How are the major principles of the US Constitution related to one another?

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One of the main principles of the US Constitution is that no single part of the government should be too powerful. This is connected to the idea of separation of powers. There are three co-equal branches of the government: the Executive, the Judicial, and the Legislative, each with different responsibilities...

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One of the main principles of the US Constitution is that no single part of the government should be too powerful. This is connected to the idea of separation of powers. There are three co-equal branches of the government: the Executive, the Judicial, and the Legislative, each with different responsibilities that rely on each other. Furthermore, they all have ways to check, or limit, the power of the other branches. In this way, no single part of the government has total authority.

This is also connected to the idea of protecting people's rights, as enshrined in the first ten amendments. The drafters of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were concerned that a strong federal government could trample the freedoms of the people. Many of these freedoms, such as the freedom of speech and due process rights, are enumerated in the amendments. The Ninth Amendment even states that the people retain rights not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. This serves to further limit the scope of the federal government and keep it from getting too powerful and infringing on the freedoms of the people.

When viewed this way, we can see that nearly every principle in the Constitution has interrelated goals. This founding document is designed to lay out the powers of the government and the rights of the people while making sure that the former does not become so powerful that it weakens the latter.

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The U.S. Constitution is a balanced document with several interlinked principals.

The concept of checks and balances is directly related to the separation of powers. While each of the three branches of government are "siloed" within their own sphere and responsible for a discrete and unique section of governance (separation of powers), they also audit each other to police the abuse of these otherwise unrestrained powers (checks and balances). For instance, while Congress has the exclusive right to legislate, the President is given the authority to police Congress through his power of veto. Alternatively, while the President is the ultimate executive power, Congress is given the authority to limit him or her through its right of impeachment and removal.

Similarly, the principals of federalism and limited government are also conjoined. Limited government envisions not just a government limited in its scope, but also in its concentration of power. Federalism, meanwhile, is a way of guaranteeing this by diffusing vertical levels of government into discrete spheres in the same way horizontally aligned institutions of governance are siloed at the federal level.

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Different sources tend to list different numbers of “major principles” of the Constitution.  I have seen lists of four, five, six, and seven major principles.  In this answer, I will use the list of seven principles found in the link below.  Here is the list:

  1. Popular sovereignty, meaning rule by the people
  2. Republicanism, meaning the right to vote for representatives
  3. Federalism meaning power is shared between the national and state governments
  4. Separation of powers into branches that make, enforce or interpret laws
  5. Balance of Power - controls (checks) can be made on the other branches
  6. Limited government - everyone is bound by the US Constitution
  7. Individual rights - personal freedoms are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights

Let us look at some of the connections between these principles. 

First, Principles 1 and 2 are very closely related.  If the people are going to rule, they will have to be able to vote for representatives.  In theory, you could have a direct democracy in which the people as a mass get to vote on everything, but that could never work in anything larger than a very small town.  In order for us to be sovereign, we need to have the right to vote for the people who make our laws.

Second, Principles 3, 4, and 5 are also closely related.  All of these principles are meant to ensure that no part of government gets to be too powerful.  We have federalism so that neither the state governments nor the federal government will become too strong.  We have separation of powers so that no part of the federal government will become too strong. We have a balance of power between the various branches so that they can each prevent the others from acting.  This ensures that no one branch can become much stronger than the others.  The Framers included these principles in the Constitution because they were worried about what would happen if the government became too strong.

Finally, we have Principles 6 and 7, which are also closely related.  The government exists in order to protect our rights.  If the government is going to protect our rights, we also have to be sure that it will not take away those rights. Therefore, we have to make sure that there are limits on what the government can do.  We have to make sure that it is not allowed to infringe on our rights.

These are the main connections between these seven principles of the Constitution.

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