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Overview of Constitutional Law

January 13, 2022

By Thomas McCutcheon

The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and the American Revolution was formally ended in 1783 with the signing of a final peace treaty with England. The Constitution

 was written in 1787 and ratified in 1788. Two years later, the Bill of Rights was added.

The Bill of Rights are the first ten Amendments to the Constitution. People think of the First Amendment as the right to free speech when actually there are five rights in by the First Amendment. The other nine Amendments in the Bill of Rights are important, but most are less well recognized, and we will go over those in another article. For now, it’s important to understand that the Constitution itself establishes the United States as a Republic, which is different that a true democracy and it establishes the duties and powers of each branch.

The Constitution is the blueprint for how our government works. Our government is divided into three branches (legislative, executive, and judicial). The Constitution doesn’t vest ultimate power in any single branch but creates a system of checks and balances on each in a manner that forms the working model of our government. I think it’s fair to say that the framers of our Constitution were highly educated people who had foresight, vision, and faith in democracy and self-rule. The Constitution was a series of compromises that were widely discussed in the Federalist Papers which are a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. They were published anonymously in New York State newspapers under the name of “Publius”.

The compromises and foresight in the Constitution are what allow this document to continue to be the law of the land. Article 1, describes and establishes the power of the legislature. It is a stroke of genius to have our legislature divided into the House of Representatives elected every two years and the Senate elected every six. The framers intended for congressmen who are elected every two years to be very responsive to the passions of the day. The senators are elected every two years for six years so that two-thirds of the Senate is always at least four years away from re-election and thus insulated for some time while those passions cool, and thought is given to problems of the day. Literally, the Senate is designed for cooling hot legislation.

Next week we are going to talk about checks and balances in the Constitution. Do you know your 3rd Amendment Rights?

Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!


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