the President's choice to be inferior Can call for the militia to execute the laws of the Union, to suppress insurrections and repel invasions Can organize arm and discipline the Militia Can exercise exclusive legislation over the district which becomes the seat of the Government of the U.S. Can erect forts, arsenal, dock-yards and other needful buildings Congress determines sight of a trial if the crime was not committed within any state Can declare punishment for treason Can admit new states to the Union Congress has power to make or remove any rules and regulations concerning territory of the U.S. Congress must protect all states against Domestic Violence Congress can amend the Constitution with a 2/3 vote Has power to make all laws to execute the above powers The concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances are built into our Constitution. The Vice President, a part of the Executive branch, serves as President of the Senate, part of the Legislative branch. The Supreme Court has the power to check any action of the other two branches by deeming it unconstitutional. The House of Representatives can impeach a President that is not acting in the best interest of the people. Congress can declare war and organize the military and navy, but the President acts as the Commander in Chief of the military during the wars. Congress can create the laws, but the President can veto them. Congress can block the President's appointment of Supreme Court Justices and other government officials. In these examples, it can be seen that each branch has a check in each of the other two branches. The purpose of this is to provide a balance so that one branch doesn't become too powerful over any of the others. There is also a separation of the powers of each of the branches. The Legislative branch has powers, all of which enable them to be the sole creators of the laws and representatives of the states/people. The Executive branch is given powers that enable them to execute the laws. The Judiciary branch is given power to ensure that all actions are constitutional and to make sure that the Constitution is abided by. This system of checks and balances and separation of powers all goes back to the original purposes as stated in the Preamble. The formation of a perfectly balanced government will satisfy all the needs of this newly unified nation. No Military Power: The Constitution of the United States granted the Legislative and Executive branches strong military powers. The Congress was granted the power to allocate funds for military purposes and was granted the power to declare war on a enemy. The President was given the power to call upon the state militias, nationalize them, and order them to execute his orders. The President was made leader (Commander-in -Chief) of the army, giving him full control over the military. This clearly was a vast improvement over the A.O.C. which gave no military power to the government. eighth section of Article I, clearly grants Congress the power to "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes." This power along with the enumerated powers which coincide with it, now gave the Federal government power to regulate Congress, an important part for a successful government. the United States created a strong executive branch made up of a President, V.P. and cabinet members. The executive department was given full power to execute the laws of the United States, head the armed forces, appoint ambassadors and other federal officers (including the Supreme Court Justices), and make treaties with foreign Nations. Most importantly the Executive department through the President was given the power to veto any law which Congress passed (a vital component to our checks and balances system). The Constitution of the United States not only addressed the importance to create an Executive branch, but also created through it an important check on the vast powers of Congress. the United States created a federal Supreme Court and outlined the powers and limits of that court. Article III also gave Congress the power to "ordain and establish" inferior courts. The inferior court system and Supreme court of our country outlined in the Constitution of the United States filled the need for a federal court system which existed under the Articles of Confederation. authors of the Constitution of the United States clearly saw that they could not form a "faultless government" (George Mason) and saw that a reason to amend the Constitution of the United States in would arise in the future. They saw that the A.O.C. were nearly impossible to amend (requiring a unanimous vote). To remedy that fault of the A.O.C. the Constitution of the United States granted Congress the power to amend the Constitution with a 2/3 vote and with the consequent approval of 2/3 of the states. It also gave the States the power to call another Constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution. These two amending processes only required 2/3 of the states or of Congress approval to pass, thus clearing away the unanimous approval required under the A.O.C. which made amendments nearly impossible. 2/3 vote of Congress is very hard to obtain. Under the A.O.C. nothing within their weak powers could be done because a law required a 2/3 vote of approval. The Constitution fixed this problem by lowering that requirement to a majority's approval. This made the passage of laws much easier and made the government much more efficient.