The United States Constitution provides the foundation for a strong central government with authority to regulate interstate disputes and commerce, enforce citizens' rights and defend from hostile forces. However, much of it is too vague to provide definitive interpretations. It can be amended, but the process is slow. Citizens vote for representatives directly but don't get a direct vote on policies. There is no way to address bipartisanship.Know More
The Constitution is the structure of fundamental political precedents, procedures and principles that the federal government has operated from since its creation in 1789. It delegates certain responsibilities to federal bodies and others to states. The Constitution divides federal powers between three main branches defined by the separation of powers doctrine and provides a system of checks and balances to prevent one branch from overpowering the others.
The original portions of the Constitution, which included the Bill of Rights when ratified, are very specific about certain topics but vague about most others. Because it is vague, the Constitution is a living document, one that can adapt to changes by adding amendments and through judicial interpretation. This can be either a boon or a hindrance. Amendments add clarity to existing constitutional structure or add rights or restrictions. The original Constitution claimed to favor individual liberty but provided no support for women or slaves. In many cases, existing laws were exploited to keep these groups firmly situated. The 13th Amendment, in 1865, abolished slavery; the 14th, in 1870, made slaves citizens, gave black males the right to vote and guaranteed everyone equal protection under the law; and the 19th, in 1920, gave women the right to vote. Adaptability is the Constitution's greatest strength, but change requires great effort and time.Learn More
The two authors most commonly associated with the Federalist Papers are former U.S. President James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the U.S. treasury. The third author, John Jay, became the U.S. Supreme Court's first chief justice. Hamilton was responsible for writing most of the documents.Full Answer >
The Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution preserves the right to jury trials in civil cases in which the sum at stake is more than $20. It also guarantees that other courts cannot overturn the findings of facts in civil trials.Full Answer >
Ensuring domestic tranquility involves keeping the peace within the nation. It means preventing domestic terrorism at the hands of citizens and outsiders and controlling rebellious behavior that threatens to undermine national security.Full Answer >
The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1913, established the direct election of Senators by the people. Each state has two Senators who were originally chosen by the state legislatures. After the Civil War, an increasing number of issues involving bribery and corruption in the selection of Senators led to a movement in favor of direct election.Full Answer >