The U.S. Constitution is based on four major constitutional principles.

How does the Constitution treat freedom, order and equality? 
  • Balanced freedom and order
  • Ignored social equality

The structure of the Constitution, 7 Articles 
  • Article I -- legislative power. 
  • Article II -- qualifications for president, election, duties, powers. 
  • Article III -- Supreme Court 
  • Coverage of remaining 4 articles 
    IV. State's Relations
    - Full faith and credit

    - National government to protect states

    V. The amending process
    VI. The supremacy clause and oaths of office
    VII. Ratification process

Which model of democracy best fits the Constitution?
  • The framers succeeded in creating a republic, a government resting on majority consent; they did not intend to create a majoritarian democracy. 
    J. Allen Smith, The Spirit of American Government (1907): "The framers of the American Constitution, however, succeeded in erecting barriers which democracy has found it more difficult to overcome. For more than a century the constitutional bulwarks which they raised against the rule of the numerical majority have obstructed and retarded the progress of the democratic movement." (p.207)
  • Democracy and limits on government 
    • Majoritarian doesn't tolerate limits
    • Pluralist requires limits

Federalism and limited government 

  • "federal government," embraces BOTH the national and state governments. 
  • The basis for allocation of powers between nation and state was established in the Constitution.
    • The Framers' concerns: 
      • wanted a stronger national government
      • wanted to preserve the role of the states 
    • The National government lacks "police powers" over individuals'
      • Health
      • Morals
      • Safety
      • Welfare

Constitution provisions 

  • Section 8 of Article I
    • enumerates the power of Congress, in 17 clauses, e.g.,
      • Lay and collect taxes
      • borrow money
      • declare war
      • regulate interstate commerce
    • The 18th allows Congress "To make all laws which are necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers"
      • called the "necessary and proper"
      • Or the "elastic" clause 
AMENDMENT X: powers reserved to the states

Inventing police powers: The role of the Courts 
  • Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US (1964) 
    • 1964 Civil Rights Act barred discrimination in places of public accommodation 
    • In 1883 the Court had struck down a similar law on the ground that private acts of discrimination could not be forbidden by the national government. 
    • In 1964, the Court found ample power in the Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce.
  • 1965 Voting Rights Act 
    • Article I Section 2 gives states the power to specify voting qualifications 
    • The 15th Amendment (1870) provides that no person shall be denied the right to vote on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. 
    • The Voting Rights Act sent registrars to southern counties with low black registration.

Changing the balance of power in the federal system -- Data from National surveys:
  • 1936 Gallup Survey: "Which do you favor, concentration of power in the federal governments or in the state governments?" 
    • 44% State
    • 56 - National
  • 1939 Roper Survey: "Whiich do you think is the most honest and efficient in performing its own special duties?" 
    • 41% Federal
    • 17 - Local
    • 12 - State
  • 1941 Gallup Survey: "Do you think there is too much power in the hands of the national government?" 
    • 56% No
    • 32 - Yes
  • 1964 Gallup Survey: 
    • 28% Federal government has too much power
    • 35 - Has right amount
    • 31 - Should use its power more
  • 1995 Time/CNN Survey "Do you favor or oppose having the states take over more responsibilities now performed by the federal government?" 
    • 75% Favor
    • 15 - Oppose