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Unformatted text preview: 1 CHAPTER 2: WHERE THE LAW COMES FROM Constitutional Law, the Constitutional Convention, and the Framers of the Constitution U.S. Constitution No Reading Creation of the U.S. Constitution By Hon. Jack Brooks, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, http://www.house.gov/house/Foreword.shtml (1992). For over 200 years, the [U.S.] Constitution has served as the cornerstone of our Nation's democracy and the principal guarantor of freedom and equality for all Americans. Yet, as important as these functions are, this remarkable document performs a perhaps even more vital role as a visible and enduring common bond between the diverse people of this great Nation. The genius of the Founding Fathers is reflected in the intricate set of checks and balances the Constitution builds into our system of government. By preventing any one of the three branches from acquiring dominance over the others, these structural and procedural safeguards have preserved a fundamental, albeit not always neat, separation of powers. Moreover, although developed over two centuries ago, they continue to perform this essential function despite the dramatic societal, technological, economic, and political changes in the United States over the past two centuries. The Framers made the conscious decision of choosing constitutional generality over the overly specific civil codes of the European nations. By so doing, they wisely built in a flexibility to accommodate change so that a living instrument of government could be passed down to succeeding generations. Just as important as the governmental structure established by Articles I through VII of the Constitution are the personal freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Approved by the First Congress in 1789 and ratified by the States in 1791, the first ten amendments to the Constitution--the Bill of Rights--assure basic individual liberties essential to a free and democratic society. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments continued the mission of the Bill of Rights by abolishing slavery, by assuring citizens due process in actions taken under color of State governments, and by taking the first steps toward providing suffrage for citizens regardless of race. These Constitutional guarantees have not only stood as a bulwark against governmental abuses in this country, but they have also provided inspiration to people around the world in their quest for individual freedom and liberty. The Constitution has served us well for over 200 years, but it will continue as a strong, vibrant, and vital foundation for freedom only so long as the American people remain dedicated to the basic principles on which it rests. Thus, as the United States sets a course into a third century of constitutional democracy, let us renew our commitment to, in the words of the Constitution's Preamble, "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the...
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This note was uploaded on 04/03/2008 for the course PSYC 277 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '07 term at University of Arizona- Tucson.
- Spring '07