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Summary study_ch02 - Chapter Two Constitutional Democracy...

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Chapter Two Constitutional Democracy: Promoting Liberty and Self-Government Chapter Outline I. Before the Constitution: The Colonial and Revolutionary Experiences A. “The Rights of Englishmen” B. The Declaration of Independence C. The Articles of Confederation D. Shays’s Rebellion: A Nation Dissolving II. Negotiating Toward a Constitution A. The Great Compromise: A Two-Chamber Congress B. The North-South Compromise: The Issue of Slavery C. A Strategy for Ratification D. The Ratification Debate E. The Framers’ Goals III. Protecting Liberty: Limited Government A. Grants and Denials of Power B. Using Power to Offset Power C. Separated Institutions Sharing Power: Checks and Balances 1. Shared Legislative Powers 2. Shared Executive Powers 3. Shared Judicial Powers D. The Bill of Rights E. Judicial Review IV. Providing for Self-Government A. Democracy Versus Republic B. Limited Popular Rule C. Altering the Constitution: More Power to the People 1. Jeffersonian Democracy: A Revolution of the Spirit 2. Jacksonian Democracy: Linking the People and the Presidency 3. The Progressives: Senate and Primary Elections V. Constitutional Democracy Today Chapter Summary The Constitution is a reflection of the colonial and revolutionary experiences of the early Americans. Freedom from abusive government was a reason for the colonists’ revolt against British rule, but the English tradition also provided ideas about government, power, and freedom that were expressed in the Constitution and earlier in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution was designed to provide for a limited government in which political power would be confined to its proper uses. The Framers wanted to ensure that the government they were creating would not itself be a threat to freedom. To this end, they confined the national government to expressly granted powers and also denied it specific powers. Other prohibitions on government were later added to the Constitution in the form of stated guarantees of individual liberties—the Bill of Rights. The most significant constitutional provision for limited government, however, was separation of powers among the three branches. The powers given to each branch enable it to act as a check on the exercise of power by the others, an arrangement which, during the nation’s history, has in fact served as a barrier to abuses of power. The Constitution, however, made no mention of how the powers and limits of government were SG – 2 | 1
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to be judged in practice. In its historic ruling in Marbury v. Madison , the Supreme Court assumed the authority to review the constitutionality of legislative and executive actions and to declare them unconstitutional and thus invalid. The Framers of the Constitution respected the idea of self-government but distrusted popular majorities. They designed a government that they felt would temper popular opinion and slow its momentum, so that the public’s true interest (which includes a regard for the rights and interests of the minority) would guide public policy. Different methods were established to select
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