The U.S. Constitution states that a democratic government rules us. The Constitution divides our government into three branches:
The legislative branch (or Congress) is making laws. Congress is additionally collecting taxes to pay for the nation’s services.
The executive branch is carrying out the laws. The President heads this branch. Every four years, a new President is elected.
The judicial branch consists of our nation’s courts. They decide on what the laws mean and if they were followed. Every single person, including the U.S. Government and each one of its officials, is required to follow our nation’s laws.
Limits on Government
The Constitution contains checks & balances to make sure that one branch will not become stronger than the others. In our system, the President is making treaties, and he or she will also choose our judges.
Congress may reject these judges or treaties. Congress is making the laws, and the President, again, may veto those laws. Our courts can decide on whether a law is in line with the Constitution. If they find a law unconstitutional, the law will no longer be in effect.
The Constitution has created our federal system. The national U.S. government controls national issues. These include defense, postal service, printing money, and trade.
State governments have power over all sorts of local issues. The States control elections and education. Both systems are collecting taxes and establish the courts. Our Federal laws have more power than our state laws, and the highest law in our country is the Constitution.
Changing our Constitution
The U.S. Constitution was written in a way that it might be changed as our country changes. Amendments to the Constitution become law if two-thirds (2/3) of all the members of the U.S. House and Senate are voting for it. Then three-fourths (3/4) of our states also need to ratify the amendment. The first ten (10) amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights is protecting rights; for example, freedom of speech, and the tenth (10th) amendment is limiting the power of our federal government. In 1790, our Constitution wasn’t protecting the rights of every individual American citizen.
Many persons and organizations have fought for individual or common rights and succeeded.
Today, the American Constitution provides equal protection to practically all citizens.
Video Summary and Quiz
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Last Updated on February 6, 2021.