Constitution of the United States

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In what ways is the Massachusetts Constitution similar to the United States Constitution? 

The Massachusetts Constitution, similarly to the United States Constitution, contains a preamble, a declaration of rights, a frame of government, and articles of amendment. Both documents provide reasoning for their existence, a structure of governance, a list of individual rights, and a method of changing themselves for future citizens.

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The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will always be linked to the Constitution of the United States because of the fact that the former served as a model for the latter.

John Adams served as the primary author of the Massachusetts Constitution. The document remains the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world. Additionally, it was the first constitution created by a convention rather than being created by a legislative body.

The four key similarities between the two documents include the Preamble, the Declaration of Rights, the Frame of Government, and the Articles of Amendment.

The Preamble of the Massachusetts Constitution is a high-level summary of the need for the following language. It also outlines the goals the convention intended to achieve with the passage of the constitution. This is quite similar to the abstract section of a research paper. This model was adopted by the United States Constitution.

Following the Preamble comes the Declaration of Rights, which specifically outlines and enshrines the rights of individual citizens. The specificity here is seen in the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution.

Next comes the frame of state government. This section outlines bicameral legislative body, the governor as the head of the executive branch, and the state Supreme Court. This same structure occurred in the formation of the federal government.

Lastly, the Massachusetts Constitution laid out the method for amending, or making changes, to the document. The framers new that in order to create a longstanding document, it had to have the flexibility to change with new and different generations. This method was also adopted at the federal level.

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Both the US Constitution and the Massachusetts Constitution contain a preamble in which the goals of both documents are stated. Both constitutions provide for government by the people. Both documents provide for a bicameral legislature, a judiciary, and an executive. Both documents provide conditions that must be met before one can be elected to public office. Both documents state that money bills must be heard in the House of Representatives. Both documents also state the lengths of term for each public office. Both documents also have an amendment process.

Both documents have what can be called a Bill of Rights, though the state document does not label them as explicitly as the US Constitution. Both mention the exercise of religion, a ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and a protection against unlawful search and seizure. There are also provisions for freedom of speech as well as the right to keep and bear arms. Article 30 of the state document prohibits a branch of government from doing the job of another branch; in a way, the US Constitution provides for this as well by explicitly providing obligations for all three branches of government.

Both documents also explicitly mention the process by which a census must be taken in order to appropriate representation according to current population densities.

The biggest similarities between the two documents are the mention of the three branches of government and the presence of a Bill of Rights. Since most of the abuses levied by Parliament during the buildup to the American Revolution fell hardest on Massachusetts, it is not surprising that the state has language from both the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence in its constitution.

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First of all, the Constitution of Massachusetts includes an extensive Declaration of Rights that, more or less, guarantees the same civil liberties of the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. However, the Massachusetts Constitution is much more extensive with the enumeration of thirty rights. Overall, it is broader than the US Constitution in this regard.

Both documents lay out the blueprint for very similar governments. They spell out the roles of three separate, but co-equal branches of government. This includes a bicameral legislature, an executive branch, and an independent judiciary. Similar to the US Constitution, but different from that of many other states, judges are appointed by the chief executive (governor) and approved in the legislature.

Both documents were written by representatives. The various states sent representatives to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to draft the US Constitution. Most states, however, had their own constitutions written by their state legislatures. Massachusetts did what the convention in Philadelphia did seven years later and sent representatives to draft its governing document. Each city and town in Massachusetts elected its own constitutional representatives for this purpose.

The Massachusetts Constitution and the US Constitution allow for the possibility of revisions by establishing a clear amendment process. While amendments can not be passed quickly or easily, there is a clear cut process that has been used a number of times throughout the history of each document.

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The Massachusetts Constitution begins with an expansive Declaration of Rights that enshrines many of the civil liberties guaranteed by the amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It also provides for a government that is more or less structurally similar to that of the United States. It provides for a bicameral legislature, with a Senate and House of Representatives. It provides for an executive vested in one person, the governor. Additionally, it creates a Supreme Court and a state judiciary. So while the Massachusetts Constitution is much more explicit in outlining the actual structure and powers of government in the state (maintaining, for example, universities, and outlining the oath of office for all officials) the general framework is the same.  

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