Constitution Study Set


Alliance of small units of governments, in which the central government has very little power and each state has authority to rule itself

Articles of Confederation

The first constitution of the United States

Why Articles of Confederation failed after around 6 years

Central government had very little power to maintain order and keep the country organized

Four/Five weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation

1) No president/executive
2) No national courts
3) No power to tax
4) Very hard to amend (all 13 states had to agree)
5) National government could not force states to pay taxes, contribute soldiers, or cooperate on foreign policy

Branches of the Articles of Confederation

Legislative branch only

Significance of Shays' Rebellion (1787)

Synopsis: Farmers closed down the courts in Mass. because no money to pay state taxes, national leaders feared U.S. would fall into chaos
Effect: Leaders met in Philadelphia the next summer to revise the Articles of Confederation, ended up writing the Con

Federalist Papers

Articles written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to encourage voters in the states to ratify the new Constitution

Anti-federalist beliefs

Constitution gave the federal government too much power and didn't protect the rights of the people

Federal government

In America= same as national government: Located in Washington D.C. and made up of three branches

Father of the Constitution

James Madison, who proposed the Virginia Plan which included three branches of government

Great Comprimise

Agreement at the Constitutional convention to have both a House of Reps, where large states had more power, a Senate, every state was equal

3/5ths Compromise

Solution the North-South disagreements about whether the South can count slaves as part of their population when it was being decided on how many Reps each state would get in the House

Prohibited Power

A power prohibited by the Constitution
i.e. granting titles of nobility

Concurrent Power

A power shared between states and the national government
i.e. taxation

Separation of Powers

Allocation of some authority to each of three branches of government

Three Branches of Government

Legislative, executive, judicial

Purpose of Bill of Rights

Protects people from mistreatment by the federal government (originally didn't protect the people from state government, but 14th Amendment applied the Bill of RIghts to the states in order to protect former slave owners after the Civil War

Majority Rule

Decisions made by voting, whichever gets 50% plus one vote wins: that 50% plus one is the majority
i.e. passing laws or electing leaders

Minority Rights

Limits put on the majority to prevent tyrannical things: the minority is protected by B of R, especially; even if the majority votes to take away free speech or the right to a jury trial, Constitution protects the minority and those majority decisions wou

Due Process of Law

Steps that must be followed before someone accused of a crime can lose their life, liberty, or property: habeas corpus, trial by jury, confront witnesses, call witnesses, have a lawyer, etc.

Illinois Constitution

Looks very much like US government, has executive (governor), two-house legislative branch (General Assembly), and a court system

Job title of the chief of Illinois' executive branch

The governor

Current governor of Illionois

Pat Quinn

Relationship between Illinois laws and U.S. Constitution

Illinois laws can't conflict with U.S. Constitution because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land

How Illinois state judges chosen and how the method differs from U.S. judges

Illinois state judges elected, U.S. judges appointed by the President

Governor's veto vs. President's veto

Governor can veto part of a bill, and that veto can be overridden by the General Assembly with a 3/5ths vote of both houses, whereas the U.S. Congress needs a 2/3 vote to override the president

Illinois' capital city


U.S. Senators from Illinois

Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin

Patriotism and The Flag

Voting and pledging allegiance to the flag are two ways to show one's patriotism, but neither of those acts are required

Do Jehovah's Witnesses have to pledge allegiance to the flag, even though their religion says that they shouldn't

No, the 1st Amendment guarantees free exercise of religion
i.e. West Virginia v. Barnett court decision

Requirements to vote

18 years of age and a resident of the area where you register and vote

Declaration of Independence

Not a law, announced America's fundamental beliefs about that purpose of government

Where governments derive their power from, according to the Declaration

Consent of the governed

Who did the US declare independence against

England/Great Britain

Purpose of government according to the Declaration

To secure these rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

When is it okay to rebel according to the Declaration?

When a government no longer protects life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but NOT okay to revel for "light and transient causes

Social Contract Theory

John Locke's claim that people form governments to protect their rights and the people promise to follow the decisions made by that government unless the government stops protecting those rights

What people should do when the government stops protecting their rights

To alter or abolish the government


Supreme law of the United States, protects the people (majority and minority) by separating powers among three branches and between the national and state levels, structure know as "federalism

Preamble of the Consitution

We the People of the United States...


Government in which the people rule through reps that they elect


Government where the people rule directly, by making laws

Flexibility of the Constitution

1) Can be amended by a vote of Congress and the states
2) Its words are broad and general and can be interpreted differently

How Constitution can be amended or changed

Two-thirds of each house of Congress must vote for the change, then three-fourths of the states must ratify it

Elastic Cause

One of the powers of Congress, which allow that body to do anything "necessary and proper" to carry out its other powers; gives the Congress flexibility to write laws about new situations that did not exist when Constitution was written


System where a national and state government hold power at the same time: national government controls some topics, like the army and interstate commerce; and the states control others, like family law and speed limits. Both levels can establish taxes

Delegated Power

One that the Constitution gives to Congress
i.e. coining money

Reserved Power

Saved for the states to use, these aren't listed in the Constitution: they are any power not delegated to Congress

Legislative Branch

National legislature, U.S. Congress- made up of a Senate and a House of Reps- writes the laws and balances the power of the President and the Courts

Two houses of Congress

Senate and House of Reps

Primary role of Legislative Branch

To make the laws

How many reps does each state get in the House?

Depends on population: California has 53 reps and smallest states have one; Illinois has

How many senators does each state have?


How long in is a reps term in office

Two years

How long is a senators term in office?

Six years

Who has the power to regulate interstate commerce, create taxes declare war and has the power of the purse?