Unformatted text preview: Chapter 1
History, Structure, and Content of
the United States Constitution
the Early Steps Toward National Unity
In 1643 - the New England Confederacy
the colonies of Massachusetts, New
Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven
for mutual defense against the Dutch and
Indians. National Unity
When the First Continental Congress
assembled in Philadelphia in 1774, all
colonies except Georgia sent delegates.
colonies Articles of Confederation
In 1776, a committee was appointed to study
the problem of greater centralization. This
committee wrote the Articles of
Confederation, which went into effect in
March of 1781.
March History of the U.S. Constitution
After declaring their independence, the 13
former colonies immediately began working
on state constitutions to prepare for
statehood. New Hampshire was first to
complete this process.
By 1779, all 13 former colonies had
constitutions in place.
constitutions Drafting the Constitution of the
In February of 1787, the Congress established under
Articles of Confederation adopted a resolution
calling for a convention to consider revision.
55 delegates, representing every state except
Rhode Island, assembled in Philadelphia and
selected George Washington as their unanimous
choice to preside over the Convention. The
session lasted nearly four months.
session Ratification by the States
Public sentiment was mixed.
The Federalist Papers
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and
John Jay undertook the task of selling the
Constitution to the people. They argued that
a strong central government was necessary
to ensure political stability and national
security. The opposition
Their opponents countered that:
– Granting the federal government the power to
tax was dangerous
– The Constitution lacked a Bill of Rights and the
assurance of a fair trial
– Concentrating so much power in the federal
government threatened the sovereignty of the
states Ratification by the States
From June 1787 through June 21, 1788
advocates gathered the supporters of the
On June 21, 1788 New Hampshire became
the ninth state to ratify the Constitution.
April 30, 1789, George Washington was
inaugurated as the first president of the
United States. Final Acceptance
North Carolina and Rhode Island remained
outside the Union.
The passage by Congress of a tariff on
foreign imports, including goods imported
from North Carolina and Rhode Island,
drove them into the union. North Carolina
and Rhode Island ratified the Constitution
on November 21, 1789, and May 29, 1790,
Within a span of 25 years, the 13 former
colonies accomplished two major victories.
They won the War of Independence and
established a firm and stable government
that has endured for more than 200 years.
that Structure and Content of the
Constitution Article I
– Establishes the legislative branch of
government. Article II
– Establishes the executive branch of
government. Article III
– Establishes the judicial branch of government. Structure and Content of the
Constitution Article IV
– Establishes the duties states owe one another. This
includes full faith and credit to the laws of sister states.
includes Article V
– Establishes procedures for amending the Constitution. Article VI
– Contains the supremacy clause. Article VII
– Historic importance only. Division of Power between the
National Government and the States
National The federal government is a government of
enumerated and limited powers.
enumerated While the federal government is a
government of enumerated and limited
powers, it is supreme within its sphere of
operation. All powers that have not been delegated to
the federal government and that the states
are not prohibited from exercising belong to
the Powers Granted to the Federal
The powers granted to the federal
government are found primarily in Article I,
Section 8 of the Constitution.
Section Powers Granted to the Federal
A. The Power to Levy Taxes and Make
Expenditures for the National Defense
and General Welfare
The power to tax is essential because
governments cannot survive without a
source of revenue. Congress occasionally
uses its taxing powers for regulatory, rather
than revenue-raising purposes.
than Powers Granted to the Federal
B. The Power to Borrow Money on the
Credit of the United States
This provides an auxiliary source of
revenue when taxes are insufficient to
cover the government’s operating
expenses. Powers Granted to the Federal
C. The Power to Regulate Interstate and Foreign
This permits Congress to regulate the following
three broad categories of activities:
– channels and instrumentalities involved in
– movement of people and goods across state lines
– any commercial activity that has a close and
substantial relationship to, or effect on, interstate
commerce, even one that takes place entirely
within the confines of a single state.
within Powers Granted to the Federal
Congress has enacted a large body of federal
criminal statutes under the commerce clause.
Mann Act, makes it a federal crime to transport
women across state lines for immoral purposes;
National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, makes it a
crime to transport stolen vehicles in interstate
Federal Kidnapping Act, makes it a crime to kidnap
a person and take him across state lines.
person Powers Granted to the Federal
Wickard v. Filburn, the court found that
production of wheat for personal
consumption had a substantial effect on
interstate commerce, because home-grown
wheat competes with wheat in commerce,
producing surpluses and lowering market
prices. Powers Granted to the Federal
Regulating Commerce: :
United States v. Morrison, iinvolved a
federal statute also enacted under the
commerce clause. The statute provided a
federal civil cause of action for victims of
gender-motivated crimes of violence.
Matters such as marriage, divorce,
education of children, and maintaining the
public peace are beyond the reach of
Congress under the commerce clause.
