1. What is included in the US Constitution?
The US Constitution is divided into seven articles. Article I, II, III establish the governance structure of the United States. Article I establishes two legislative bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate, to make the laws to govern the nation. Article II establishes the executive branch, which is led by the President, to enforce laws. Article III establishes the judicial branch of government to review the constitutionality of laws and their execution. Since its passage, the Constitution has been amended 27 times. Most of these amendments serve to protect individual rights, known as “fundamental rights”, against government infringement. Perhaps the best-known constitutional rights are stated in the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, which make up the Bill of Rights. The 14th Amendment, arguably the most important amendment, extended the protections afforded individuals under the Constitution by applying those provisions to state governments. Notably, the 14th Amendment introduced the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.
• Note: The Constitution protects against government infringement of individual rights. It does not protect against infringement by individuals.
• Discussion: Do you think that the brevity of the Constitution is positive or negative? Why do you think the document is concise? Do you believe that the Constitution should be subject to amendment? If so, under what conditions should the Constitution be amended?