Chapter 2 The Constitution - Study Questions (w/Answers)

Provide answers to the following questions.

  1. What is the process for amending the Constitution, and why does it look that way?
    The process for amending the Constitution is in two parts. The first part is proposing an amendment. Proposals are by two-thirds of the members in both houses voting, or by two-thirds of the state legislatures asking Congress for a convention to propose amendments. Through the ratification process, it must occur in three-fourths of the state legislatures or a favorable vote in three-fourths of the states. The process looks this way because the Framers did not want the government to be too influenced by the people. Thus this became the formal method.
  2. Explain how the colonial experience and the ideas of John Locke influenced the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. John Loke's idea was that for people it should be self explanatory that all humans are created equal and they have natural rights, as he called them, from the birth like, Right for Life, Liberty abd pursuit of Happiness.
  3. The framers of the Constitution deliberately built inefficiency into our system of government. Why? Are there recent examples of where this has been proven to be beneficial? What are some of the problems? The framers of the Constitution incorporated inefficiency into our government in order to make sure that the Constitution could not be modified to quickly, or with too little support. That way, we could prevent excessively hasty decisions from being made.
  4. What was the dilemma faced by the U.S. Supreme Court when deciding the case Marbury v. Madison (1803). Explain what the case was about.In Marbury v. Madison the Supreme Court of the United States first declared an act of Congress "unconstitutonal". The court ruled 5-0 that, outlined, by Article III of the constitution, it was not in the courts jurisdiction to act upon Marbury's plea to deliver his appointment. The court set a monumental precedent by deeming a decision made by congress unconstutional.
  5. In detail, describe the impeachment process. Make sure to identify the specific roles of the House, Senate, and the Chief Justice. Why is each actor given that responsibility? Why did the framers of the Constitution make it so difficult to impeach a President? In order to impeach a president, the House brings up charges against the president. After the charges are bought against the president the Senate serves as the jury for the trail and the Chief Justice heads the trail as the Judge. Both the legislative and the judicial branch are involved in the process of impeachment to insure that the president is getting impeached for the right reasons. The impeachment process is so difficult to insure presidents were not impeached lefted and right.
  6. How is the Equal Rights Amendment an example of the pitfalls of ratification? Identify the proposals of the ERA, where it succeeded and where it failed.
  7. Amendments to the Constitution have been used for major purposes. Identify each purpose and give examples of amendments that accomplished that.
The Amendments of the Constitution were passed for the better of the United States sanity and its citizen’s equality.
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Examples of the Amendments
The Bill of Rights: Individual Freedoms
Prior to the civil war, southern states outlawed pro-abolition literature. Organization of Clubs
Right to bear arms and active Military
Gun ownership decided by each state.
Right to a Fair Trail
Miranda Rights, Double Jeopardy, Warrant
No Direct Tax on Individuals, U.S. Census
Women’s Suffrage
All women could vote except for African American and other minorities.
  1. Discuss how the power in state legislatures changed after the revolution. How did these changes differ in Northern and Southern states? What do these changes suggest about the nature of the revolution itself?
  2. Describe the major features of the Articles of Confederation and explain why the Articles failed. The major features of the Articles of Confederation were that it created a confederacy. It gave the national government the power to coin money, make peace, and appoint officers for an army. It gave each state one vote in the Continental Congress and stated that only 9 states where needed in order to pass a law. The Articles of confederation failed because the government had no resources to back up the money it coined, it didnt allow congress to regulate commerce in between states or with other countries, and there was no executive branch of government or a judicial system. Overall it's biggest problem was that it set up a very weak central government.
  3. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the national government under the Articles of Confederation. Would you call the Constitution an improvement? Explain. Under the Articles of Confederation, the national government did not have the specific power to tax the people (taxation proposals were always rejected); they could not raise an army, and even though they could coin money, there were no resources to back up the value of its currency, the government could not regulate commerce between states, there was no executive branch to execute laws, and the government had no judicial system. The biggest flaw was the lack of a strong central government. The Constitution is a great improvement over the Articles of Confederation, as the government has power to execute all the tasks that it never could under the Articles.
  4. What was the economic condition of the country at the time of the Constitutional Convention? There was complete economic turmoil and domestic tranquility had gone haywire. What were the major economic issues at the convention and how were they resolved? New structures of government were proposed the resolutions included the Virginia and New Jersey plans. Why were economic issues so important to the founders? Because without the economy being sufficient they would have zero chance of creating independence.
