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Transcript of American Constitution
US Government and Politics: The Constitution
What factors influence American Politics?
Know - The key factors which influence the American political system.
Understand - The Key differences between the UK and American systems.
Skills - AO1, AO2.
Comparing the UK and America.
Using the information sheet explain as many differences concerning the structure of the USA and the UK as possible.
KEY QUESTION - In what ways might these differences affect the structure of American politics? Use the knowledge you have gained in the last year to help.
1) Name as many states as you can.
2) Name as many Presidents as you can.
3) How many time zones does the USA have.
4) Who were the Founding Fathers?
5) What is the relevance of the donkey and elephant to American politics?
Expectations - The 3 Rs
1) Be Ready - Come to class prepared to work. This means having all the equipment needed for the lesson and having an open and inquisitive mind.
2) Be Responsible - Participate, pay attention, make your best effort and ask for help when you need it. At A Level, this also means working independently.
3) Be Respectful - Listen when others are talking, put your hand up to answer questions and encourage others' learning.
Do we agree these are fair?
AO1: Knowledge and Understanding.
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of relevant institutions, processes, political concepts, theories and debates.
AO2: Analysis, Evaluation, Connections.
Analyse and evaluate political information, arguments and explanations, and identify parallels, connections, similarities and differences between aspects of the political systems studied.
AO3: Essay Writing/Debate.
Construct and communicate coherent arguments making use of a range of appropriate political vocabulary.
Develop a critical awareness of the nature of politics and the relationship between political ideas, institutions and processes.
Acquire knowledge and understanding of the structures of authority and power within the political system of the United Kingdom, and how these may differ from those of other political systems.
Acquire knowledge and informed understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the individual and encourage an interest in, and engagement with, contemporary politics.
The Constitution - nature and principles; the constitutional framework; relationship with political parties; constitutional rights and their effectiveness.
Congress - Structure and workings of Congress; the distribution of power in Congress, debates about its representative role; significance and effectiveness of Congress; the role and significance of party allegiance.
Presidency - Sources of power, relationship with other institutions; role; evaluation of the position's power and of recent presidents.
Supreme Court - Composition; role; appointment process; significance and impact on public policy.
Written examination: 1 hour 30 minutes
For each topic students are required to answer three short-answer questions from a choice of five (15 marks each).
Students are then required to answer one essay question from a choice of three (45 marks).
In all questions, students will be required to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding; analyse and evaluate political information, arguments and explanations; and to construct and communicate coherent arguments. (AO1, AO2, AO3)
Describes factors influencing American politics.
Critically evaluates how American conditions can cause problems in American politics.
Contrasts British and American conditions and explains how they influence the structure of politics.
Which factor is the most important factor influencing American politics and why?
What are the key features of the US Constitution?
Know - The key features of the US Constitution
Understand - The intentions of the Framers of the constitution and its contemporary relevance.
Skills - AO1, AO2 and AO3.
Summarises the key features of the US Constitution.
Explains the intentions of the framers.
H/W: How did the American Constitution come about on the 17th September 1787?
Complete notes using pp.4-7 in Bennett and one other source (added detail is expected) on:
The 13 colonies.
Richard Lee's proposal.
Articles of Confederation
Makes a judgement on the contemporary relevance of the US constitution.
TASK: Building a definition
Define what is meant by the word “constitution.” In your definition try and include the following:
1. A discussion of the Codified/Uncodified divide.
2. A comparison between the British “constitution” and American constitution.
Do you feel that a constitution written in 1787 should still have an impact on modern politics today? Explain your answer. Consider and develop arguments both supporting and opposing this question.
TASK:Contentious Topic Focus
A constitution is a code of rules laying down both the framework and powers of the government and the relationship between the government and the governed.
A.J Bennett, “British and American constitutions compared.” Politics Review, sept 2001, p8.
