From Articles I thru VII of the US Constitution, what are 5 examples of violations of popular sovereignty, political equality, political liberty, justice and/or democracy?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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First of all, please note that popular sovereignty, political equality, and political liberty are three aspects of democracy.  Therefore, if something violates one of these, it also violates democracy.  Furthermore, it is a matter of opinion as to whether something violates justice as there is no clear, objectively correct definition of justice.  That said, let us try to find five ways in which the Constitution violates democracy and/or justice.

  1. You could argue that the age qualifications for members of Congress and for the president violate political liberty and political equality.  They make it so that people lack the liberty to vote for people they like if those people are too young.  They also make it so that underage people lack the same ability to participate in the political process that older people have.
  2. You can argue that the apportionment of the Senate violates political equality.  In California, for example, something like 38 million people are represented by two senators.  In Wyoming, 580,000 people are represented by the same number of senators.  This gives an individual in Wyoming much more power in the Senate than a person in California has.
  3. Although the Constitution never uses the words “slave” or “slavery,” there are parts of Article I that clearly refer to it.  These are the “Three-fifths Compromise” In Article I, Section 2 and the compromise that does not allow the slave trade to be banned for at least 20 years after the Constitution was ratified (Article I, Section 9).  Slavery is a clear violation of political liberty and political equality since slaves had no rights and no voice in politics.  By condoning slavery, the Constitution violated democratic principles.
  4. You can argue that Article I, Section 10 violates popular sovereignty when it says the states cannot make certain kinds of laws.  It says, for example, that the states cannot make paper money and cannot pass laws “impairing the Obligations of Contracts.”  This prevented the people of the states from making such laws even if a majority of them wanted to do so.
  5. You can argue that the Fugitive Slave Clause in Article IV, Section 2 violates political liberty and political equality just as the passages mentioned in #3 (above) do.

All of these parts of the Constitution violate (at least arguably) various aspects of democracy.