  5. What were the personal characteristics of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention? What were their basic philosophical views and how did these views affect the document they ultimately approved? Most of the men that were delagates were middle aged and all of them were white males. this had a large effect on the idea and view of slavery and also said that slavery could not be changed for another 20 years, so could not be illegal until 1808. they also left some error in the document to prove that it could not be easily amended
  6. Some have referred to the Constitution as a conservative victory. In what ways were the framers less interested in republican liberty than in property and social order? Was this necessary for the country's survival, or selfishness? Explain.
  7. At the Constitutional Convention, there was consensus on some policy issues and conflict necessitating compromise on others. Identify these issues and describe how the convention dealt with them.
  8. Describe the founders' attitudes toward democracy. What specific features of the Constitution reflect this sentiment? Occasionally some of the founders felt that they were more intelligent than the common rabble. This is why they created the Electoral College and for a long time people were not allowed to directly elect their senators.
  9. How was the issue of slavery resolved at the Constitutional Convention? Was this necessary for national survival? Explain. A compromise was made at the Convention in which the slave trade was to be continued for the next 20 years, along with a ban on export taxes for cotton products. In return, there needed only to be a majority vote on navigation laws, Congress was given authority to regulate foreign commerce, and there needed to be a 2/3 vote to ratify treaties. This compromise, along with others, most likely saved the Constitution because the Southern states could have blocked its ratification.
  10. Describe the major elements of the Madisonian model as embodied in the Constitution. Why did the Founding Fathers make this model so fundamental to the document?
  11. Describe some of the key checks and balances in the United States government as established by the Constitution. Does this lead to more smooth and efficient government? Why or why not? The following graphic organizer shows the checks and balances used in the United States federal government. This system has worked for over 200 years because its original intent was to prevent corruption on the highest level of government and to keep one branch from getting too powerful. One of the system's pitfalls, however, is that sometimes it is hard to get things done if one branch is seemingly "against" another branch (i.e. The Executive Branch is Republican and Congress is Democratic so no new pieces of legislature will be approved by the President): Checks and Balances Graphic Organizer>
  12. Describe which groups in society the Federalists and Anti-Federalists represented. How did the political views of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists differ? The Federalists represented the property owners, the landed rich, and the Northeast and Midatlantic merchants. The Anti-Federalists represented the small famers, shopkeppers, and laborers. The Federalists wanted a powerful central government with a bicameral legislature run by the elite class while the Anti-Federalists wanted participatory democracy and wanted stronger state governments and a federal unicameral legislature.
  13. Summarize the major arguments of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. What were the major political compromises and manipulations used to ensure ratification of the Constitution? The Federalits and the Anti-Federalist argued over the role of the central government. Federalist argued for a strong federal government, which the Consitiution favored, over the strong state govenment confederavy that the Articles of Confederation favored. The Federalist Papers outlined the advantages of a strong federal government. The Anti-Federalist who were worried about a strong federal goverment overlooking the rights of the people insisted on a Bill of Rights in the Constition.
  14. What was the significance of the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution? Were they intended to extend or to limit the power of the central national government? Explain. The first ten amendments added to the United States Constitution were rights reserved for the people of the U.S. or the state governments. The amendments were intended to limit the power of the central national government but also insure freedom to the citizens of the United States.
  15. Identify and explain the formal method of amending the Constitution. Give examples of both successful and unsuccessful amendments. In order to propose an amendment to the Constitution, two-thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives must vote in favor of the amendment. Once formal propostion has occured, Ratification must take place. Ratification of an amendment occurs when there is legislative approval within three-fourths of the states (38/50). In 1789, an amendment was proposed that required a general election take place before salary increases or decreases came into effect for Senators and Representative. It was ratified as the 27th Amendment in 1992. In 1978, an amendment failed to be ratified that granted full congressional voting rights to citizens living in Washington D.C.
  16. How can the Constitution be amended? Is this process meant to encourage or discourage changes? Explain and evaluate. The constitution can be formally amended in two ways either 2/3 vote in both houses or 2/3 vote in the state legislatures. Thi is not necessarily meant to discourage amending the constitution it just means that you must have a strong point and it must be legitimate. The ways to informally change the constitution are Judicial Interpretation or a social or cultural change
  17. Some argue that the Constitution has been "democratized" over the years. Explain what is meant by "democratization," and give examples using references to relevant Constitutional amendments.
  18. Evaluate the democratic nature of the original and current Constitution with its amendments. Does the Constitution, with its checks and balances and separation of powers facilitate or impede effective policy making? Use relevant examples. it facilitates effective policy making. Although a law as more chances to be struck down or edited what emerges will be acceptable to enough of the people running the government that it will not cause problems or conflicts any time soon.
