The U. S. Constitution: Simplied…Abbreviated for beginning understanding or quick reference
When you just want to get the general or simplified idea of what is covered, TFP offers an abbreviated version of the U.S. Constitution. Think of this as your “pocket version” of the full Constitution. It is not meant to be a version for legal purposes or study. It is meant to give our members the general idea of each portion of the Constitution for better understanding or a beginning approach to learning about the greatest document of freedom the world had experienced.
US Constitution Simplified: When Was the Constitution Written?
The US Constitution was put into writing on September 17, 1787 by the Constitutional Convention. The original US Constitution is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
US Constitution Simplified: The Structure The words and phrases used in the Constitution can be difficult to understand. It is very long and uses words that we no longer use in modern times. We have provided articles on all the different parts of the US Constitution with the original text and a definition and summary of what each part means. The US Constitution was written by the Founding Fathers who stated that if the people ever want to change the Constitution they must do it by amendment. The people had to have a way to change the Constitution if they wanted to add or remove (repeal) a power given to government.
US Constitution Simplified: The Structure
1. The Preamble
The US Constitution has an introduction called the ‘Preamble’ that explains why it was written.
2. The ‘Articles’
The Constitution has seven parts, called “Articles”.
3. The Bill of Rights
The first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution are called the ‘Bill of Rights and guarantee basic liberties to American citizens
4. Amendments 11 – 27
Changes or additions to the Constitution are called Constitutional Amendments
US Constitution Simplified: The Elements and Summary of the Constitution The following table contains all of the elements and the Summary of each – the US Constitution Simplified! The links take you to articles containing the text and a detailed summary of each.
US Constitution Simplified: Basics
Preamble to the Constitution
Explains that the Constitution proposes to establish a more perfect government complete with justice, tranquility, and liberty.
Establishes the Legislative Branch (the Senate and the House of Representatives).
Establishes the Executive Branch (Administration, headed by the President).
Establishes the Judicial Branch (the system of courts and judges).
Establishes the relationship between the states and the federal government. Describes how to admit new states to the Union.
How to amend the Constitution, called Constitutional Amendments.
Establishes the Constitution as the supreme law of the USA and that Public officials must take an oath to support the US Constitution. It also Authorizes the national debt meaning that Congress can borrow money.
Lists the requirements for ratification of the Constitution
Bill of Rights Amendments 1-10
BILL OF RIGHTS
US Constitution Simplified: AMENDMENTS 1-10 were added to the Constitution in 1791 and are collectively called the Bill of Rights which reserves the rights of the people.
Freedom of speech, religion and the press
The Right to bear arms
Limits the quartering (housing) of soldiers
Search and seizure of property only when there is ‘probable cause’
Right to a trial by Jury, no self-testimony, double-jeopardy clause (a person be tried twice for the same crime), right to compensation. Extended to include the Miranda Rights
Right to a speedy and fair trial by jury and confrontation of witnesses
Trial by Jury in Civil Cases & the rights of those being sued.
Prohibits excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment
Constitution does not include all of the rights of the people and the states
The powers of the Federal Government, individual States and the People.
Judicial limits – prohibits the citizen of one state, or another country, from suing another state in Federal court
Method for choosing the President, Vice President
Rights of citizenship to all people born in USA or naturalized
Gives the right to vote to all citizens, regardless of color or race. Women are not mentioned
Income tax authorized – Government can collect taxes on people’s incomes
Senators elected by the popular vote by the people, rather than by State Legislators
Prohibition – Liquor prohibited (repealed by the 21st amendment)
Women’s suffrage (giving women voting rights)
New terms of office for the President and Congress – changed date of inauguration to January 20. (aka Lame Duck amendment)
Amendment 18 repealed, Prohibition is overturns
Presidential term limited – no one can be elected President more than twice
Presidential vote given to residents of Washington, D. C.
Poll taxes barred (you cannot charge people to vote)
Presidential disability and succession
Voting age lowered to 18 years old
Congressional pay increases go into effect only during the next Congressional session, meaning Congress cannot vote itself a pay rise – any pay rise would only count for the next congress.
US Constitution Simplified: The Purpose of the Constitution of America
Why do we have a constitution? The purpose of the US Constitution, and the six functions of government, are described in the Preamble (the opening statement). The purpose of the US Constitution prescribing the government of America was designed to ensure the happiness and well being of American citizens. Without the Constitution, governmental power would not be defined or limited and the rights of all citizens would not be protected.
The purpose of the US Constitution is:
US Constitution Simplified: Aims and Purpose of the Constitution of America
1. To ” Form a more perfect union”.
Meaning: The union is solidly structured and everlasting
2. To “Establish justice”
Meaning: A system to hear complaints and resolve issues
3. To “Ensure domestic tranquility”
Meaning: To live without fear in a peaceful community
4. To “Provide for the common defense”
Meaning: Citizens will be protected from attacks by enemies
5. To “Promote the general welfare”
Meaning: Government policies will benefit all of the people
6. To “Secure the blessings of liberty”
Meaning: Present and future generations will enjoy independence and freedom.
Ratification: The Need The path to ratification of the U. S. Constitution was paved with lessons learned, obstacles and debate. America was floundering. They had won the war to be free of the oppression of a king, but were losing the battle to organize a thriving nation. Strongly opposed to any type of strong central government, the Founders organized America as a confederacy. The Articles of Confederation were adopted on November 15, 1777 and its ratification was completed on March 1, 1781. The idea of a weak central government and strong State governments appealed to every American citizen, who bravely fought for America’s freedom from the King of England. But, following the ratification, reality was […]
Civics: Americans Can Be Outdone by Immigrants Civics and the U. S. Citizen The Founding Fathers of the United States of America most deliberately and brilliantly made Individual Rights the shining star of the Constitution. It was the absolute sticking point for every Founding Father and a critical element of the U.S. Constitution. It is the Individual Rights recognized as indestructible by man or government that makes the United States a Constitutional Republic and specifically guards against any other form of government from monarchy to simple democracy or majority rule. The Constitution boldly declares that these Individual Rights are iron clad. They cannot be chipped, changed, challenged, chopped or cheated away from citizens. The Big […]
Principles of Constitutional Interpretation People attempt to interpret the principles of the Constitution (constitutional interpretation) and get it wrong because of faulty technique or trying to bend it to their own agenda. Read below and let’s explore a better understanding of the Constitution… I studied Pre-Constitutional Law and Political Science at Texas A&M and most of my information is from my time in pursuit of my degree. Remember: If the Constitution was simple and easy to understand, we wouldn’t need the Supreme Court! Constitutional interpretation, or constitutional construction, the term more often used by the Founders, is the process by which legal decisions are made that are justified by a constitution, although not necessarily correctly. […]