Overview

Relevant Court Cases:

  1. Marbury v. Madison (1803)
  2. Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
  3. McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
  4. U.S. v. Lopez (1995)

Readings:

John Locke Second Treatise, of Civil Government

  1. How does John Locke describe the state of nature?
  2. Why do people leave the state of nature and join political society by establishing a government?
  3. Under what conditions can government be dissolved?

Declaration of Independence

  1. What basic human rights are mentioned in the declaration?
  2. Cite specific examples in the Declaration of Independence that support Locke’s influence on Jefferson.
  3. What had the colonists tried to do before declaring independence? Hint: look at last few paragraphs
  4. What powers do the signers of the Declaration claim as free and independent states?

Federalist 10 p. 174

  1. What is a faction? Give examples from today.
  2. What does Madison say is the principal cause of faction? Was that accurate for his time? Is that accurate today? If not, what is the root cause of faction today?
  3. According to Madison, what would it take to eliminate faction? What does Madison propose to control faction?
  4. Why does he feel that factions are essential to a free government?

Federalist 47,48, 51

  1. How does Madison justify the intermixture of powers?
  2. What should be the most powerful branch? Why?
  3. Look at the quote “ambition must be made to counteract ambition; if men were angels…”. What does that mean? How does this statement apply to today’s political climate?
  4. What was Madison’s view of human nature? Is he accurate?
  5. Madison seems to focus on how this government prevents the arbitrary use of power rather than on how to guarantee effective leadership. Why? Is that a good way to frame a government? Is the Constitution as negative as Madison implies?

Key Terms:

  1. Locke
  2. Enlightenment
  3. Republic
  4. Popular sovereignty
  5. Republicanism
  6. Majority rule/ minority rights
  7. Amendment Process (formal/informal)
  8. Declaration of Independence
  9. Natural rights
  10. Consent of the governed
  11. Limited government
  12. Articles of Confederation
  13. Shay’s Rebellion
  14. Factions (Federalist # 10)
  15. New Jersey Plan
  16. Virginia Plan
  17. Connecticut Compromise
  18. Three‐fifths Compromise
  19. Writ of habeas corpus
  20. Checks and balances
  21. Separation of powers
  22. Federalists
  23. Anti‐federalists
  24. Framer’s Intent
  25. Bill of Rights
  26. Judicial Review
  27. Montesquieu
  28. Social Contract
  29. Federalism
  30. Unitary government
  31. Confederation government
  32. Intergovernmental relations
  33. Supremacy clause
  34. Tenth Amendment
  35. Enumerated powers/expressed powers
  36. Concurrent powers
  37. Reserved powers
  38. Implied powers
  39. Elastic Clause
  40. Bill of attainder
  41. Ex post facto law
  42. Full faith and credit clause
  43. Extradition
  44. Privileges and immunities
  45. Dual federalism
  46. Cooperative federalism
  47. Fiscal federalism
  48. Categorical grants
  49. Project grants
  50. Formula grants
  51. Block grants
  52. Revenue sharing
  53. New Federalism
  54. Interstate Commerce Clause
  55. Devolution
  56. Mandates (funded vs. unfunded)

Key Questions:

  1. What is a constitution?
  2. What were some of the reasons for the colonists’ declaration of independence from Great Britain?
  3. What is the tone of the Declaration of Independence?
  4. Identify some of the influences of Locke on Jefferson as reflected in the DOI.
  5. What were the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?
  6. Why did the framers initially create a confederation?
  7. What was the original purpose of the Philadelphia Convention?
  8. How did Shay’s rebellion lead to the Constitutional Convention?
  9. List and explain the issues and points of contention and debated at the convention. List a resolution where applicable. List
    issues related to both equality and economics.
  10. What provisions exist for individual rights within the constitution?
  11. What are the components of the Madisonian model?
  12. Identify the Federalists. Explain their arguments.
  13. Identify the Anti‐federalists. Explain their arguments.
  14. What was the purpose of the Federalist papers?
  15. What was the most persuasive argument made by the Anti‐federalists?
  16. What are the ways to amend the constitution? Which was is most commonly used? How often has it been done?
  17. What does it mean to informally amend the constitution? Provide some examples.
  18. Define judicial review. What case was responsible for this power?
  19. Characterize the framers attitude towards democracy.
  20. Differentiate unitary, federal, and confederate systems.
  21. How does Article IV provide for state relationships?
  22. Why has the US moved from dual federalism to cooperative federalism?
  23. What problems exist as a result of the system of fiscal federalism?
  24. What are expressed/enumerated powers?
  25. What are denied powers?
  26. What are concurrent powers?
  27. What are reserved powers?
  28. What are implied powers?
  29. Explain the movement towards devolution/New Federalism.

Key Concepts:

1. The Constitution was written as a result of a combination of historical, social, and political circumstances and events.  Among these is America’s heritage as a British colony, as well as the lengthy evolution of representative government in Great Britain.  The Constitution also mirrors the problems the young nation faced after the Revolution, the conflicts waged and the compromises offered at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and the struggle over ratification.

2. The Constitution embodies five basic principles: popular sovereignty and representative government tempered by indirect election, limited government, separation of powers and checks and balances, federalism, and judicial review.

3. The unusually long life and durability of the Constitution owes much to its concise yet flexible text, which has allowed Congress, the president, and the courts to interpret the Constitution in ways appropriate foe changing conditions.  Because the Constitution has proven so adaptable, it has not been necessary to change it frequently through formal amendment.  It is, however, not perfect.

4. The drafters of the Constitution sought to create a government capable of governing, promoting economic development, and maintaining individual rights.  The Federalist Papers reflect this philosophy and were written to convince opponents of ratification.  Since ratification, a movement toward greater political and social equality has resulted in a series of amendments that has advanced the cause of equality while leaving the fundamental structure unaltered.

5. The Constitution is not neutral in its impact.  By dividing government power among the three branches of government and between the states and the federal government, it has made quick, decisive, and comprehensive policy making difficult.  But at the same time, divided governmental power has provided citizens with multiple points of access to decision-makers, encouraged policy making through negotiation, bargaining, and compromise, and proven resistant to authoritarian rule.

6. Federalism is a constitutional division of powers of government between the national and the regional (state) governments, with each exercising significant powers.  It was the “price of union” – a necessary means for creating one nation out of thirteen highly independent states.

7. Until the 1930’s, American federalism was characterized by the national and state governments operating in largely separate and distinct spheres of authority. But with the advent of the New Deal in the 1930’s and the subsequent extensions of the federal government’s role, federal-state relations have been characterized by cooperative federalism, in which responsibilities are shared among the federal, state, and local governments.

8. An essential element of cooperative federalism is the grant-in-aid system, which transfers funds from the federal government to the states and localities for the purpose of carrying out federal policies.  Federal grants have enabled state and local governments to expand their services but have also made them heavily dependent on the federal government for funds.

9. Because of the expanded role of the federal government since the 1930’s the federal system of today is clearly more centralized than what the Framers envisioned.  Which level of government should perform which functions and how these functions should be paid for are continuing sources of conflict and politics.