TASK: The 6 Big Ideas of the Constitution
Republicanism is a political values system which stresses liberty and "unalienable" rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, rejects aristocracy and inherited political power. It also expects citizens to be independent in their performance of civic duties.
Checks and Balances
This is a system involving the prevention of the concentration of power within the hands of individuals, groups and/or institutions.
Separation of Powers
The people are the source of all governmental power and the government can only exist with the consent of the governed.
There are 6 Big ideas in the US Constitution.
A system of government in which the power to govern is divided between a central governing authority (the nation state) and other units (such as states or provinces).
The division of government powers into coequal branches with a distinction between the roles.
Steps to success:
1. Skimread the US Constitution.
2.Use your copy of the Constitution to complete the sheet.
3. What does the wording in the constitution reveal about the intentions of the framers?
The size and scope of the government is limited to an extent in which it is necessary only for the common good of the people.
Which branch of government is most powerful?
Know - The chronology of the writing of the US constitution
Understand - How contemporary debates influenced the form of the constitution
Skills - Judgement, Summary, Evaluation
Know - The process of amending the constitution.
Understand - Why there have bee so few
Skills - Analysis and Evaluation.
Whilst watching the video consider these questions:
1) Why did the Articles of Confederation fail?
2) What issues influenced the framers?
3) How democratic were the intentions of the framers?
How did eighteenth century debates influence the framing of the US constitution?
What is the relevance of : S
1. Cut the sheet out and match the checks and balances with the correct branch - create a mind map with the information.
2.Research examples of each of the different checks and balances in action -
these will be some of your most important examples.
3. What problems might be associated with checks and balances?
TASK: Constitution Solutions
Tyranny of Government
Tyranny of the People
Need for Stronger Government
Using your copy of the constitution, homework notes, textbook and the video explain why the following were an issue for the framers and how solutions were devised to deal with them.
Describes the chronology of the Constitution.
Explains the key debates at the time and how these influenced the constitution.
Understands the requirements of 15 Mark Question.
TASK: Checks and Balances
Why is it so difficult to amend the constitution?
TASK: Amending Problems
1.Why is it so difficult to amend the constitution?
Amendment process is deliberately difficult
Constitution is unspecific (e.g. provide for the common defence and general welfare)
Judicial Review – interprets constitution and can effectively change meaning (“interpretative amendments”)
Prohibition is a lesson – amend with caution!!
2.What advantages and disadvantages does the difficult process bring to the American political system?
3. How relevant to the modern day is the Bill of Rights?
4.Which existing amendment might a Flag Desecration amendment come into conflict with?
5. Why do you think the vast majority of amendments fail? Explain your answer.
Which of these are genuine proposed amendments to the Constitution?
Make marriage between races illegal.
Abolish the United States Army and Navy
Rename the country the "Federal States of America."
Limit personal wealth to $1 million
Rename the nation the “United States of the Earth”
Never been used
Evaluates the amendment process and recent attempts at amendments using examples.
Explains the amendment process.
Identifies strengths and limitations associated with the amendment process.
Know - The history of federalism and how it operates.
Understand - The consequences of the federal system to different spheres
Skills - Categorising information, evaluation.
How effective is Federalism?
TASK: History of Federalism
Create a timeline of the changing federal-state relationship.
Key eras of federalism
General trends over time.
Extension - What were the main causes of the developments in federalism over time?
TASK: Consequences of Federalism
To what extent has federalism been eroded as a constitutional principle? (15 Marks)
1. Organise the cards into the relevant spaces.
2. Using the cards and pp.33 respond to the following statement: "The advantages of federalism outweigh its drawbacks."
Decribes how federalism works.
Explains how federalism evolved over time using evidence.
Critically evaluates the consequences of federal system using evidence.
Why did the scope of the Federal Government increase under George W. Bush?
Know - Key features of George W. Bush's approach to federalism.
Understand - The reasons why Federal power grew under George W. Bush.
Skills - Categorising evidence, constructing an argument.
