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The U.S. Constitution Notes

I. Three sections:
A. Preamble - states why the Constitution was written.
B. Articles -Sets forth three branches of government.
Legislative
Executive
Judicial
C. Amendments - changes to the Constitution
major principles
1. Popular sovereignty: rule by the people
2. federalism: power divided between national and state
3. separation of powers: each branch of government has its responsibility
4. checks and balances: each branch of government exercises control over the others
5. judicial review: power of the courts to declare laws and actions of local, state,or national government invalid if they violate the constitution

II. Legislative Branch * lawmaking branch
A. Expressed powers - the Congress has expressed powers (directly stated in the Constitution) itemized in article 1 section 8 these powers are also called the enumerated powers because they are numbered one through 18th.
1. first five powers - economic legislation
levy taxes
borrow money
regulate commerce
coin money
punish counterfeiting

2. next seven powers - defense
punish piracies
declare war
raise and support armed forces
provide a navy
regulate armed forces
call forth military in times of war
organize a militia

3. in addition, Section 8 gives powers for:
naturalizing citizens
establish post office
securing patents
copyright's
establish courts and government

B. Elastic clause - did Congress the right to make laws and to stretch its powers to meet situations the founders would never have anticipated.

III. Executive branch - second article
A. Vague powers:
carry out acts of Congress
protect liberty, private property and business
hold actions of legislative branch
allowed broad but vaguely described powers
president's power is open to interpretation

( For example, the president can fire officials in the executive branch; make agreements with foreign countries, or take emergency actions to save the nation even though none of these powers are stated in the Constitution)

B. Specific powers - section 2 and 3 of article II
1. Commander in chief of the armed forces and state militias
2. appoints the heads of executive departments with Senate's consent (Department of Labor)
3. pardon people convicted of federal crimes, except in cases of impeachment or reduce
4. make treaties with advice and consent of Senate
5. appoint ambassadors, federal court judges, and other top officials with Senate consent
6. annual State of the Union address
7. calls Congress into special session when necessary
8. meets with heads of state and other foreign officials
9. commissions all military officials of the U.S.
10. pinchers that these laws that Congress passes are faithfully executed

IV. Judicial branch
justices hold office for life

A. Two different systems of court
1. federal courts - powers are derived from Constitution and federal law
2. courts of the 50 states - powers come from the state constitutional laws

* Each court has the authority to hear only certain kinds of cases ( known as jurisdiction).

B. Jurisdiction to determined by two factors
1. the subject matter of the case
2. parties involved

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