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There are a number of main points to the US Constitution. While different lists of such main points may include different things, the following five things are very important.
- Popular government. The Constitution guarantees us the right to elect the people who make up our government. Over the years, this right has expanded to where we now get to elect the president and all of Congress and to where various groups can vote even though they could not do so previously.
- Separation of powers. The government is divided into three parts (branches) with different powers for each part.
- Checks and balances. Each of the branches of government has the ability to check the other branches. For example, even though the legislature has the right to make laws, the president may veto those laws.
- Federalism. The powers of the government are split between the federal government and the state governements.
- Limited government. The government is meant to have a hard time taking away people’s rights. This is partly accomplished through separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism. It is also accomplished through specific protections such as are found in the Bill of Rights.
The U.S. Constitution was written having seven main articles and additional amendments added from the end of the 1700s through current times.
The original seven articles address these points:
1. Define the powers of the Congress, House of Representatives and Senate.
2. Establish and define the presidency.
3. Establish and define the court system.
4. Define states' laws.
5. Explain Constitutional Amendment processes.
6. Define the Constitution as the highest law in the country.
7. Explain what it would take to ratify the original document: nine of the 13 colonies had to agree to it.
The rest of the Constitution is created by the amendments. The first ten of those are named the Bill of Rights. These establish the individual liberties and freedoms we know today, such as freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms and the rights a person has under the judicial system. Further amendments were added as needed that address topics such as slavery, taxes, voting and how government office terms work.
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