The Principles of the Constitution
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The Principles of the Constitution

Welcome to the Principles of the Constitution a
study guide. Let’s start by talking about just what a
Constitution is. A Constitution is the rules for
running our government. It’s also considered to be the supreme law of the
land. No law can be written that goes against
the Constitution. And if there’s ever a doubt about what laws
should or should not be followed look to the Constitution because that is the top
law of the land. Now there are seven principles discussed in the
Constitution. Principles are the beliefs about the purpose and
the running of our government. These are the
purposes and beliefs of the people who originally wrote the Constitution and of the people who
have followed it over the years. The first principle is Popular Sovereignty. People power, or the government derives its
power from the people. Our government only has the power that the people give it and the
power behind government is the people. The second principle is Republicanism. I vote
for you. The people choose their government leaders. In a Republic the people elect representatives to
vote and speak for them in the government. Number three Limited Government. Only what I let you. Government only has the powers that the people
give it. Only those powers that are specifically listed in the Constitution or fall under the
guidelines of the elastic clause. The fourth principle is Federalism. Share the power. This means that the power to govern is shared
between the national and the state governments.
One of the biggest fears in writing the Constitution was that the national government
will become too much like a King or a Dictator. and take all power to control their own lives
away from the state’s. So we compromised by having three different
kinds of government powers. We have Enumerated Powers that belong only
to the Federal government and are specifically
listed in the Constitution. We have Reserved Powers which are powers
which are retained by the states. And then we
have Concurrent Powers or shared powers powers that belong to both the Federal and the
state governments. Things like the ability to make laws. Both the
Federal and State government can make laws. The ability to tax the people. Both the Federal
and the State government can tax people. So these three different kind of powers are part of Federalism. The fifth principle is Separation of Powers. Do
you own thang. Each branch of the government
has its own responsibilities. We have three branches of government. The Legislative Branch also known as Congress. It’s bicameral meaning two houses. That was
decided in the Great Compromise. Its primary duty is to make laws. The Executive Branch also known as the
President has the primary duty of enforcing the
laws. And the Judicial Branch also known as the
Supreme Court has the primary duty of
interpreting the laws. The sixth principle Checks and Balances. I’m
telling on you. Each branch can check or limit the power of the
other branches. Again this is another way of preventing
government from abusing its powers. And finally the seventh principle of the Constitution is
individual rights. Yes I can. Basic liberties and rights of all citizens are
guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. These Bill of Rights were added right after the
ratification of the Constitution. And their sole purpose is to guarantee protection
of the individual rights of the people who are
citizens of this country. And there you have the seven basic principles
that are encompassed in our Constitution.

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