Congress Powers Granted to the Federal
D. The Power to Establish National Rules
Regarding Immigration, Naturalization, and
The federal government alone can establish
rules relating to immigration and naturalization.
States are forbidden to legislate on this subject.
Federal government has exclusive legislative
control over bankruptcy laws. States remain free
to enact laws dealing with the legal rights of
debtors and creditors as long as they don’t conflict
with federal bankruptcy laws.
with Powers Granted to the Federal
E. The Power to Coin Money, Regulate
Currency, and Punish Counterfeiting
Congress has the exclusive power to
coin money, designate the medium
exchange, forbid melting, defacing, and
counterfeiting and establish agencies to
enforce the currency laws.
enforce Powers Granted to the Federal
F. The Power to Establish Post Offices
and Post Roads
This power enables Congress to regulate
what can be placed in the mail, to make
theft from the mails and use of the mails for
illegal purposes federal crimes, and to
establish federal agencies to enforce the
postal Powers Granted to the Federal
G. The Power to Secure for Authors and
Inventors the Exclusive Right to Writings
and Discoveries for a Limited Period of
This gives authors and inventors
exclusive rights to the fruits of their labors.
This supplies the constitutional foundation
for federal patent and copyright laws.
for Powers Granted to the Federal
H. The Power to Establish Judicial Tribunals
Inferior to the Supreme Court
In 1789, Congress exercised the power to
establish judicial tribunals inferior to the Supreme
Court. The judiciary Act of 1789 provided for the
establishment of 13 district and three circuit
courts. Federal court system has three tiers:
Federal district court – the trial court.
Federal Appeals Court – above district;
Supreme Court –very few appeals ever reach
the Supreme Court.
the Powers Granted to the Federal
I. The Power to Make and Enforce Laws
Related to Piracies and Felonies
Committed on the High Seas and
Offenses Against the Laws of Nations
Congress has the power to regulate
criminal activity committed on the high seas
or committed against United States vessels.
or Powers Granted to the Federal
J. The Power to Declare War
Congress is allowed to impose economic
controls that would be unconstitutional in
peacetime. The Constitution makes the
President Commander in Chief of the armed
forces. Congress has declared war only five
times; American troops have been deployed
in combat operations abroad more than 100
times. Powers Granted to the Federal
A. The Power to Raise and Support an
Army and Navy and Provide for their
Congress has the authority to enact draft
laws, acquire land for military installations
and regulations, and set up military courts.
and Powers Granted to the Federal
L. The Power to Organize a Militia and Call the
Militia into the Service of the United States
When Necessary to Execute Federal Law,
Suppress Insurrections, and Repel Invasions
Militia refers to the National Guard. The
Constitution divides control of the militia between
the federal government and the states. The states
are responsible for training the militia according to
standards prescribed by Congress.
standards Powers Granted to the Federal
M. The Power to Govern the District of
Columbia and all Federal Enclaves and
Congress has exclusive legislative
control of the District of Columbia and
federal installations. These include military
posts, national parks, and federal buildings.
posts, Powers Granted to the Federal
N. The power to Enact All Laws Necessary
and Proper for Carrying into Execution
the Specifically Enumerated Powers
The Supreme Court ruled that Congress
had the power to establish a national bank,
even though no specific language in the
Constitution mentioned it; it had this power
under the necessary and proper clause.
under Powers the States are Forbidden to
States may not:
– Enter into treaties, alliances, or confederations
– Coin money, emit bills of credit, or make
anything besides gold or silver coin legal tender
in payment of debts
– Lay duties on imports or exports without the
consent of Congress
– Keep troops or ships of war in times of peace
– Pass bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, or
laws impairing the obligations of contract
laws Powers the States are Forbidden to
Exercise Bill of Attainder – legislative act that singles a
person out for punishment without a trial.
– Legislatures cannot find citizens guilty of crimes and
impose sanctions on them.
impose Ex Post Facto – after the fact. This protects the
accused from being disadvantaged by subsequent
changes in the law after the crime was committed.
– Laws that: change the elements of a crime, increase the
punishment, or alter rules of evidence and require less
evidence to convict, cannot be applied to crimes
completed before they were enacted.
completed Sovereign Powers Retained by the
States The powers retained by the states are called
Tenth Amendment reads: “The powers not
delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the
States, are reserved to the States
respectively, and to the people.”