TASK: Elastic Clause
In your own words, explain what the elastic clause is.
What are the benefits of the elastic cause?
1) What evidence is their of a continuation of independent and innovative policies by individual states?
2) What evidence supports the idea that economic problems have forced an increase in the role of federal government?
3) What evidence shows that the increased role of federal government has been a consequence of the ‘war on terror’?
4) What evidence supports the idea that federal government increased its scope in order to achieve President Bush’s policy priorities?
5) What evidence is their of supreme court rulings enhancing the role of federal government?
TASK: George Bush's Federalism
Explains the elastic clause.
Categorises evidence to create an overview of the reasons for the growth of federal power under Bush.
Evaluates the reasons for the growth of Federal power under Bush and identifies the most important using evidence.
How has the Obama Administration approached federalism?
Use the computer room to discover:
1. Two key Obama policies and two key Trump policies which have caused tension in federal-state relations.
2. Find out:
What the debate was over.
What the result was.
What it demonstrates about the changing federal-state relationship under Obama/Trump.
TASK: Obama Federalism
Obama has presided over the "death of federalism"
Read pp. 31-32.
1. What is the key reason for Obama's approach to federalism?
2. In what areas has federal spending grown during the Obama administration?
3. What reasons can you develop together for the growth of federal power in the 21st century?
Know - How to structure a 45 mark question.
Understand - What examiners are looking for in the 45 mark question.
Skills - Exam Practice.
How to Answer a 45 Mark Question
"Transformed beyond recognition from the vision of the Founding Fathers." Discuss this view of the modern US constitution.
Practise Exam Question
TASK: Practise Marking
Step 1: read the sample essay and mark scheme.
Step 2: Annotate the essay making clear strengths and limitations.
Step 3: Which band would you put the essay in?
Step 4: Give it a mark out of 45.
Using the textbook and your notes - develop:
1. An overall argument.
2. A paragraph structure.
3. Evidence for both sides (one person do each side).
Due: Tuesday 15 October
How can the constitution be reformed informally?
Know - Methods of reforming the constitution informally.
Understand - The extent to which it is difficult to reform the constitution.
Skills - Comprehension, Analysis and Judgement.
TASK: Informal or Formal Reform Process
1. Explain different informal amendment processes.
2.Why are informal changes to the U.S. Constitution essential to meeting the needs of American society?
3. How far does the informal amendment process reflect a growth in executive power?
4. How flexible is the US constitution? Take into account both the formal and informal process of amendment.
TASK: Informal Amendment Process
Explains the informal means of amending the consitution.
Categorises features of the informal and formal amendment processes.
Evaluates the extent of the flexibility of the constitution.
Does the US constitution really ensure limited government?
EXAM ALERT: Answering 15 Mark Question
Explain the principles of the US constitution.
Good to excellent:
• knowledge and understanding of relevant institutions,
processes, political concepts, theories or debates.
• ability to analyse and explain political information, arguments
• ability to construct and communicate coherent arguments,
making good use of appropriate vocabulary
TASK: Reading Review
PLENARY: Constitution Bingo
2 year term
STARTER: Constitutional Quandires
What would the consequences for the constitution be after the Obergefeld vs. Hodges (2015) decision?
The Informal Amendment Process
Passage of laws which add details to the skeletal frame of many existing amendments. E.g. Congress has set up federal courts and executive agencies.
Use of Congress' powers - the power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce - Congress has used its power to pass legislation expand this.
Use of executive agreement - pact with foreign power - do not need agreement with Senate.
Executive action to deploy troops as Commander in Chief -short of declaring war which requires approval from Congress.
The activities of political parties
The process by which over time many changes have been made to the constitution which have not involved any changes in its written word.
Marbury vs Madison - Established principle for judicial review.
Citizens United vs. Federal Electoral Commission (2010) - Political speech rights for corporations.
Obergefell vs. Hodges (2015) -Gay Marriage legalised.
