Chapter 3 The US Constitution

popular sovereignty

Government by consent of the governed; power of the government comes from the people


The beginning fo the US Constitution which describes the 6 main purposes of our government

majority rule

A system in which the decision of more than half the people is accepted by all

delegated power

A power given to the federal government by the Constitution. Study pg 38

reserved power

A power set aside by the Constitution for the states or for the people. Study pg 38

concurrent power

A power shared by the federal government and the states. Study pg 38

limited government

A system in which government powers are carefully spelled out to prevent government from becoming too powerful

separation of powers

The three-way division of power among the branches of the federal government

legislative branch

The lawmaking branch of government. Includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. Is discussed in Article 1 of the Constitution

executive branch

The branch of government that carries out the laws. Headed by the President. Outlined in Article 2

judicial branch

The branch of government that interprets the laws and punishes lawbreakers. Headed by the Supreme Court. Discussed in Article 3

checks and balances

A system in which the powers of government are balanced among different branches so that each branch can check, or limit, the power of the other branches


A refusal of the president or of a governor to sign a bill


A written change to the Constitution. Thousands have been proposed but only 27 are part of the Constitution today. Amendment process is outlined in Article 5


To cancel or revoke an amendment


The leaders of the executive departments who also act as advisers to the president. This is an American tradition but is not discussed in the Constitution

6 Goals of the American government

ensure domestic tranquility create a more perfect union establish justiceprovide for the common defenseensure the general welfaresecure the blessing of liberty for ourselve and our posterity

Direct Democracy

every citizen takes part in making government decisions

Representative Democracy

citizens elect represenatives to do the work of government for them.

Three ways the constitution can be changed?

Amendment, custom/tradition, and interpretation

Article I

Legislative Branch; powers and limitations of Congress, how representatives are chosen

Article II

Executive Branch; powers of the president, qualifications of the president

Article III

Judicial branch; establishes the Supreme Court. Gives Congress the power to establish other national courts

Article V

Amendment Process

How can an amendment be added to the Constitution?

must be proposed by 2/3rds of state legislatures or 2/3rds of Congress. Then it must be ratified by 3/4ths of the states legislatures or 3/4ths of state conventions

Bill of Rights

first 10 amendments to the Constitution

Mayflower Compact

Written by the Pilgrims in 1620 when they realized they were far from their intended landing site. 1st written gov. for an American Colony. It was based on the consent of the governed.


Division of power between the federal and state governments