James Madison’s description of the
federal/state balance of power, though
accurate in 1798, is no longer accurate
today. Sovereign Powers Retained by the
In Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court
struck down a provision in the Brady
Handgun Violence Prevention Act requiring
state law enforcement officers to conduct
background checks on prospective handgun
purchasers until such time as the federal
government could establish its own registry. The Bill of Rights
During the first session of Congress, James
Madison introduced 20 amendments. Of
these, 12 were approved by Congress and
10 were ratified by the states. The first 10
amendments went into effect in November
The first eight amendments are called the Bill
of The Bill of Rights
The First Amendment
– Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and
petition Congress for a redress of grievances.
petition Second Amendment
– Right to keep and bear arms Third Amendment
– Protection against involuntary quartering of soldiers in
private Fourth Amendment
– Unreasonable searches and seizures, issuance of
warrants without probable cause
warrants The Bill of Rights
The Fifth Amendment – Right to be indicted by grand jury, double jeopardy,
compulsory self-incrimination, protection against
deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due
process of law, just compensation when private property
is taken for public use.
is Sixth Amendment – Speedy trial, public trial, jury trial, confront and crossexamine prosecution witnesses, informed of nature of
grounds of criminal accusation, assistance of counsel.
grounds Seventh Amendment – Jury trial in civil cases when amount in controversy
exceeds Eighth Amendment – Protection against excessive bail, excessive fines, and
cruel and unusual punishment.
cruel The Fourteenth Amendment as a
Limitation on State Power
Prior to the Civil War, the American people viewed
the states as the watchdogs of their liberty. They
feared the federal government. The fact that the
Bill of Rights was addressed to the federal
government only shows this. The Civil War
changed this. After the Civil War, the states were
seen as the aggressors and the federal
government as the protector. Demand for federal
protection against oppressive acts of state
governments led to the passage of the fourteenth
Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment as a
Limitation on State Power
Limitation Fourteenth Amendment
– No State shall make or enforce any law which shall
abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the
U.S.; nor shall any State deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny
to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection
of the laws.
of The Fourteenth Amendment forbids the states from
engaging in oppressive action; it does not require
them to take helpful action.
them Due Process of Law
Procedural due process requires the
government to use fair procedures when it
makes a decision that deprives a person of
life, liberty, or property.
– This requires the government to give notice and
a hearing before depriving a person of life,
liberty, or property. This is not limited to criminal
proceedings. This applies whenever the
government acts to take away any of the three
interests mentioned in the Fourteenth
Amendment. Due Process of Law
Substantive due process protects citizens
against government conduct that arbitrarily
interferes with their liberty.
– This deals with rights that are not mentioned in
the Constitution. Recognition has been reserved
for two main categories of claims: (1) arbitrary
restrictions on fundamental rights and (2) claims
based on behavior of government officials so
outrageous that it shocks the contemporary
conscience. Due Process of Law
Arbitrary Restrictions on Fundamental
– The label of fundamental rights has been mainly
reserved for intimate life decisions about
matters central to individual liberty. Right to
marry, have children, direct their education and
upbringing, enjoy marital privacy, practice birth
control, terminate unwanted pregnancies and
other similar personal and private issues.
other Due Process of Law
Conscience-Shocking Treatment by Public
– “It may fairly be said to shock the contemporary
– Coercing a motorist into having sexual
intercourse by threatening arrest for drunk
driving is an example. Equal Protection of the Laws
In 1896, the Supreme Court handed down the
Plessy v. Ferguson decision, in which it held
that state-mandated racial segregation was
constitutional, provided that equal facilities
were available to members of both races.
were Equal Protection of the Laws
In 1954, the Supreme Court handed down the
landmark decision of Brown v. Board of
Education, iin which it announced that the
separate but equal doctrine no longer
satisfied the Constitution in the field of
The government must treat all persons who
are similarly situated alike.
are Levels of Review
rational relationship review
Statutory distinctions that do not involve
The statute carries a presumption of
constitutionality and will be upheld unless the
challenger proves that the distinction made by the
legislature is not rationally related to any legitimate
government Levels of Review
Statutes that make gender-based distinctions
are subject to a higher standard of review,.
They do not carry a presumption of
constitutionality. The government must
demonstrate an exceedingly persuasive
justification for treating people differently
because of their gender.
because Equal Protection of the Laws
Distinctions based on race, color, religion, and
national origin are subject to the most rigorous
standard of review.
To justify treating people differently because of their
race, color, religion, or national origin, the
government must establish a compelling reason.
Governments may not grant preferential treatment to
racial minorities without a compelling reason.
racial Adjudication of Constitutional Questions
Trial courts determine the facts, apply the law
to the facts, and reach verdicts. Their
function is to review the trial judge’s rulings
on questions of law to determine if the ruling
Constitutional issues raised by state prisoners
generally reach the Supreme Court through
one of two routes:
– Direct Review
– Habeas Corpus Review Adjudication of Constitutional Questions
– Criminal prosecutions for state crimes are tried
in state courts.
– If the trial results in a conviction, the defendant
can petition the U. S. Supreme Court for direct
review after he receives a final judgment from
the highest state court available.
– The appeal must involve a substantial federal
question. Adjudication of Constitutional Questions
Habeas Corpus Review
– Constitutional errors are not always discovered
in time to seek direct review.
– Federal law gives state prisoners a postconviction remedy called habeas corpus.
– Obtaining release from unlawful confinement is
– Federal habeas corpus involves a collateral
attack on a state court judgment.
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