Head of fourtneen excutive departments make up the President’s cabinet.
2-term custom for Presidents up to FDR -Note that 2 term-custom actually became a formal amendment after the custom was broken by FDR.
Senatorial Courtesy - agreement among senators not to vote for any presidential nominee who is opposed by the senators from the nominee’s home state.
Parties have developed the process for selecting presidential candidates.
Turned the Electoral College into a rubber stamp.
Internal rules of House and Senate developed by members.
KEY QUESTION: What was the key reason for the expansion in Federal Government power under George W. Bush?
The War on Terror
Supreme Court Decisions
Attempts to complete policy priorities
"States should have the right to enact laws... particularly to end the inhumane practice of ending a life that otherwise could lives."
George W. Bush
Does the US Constitution Work?
How far does the US Constitution protect Individual Rights?
Know - How rights are protected within the US constitution.
Understand - The extent to which rights are effectively protected.
Skills - Synthesising information, utilising evidence and debate.
Know - .
The Constitution adequately protects the rights of the individual.
The "State Action" Doctrine
*The Bill of Rights and equal protection clause do not apply to private conduct. E.g. The 1st Amendment begins 'Congress shall make no law...'
*With some exceptions, private persons and organizations do not have to comply with the Constitution. E.g. while a public university cannot unduly restrict the free speech rights of its students, private universities are not subject to this rule.
*Congress does have the power, under other constitutional provisions, to pass statutes that apply constitutional standards to private conduct - Under the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, Congress has the power to prohibit private racial discrimination (using its power to abolish “all badges and incidences of slavery”). Congress also has used its power to regulate interstate commerce to prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
Evaluates how successfully the constitution protects rights.
Explains how rights are protected under the constitution.
Even though there are three equal branches of our government defined by the constitution, do you believe that one has more power over the other two? If so, why?
TASK: How is Power Separated?
Know - The powers of the different branches and how they check and balance each other.
Understand - Which branch might be considered the most powerful.
Research, categorising evidence and constructing arguments.
"To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race."
Using the separation of powers, checks and balances and your knowledge of the UK constitution to construct an argument in favour of this quote.
TASK: Supporting Coolidge
Creates an argument in favour of the US Constitution by comparing it the UK.
Explains examples of the checks and balances of the constitution in action.
Describes the powers of the different branches of government and the checks and balances between them.
Does the US government ensure limited government?
Under what circumstances could big government prove popular?
With your partner discuss the following:
1. The general argument of the article.
2. Evidence it uses to support its argument.
3. Terms/concepts that you found difficult.
4. Your viewpoint - were you convinved by the article? Why?
Know - The contents of the Bill of Rights.
Understand - The extent to which the US constitution ensures that government is limited.
Skills - Summary, document analysis, evaluation and debate.
Summarises the features of limited government.
Explains the means by which the constitution limits government.
Evaluates whether government is truly limited by the US constitution.
What are the features of limited government?
TASK: The Bill of Rights or excuse for government overeach?
Using your copy of the Bill of Rights:
Step 1: Read the different amendments to give yourself a feel for the document.
Step 2: How might first amendment limit government but also allow for its extension - TIP - think about the wording.
Step 3: Look at the tenth amendment - how does this limit the power of government?
Step 4: Using the document - identify at least two areas where government has been limited in America by the Bill of Rights potentially to the detriment of the people.
Is the amendment process the reason why the Constitution has lasted so long?
Which amendment that has already been passed is the most important? What makes it the most important?
What contemporary events and/or issues may lead to constitutional amendments in the future? Why?
How many constitutional amendments do you know?
Actions taken by the President.
The passage of basic legislation by Congress
1. Congress involved.
2. President involved.
3. States involved.
4. Judiciary involved.
5. Requires a super majority in Congress.
6. Requires a simple majority in Congress.
7. Involves political parties.
8. Introduced by individuals.
Key decisions of the Supreme Court