Our constitutional framework


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Our constitutional framework

  1. 1. Our Constitutional Framework The US Constitution is the highest law of the land.
  2. 2. Our Constitution <ul><li>… longest-lasting written constitution in the world </li></ul><ul><li>… sets forth the basic framework of our government </li></ul>
  3. 3. Limited Government <ul><li>… government’s power is limited – NOT absolute </li></ul><ul><li>… created a government with the authority to pass laws only in the areas specifically listed in Article I of the Constitution </li></ul>
  4. 4. Separation of Powers <ul><li>… division of lawmaking power among three branches of government </li></ul><ul><li>Executive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily responsible for enforcing the law </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Legislative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Passes laws (statutes) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Judicial </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clarifies/interprets laws </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Checks and Balances <ul><li>Each branch of government is independent but each has the power to “check” or restrain the other branches so as not to allow abuse of power </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Congress investigating actions by the president or other government officials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Veto power of the president </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Judicial Review <ul><li>One of the most visible and important checks of one branch on another… </li></ul><ul><li>…enables a court to declare unenforceable any law passed by Congress or state legislature that conflicts with the Constitution </li></ul>
  7. 7. Federalism <ul><li>The division of power between the federal government and the state governments </li></ul><ul><li>The federal government’s powers are to make laws as listed under the Constitution – all remaining powers belong to the states. </li></ul><ul><li>This is why states have different criminal and civil laws. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Bill of Rights <ul><li>… first 10 amendments to the Constitution </li></ul><ul><li>… introduced by James Madison to secure ratification of the Constitution </li></ul><ul><li>… defines and guarantees fundamental rights and liberties including freedoms of religion, speech, and press </li></ul>
  9. 9. State Constitutions <ul><li>Most state constitutions reflect the major principles of the US Constitution. </li></ul><ul><li>All provide for different branches of government, separation of powers, checks and balances, and judicial review. </li></ul><ul><li>Mississippi’s constitution was adopted in 1890. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Unique Additions to the Mississippi Constitution <ul><li>Article 3: Bill of Rights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 7 (denying the right of secession), Section 12 (explicitly permitting regulation of concealed carry weapons) and Sections 26, 26A, and 29 (on conditions for grand jury and bail necessitated by the War on Drugs). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 18 discusses Freedom of Religion. It contains a unique clause which states that this right shall not be construed as to exclude the use of the Bible from any public school. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 19 originally banned dueling. The repeal of Section 19 was proposed by Laws of 1977, and upon ratification by the electorate on November 7, 1978, was deleted from the Constitution by proclamation of the Secretary of State on December 22, 1978. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. How can the Constitution be changed? <ul><li>A proposed amendment must be approved by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. </li></ul><ul><li>OR at a convention called by two-thirds of the states </li></ul><ul><li>In either case, the amendment must be ratified (approved) by three-fourths of the states. </li></ul><ul><li>Although difficult, there have been 27 amendments added to the Constitution reflecting the changing views of the citizens and their elected representatives. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Proposed Amendments <ul><li>Extend statehood to the District of Columbia. </li></ul><ul><li>Require the federal government to adopt a balanced budget. </li></ul><ul><li>Punish flag burning. </li></ul><ul><li>Ban abortions. </li></ul><ul><li>Equal Rights Amendment passed Congress in 1972 but failed to be ratified by the required 38 states. </li></ul><ul><li>Last amendment passed – the Twenty-Seventh Amendment in 1992 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First proposed by James Madison in 1789 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bans midterm congressional pay raises </li></ul></ul>