7 principles of the US Constitution

US Constitution

The Constitution of the United States of America is an empowering contracts between individuals and government. It affirms that individuals have rights and powers. It declares that governments are only as powerful as its citizens allow it to be. In just 7 Articles and 27 Amendments, it offers guideposts for a representative democracy.

I hope that you will take the time to read the US Constitution. Reflect on how this document changed the way we relate to our government. Compare the government envisioned by the Founders and the government we have today.

For teachers and parents, the Center for Legislative Archives offers a lesson plan that identifies “Six Big Ideas” in the US Constitution. Other lesson plans add a seventh principle, Individual Rights, that is the basis for all of the powers granted in the Constitution.

7 principles of the US Constitution:

1. Popular Sovereignty. Citizens grant government its powers.

2. Limited Government. Government can exercise only those powers that individuals have granted to it through the Constitution.

3. Separation of Powers. Government is divided into three branches: Congress passes laws, Presidents implement laws, and Courts interpret laws.

4. Checks and Balances. Branches of government are limited by and held accountable to each other.

5. Republicanism. Citizens elect their Representatives and Senators, as well as the President and Vice President.

6. Federalism. Government’s powers are clearly divided between the federal government and the states. Amendment X affirms, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

7. Individual Rights. Individuals have basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence calls them “inalienable Rights,” such as the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to personal property.

These same principles about a democratic government can also be applied to classrooms and families, or any organization. Education.com has free activity to “Draft a Family Constitution” – complete with torn edges and tea stains.

What do you admire about the US Constitution? If you could many any changes or add an Amendment, what would it be?

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