  19. Explain what the founders intended the scope of the new United States government to be. Has the structure created by the founders actually limited government or made it more accessible to citizens? The founding fathers designed government to interfere with its citizen’s rights as little as possible. They wanted government officials to represent the people that voted for them, while never giving one representative, state, or branch too much power. The founding fathers believed that power corrupts and checks need to be done ensuring equality in all facets. The government today however makes voters very involved and when a large group disagrees with lawmakers, the official is accessible to the public.
  20. What are the roles of judicial interpretation and cultural/technological change in constitutional change? The role of judicial interpretation has a huge impact on the consitution. This means that the judicial branh has the right to interpret the constitution to however they wish, and should the wrong person be in that position, disaster would occur. Cultural and technological changes have also influenced the constitution. We did not have cars for the first 100 years, electrical lights for a good chunk, slavery was allowed(as was the degradation of Africans) for atleast 50 years and women were consisdered home bodies and should stay at home and watch the kids. Now, ALL citizens black, white, male or female can vote(as opposed to only white men) and slavery is no longer allowed; it has been deemed(rightfully so) unethical and terrible. So as culture and technology change, the constitution's vague rules are adapted to the time and place in which they are needed through judicial review.
  21. Fully discuss the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and how they were addressed in the new Constitution. The Articles' biggest weakness was the absence of a strong central government, this was rectified in the Constitution and national government was given more power than the states. These Articles also did not allow the government to regulate commerce between the states and with foreign countries unlike the Constitution, which states that the central government has complete control over trade. Under the Articles there was no executive branch of the government, and the President merely presided over meetings. In the Constitution, however, the executive branch can override any other branch's decisions. There was also no provision for a judicial system under the Articles which led to chaos and prompted the founders to involve the judicial system in the Constitution to solve various disputes.
  22. Explain the controversies of the Constitutional Convention and the document that was drafted there. Many people believed that the Constitution was unpatriotic, and were agianst it because it was said that the executive branch would have too much power. Also, there were many disputes over how the people's representatives should be determined, whether the number of representatives should be based on population (which is what many larger states wanted) or whether each state should have an equal number of representatives (which is what many smaller states wanted).
  23. Fully discuss the ratification debates over the Constitution. The Federalists favored the strong federal national government that was created by the new Constitution. However, the Anti-federalists opposed ratification because they wanted more power to be distributed among the states and they were afraid that a strong national government would take away freedoms of the people. Both groups would have meetings to discuss the possible outcomes of ratification. During the debates, the Federalist Papers were published to show support to the ratification. After the Bill of Rights were published, more states were open to ratification.
  24. Compare and contrast the formal and informal methods of constitutional change. Formally amending the constition involves proposing an amendment (by a 2/3 vote in both house of Congress or a national constitutional convention) and ratification (by 3/4 of teh legislatures of the states or 3/4 conventions of the states). Informally amending the Constitution involves judicial interpretation, or social and cultural changes in intrerpretation.
  25. Proponents of the Constitution claimed that its structure would provide a strong but limited governing system. How was this to be achieved? Discuss the elements of both power and limitation found in the Constitution.
  26. What is the difference between enumerated and implied powers? How could these different powers tip the balance of power within the federal system? An enumerated power is a given power that is specifically noted in the Constitution. For example, an enumerated power is the power of the President to veto bills proposed by Congress. An implied power is a power that is not particularly specified in the Constitution. For example, the "necessary and proper" clause is an implied power because it enables Congress to make laws "necessary and proper." This is pretty vague and gives Congress room to interpret this power as they wish. Because implied powers are open for interpretation, it holds more power than an enumerated power would.
  27. Describe and discuss the Anti-Federalists. Who were they? What did they think about the proposed Constitution? What were some of the arguments they made? Answer: Anti Fedrealists are a group of individuals who were against a strong national government and in favor of a federal system. Anti Fedrealists opposed the proposed constitution because they thought that a stronger government threatened the sovereignty and prestige of the states, localities, or individuals. Anti Federalists argued that the strong national government proposed by the Federalists was a threat to the rights of individuals and that the president would become a king.
