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Political Lingo: The Constitution

It’s Me!



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The Constitution is a really intriguing document.  It is often referred to as the” Supreme Law of the Land.” It was developed in 1787 and went into effect in 1789 after an earlier attempt at creating a governing system under the Articles of Confederation. Although the Articles of Confederation were a noble attempt, the Framers went back to the drawing board and improved their first draft.

The Constitution is a written document that includes three parts: The Preamble, The Articles, and the Amendments.

The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution set the tone as to the relationship that should exist between The People and government—I have underlined the goals constitutionand actions: 

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility (peace at home), provide for the common defence (create a military), promote the general Welfare (take care of the people), and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity (future generations), do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

There are seven Articles and each Article defines the specific roles, duties, and responsibilities of the different parts of government. The most commonly referred to Articles are:

  • Article I: The Legislative Branch (CONGRESS—this is our looooooonggggest Article)
  • Article II: The Executive Branch (The President and his Cabinet)
  • Article III: The Judicial Branch (The Supreme Court)

Lastly, are those Amendments—you know the ones that we often like to quote when we feel justified in voicing our opinions (Freedom of Speech—1st Amendment) or amassing ammunition for the rack of guns owned by members of the NRA and others (The Right to Bear Arms—2nd Amendment)? Yes those. 

Since the Constitution could not possibly know all of the other facets of life in which people would have to contend, there have been 27 additional changes—laws, added to the Constitution. It’s the 21st Century and we are up to 27, but you can rest assured that we are not done!

The Constitution is the go-to document whenever there is any doubt surrounding the way government is carrying out its functions.  Even when the Affordable Care Act was introduced, there were talks among various states that they would not be forced into making the people in their states buy into Obamacare because it was “illegal.”  Well in 2012, the Supreme Court reviewed the legislation and voted that Obamacare was not illegal and was in fact constitutional—that means it followed the laws of the Constitution.

Now don’t get me wrong, states are still going to assert the rights that they have duly been granted by the Constitution under the Tenth Amendment:

“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.

 What does that mean? It simply means that any powers or rights not given to the Federal government are given to state governments. Things like education, minimum wage, and yes, health care coverage are left up to the states.  This battle over Obamacare from representatives of certain states is not the first or the last time states will fight to have their rights maintained.  We saw a similar type of battle over slavery and states’ rights that led up to the Civil War from 1861-1865. 

Obamacare was passed in 2010, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, and our Congress has shut the government down over it in 2013.  We will see more of these occurrences. The question becomes what will be the next profound issue?  The answer is uncertain, but one thing that is not is that the power in the Constitution comes from We, The People.

Let’s use our power.

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