  28. Fully discuss the amendment process and some of the amendments it has given rise to over the history of the nation. How has it impacted the Constitution over time? There are two formal methods and two informal methods to amending the Constitution. The formal methods would be to obtain a two thirds vote by both houses of Congress or, a two thirds of the state legislatures specifically requesting congress to call a national convention to propose amendments. The two informal methods are Judicial interpretation and simply cultural and and social change. Judicial review took place in Marbury v. Madison when it was said that the federal courts had the power to nullify acts of the nation's government when they were found to conflict with the Constitution. The cultural change is shown with the status of African Americans today and the three-fifths compromise of 1787.
  29. Describe the basis on which colonists felt having a legitimate government in contrast to monarchies of their day such as Great Britain's was possible. Colonists felt that having a legitimate government was possible because the colonists had been self-ruling for decades and thus had a strong foundation to build a government. Also, because of salutary neglect, they had their own representative governing bodies which didn't involve the monarchy. So when the monarchy started to enforce more stringent rules, the colonists felt that it was unfair and rebelled against the monarchy.
  30. Compare and contrast the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan, and show how they led to the Great Compromise. The Virginia Plan propsed a bicameral legislature (one house elected representatives and the other appointed), and a three-branch government. Also, it wanted the number of representatives based on population. The New Jersey Plan proposed a federal government similar to that under the Articles of Confederation. It proposed a one-branch government, the legislative branch. It proposed that each state have exactly one vote. The Great Compromise came about because of the dissention between the two plans. Also known as the Connecticut Compromise, it resolved that the federal government will have two legislative bodies and one will will be based on population while the other will have the same representation for each state. It also asserted that the federal power would be supreme.
  31. Explain Madison's position on the Aristotelian notion that government should cultivate virtue among the governed.
  32. What did the U.S. Constitution include on the subject of slavery, and why did it fail to outlaw the practice? Slavery was a hot topic debate at the Constitutional Convention. After deciding the Three-Fifths Compromise (for every five slaves three would count as citizens), the U.S. Constitution also declared slavery couldn't be illegal until 1808. The subject of outlawing slavery wasn't allowed to be discussed until 1808.
  33. Proposals for reforming the U.S. Constitution divide into two general kinds of criticisms. Discuss the arguments of those who believe the federal government is too weak, pointing out their proposals for reform.
  34. The U.S. Constitution is based on a particular view of human nature. How did that view influence the structure of the government? How were the weaknesses of human nature exploited to safeguard against abuses of government power?
  35. The text leaves open the question of whether the U.S. Constitution created a democratic system of government that truly respects liberty. What evidence exists that the U.S. Constitution cut back on democracy and curtailed the power of the people to influence decisions? In other words, argue that the U.S. Constitution was designed to limit democracy and individual liberty.
  36. Explain Madison's logic with respect to liberty and the size of republics. How can liberty be more secure when republics are “extended” and there are more factions?
  37. Why was the writing of the Constitution such a point of contention between large and small states? The Constitution was a point of connection between large and small states because it satisfied both large and small states needs. With a compromise, the smaller states were happy becasue they recieved equal representation as the larger states.
  38. Do we need a written constitution? Yes, constitution is a written document that helps to enforce laws and to keep the branches in equal power.
  39. Why was a Bill of Rights necessary? A bill of rights is necessary because they give individuals specific rights and protect us for doing and saying what we want. The amendments limit the national governments power to interfere with personal rights. If you're accused of a crime it also can help you there.
  40. Explain how the principles of procedural democracy threaten liberty. The principals of procedural democracy threaten liberty because the procedural democracy is a democracy in which the people have less influence than in traditional liberal democracies. This type of democracy is characterized by voters choosing, in free and fair elections contested by competing candidates, who fill public offices governed by constitutional law. This gives people less influence and their liberty is threatened because the people lack the freedom of choice.
  41. “Which is better: a government that is highly responsive to public opinion on all matters, or one that responds deliberately to organized groups that argue their cases effectively?” What are the pros and cons of each side of the issue? Which side do you find more convincing and why?
  42. Describe the campaign to have the Constitution ratified. How did the Bill of Rights fit into that campaign? After the Constitution had all of its major parts agreed on the framers had to get the states to ratify the it. The federalists believed that the nation should have a strong national government lobbying for the constitution the way it was. THe Anti-Federalists were afraid a strong national government would hurt American wanting more power with the states and people. To make this work for everybody the Bill of rights was added to the constitution to safegaurd a persons rights, making everyone happy
  43. Explain how America’s experience in colonial and revolutionary times influenced the design of the Constitution. America's experience with Britain significantly influenced the design of the Constitution. For example, Britain would tax without representation. Because of the taxation, the Constitution has a system of checks and balances, thus making no one branch of government more powerful than any other.//