Principles of the Constitution

Principles of the Constitution

The US Constitution

  • The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States and outlines the structure of the nation’s government.
  • It formed the basis of the American governmental system which includes a federal system of government with separation of powers.
  • It was adopted in 1787, replacing the Articles of Confederation in response to government weakness and inefficiency.

Foundation and Implementation

  • This document was crafted during the Philadelphia Convention.
  • Ratification was achieved by assuring states that amendments would be added, protecting individual rights – led to the creation of the Bill of Rights.
  • As part of the process, it needed the approval of at least nine states which was accomplished in 1788.


  • It is a living document, meaning it can be altered through amendments as the USA evolves and society changes.
  • Has only been amended 27 times, indicating its strength and relevance despite age.
  • Notably brief and vague in many areas, which allows for varying interpretations over time to meet the needs of the changing society.


  • The document is divided into seven articles.
  • It outlines three branches of government: Executive (the President), Legislative (Congress: House of Representatives and Senate), and Judicial (the Supreme Court).
  • Article I vests legislative power in Congress. A key principle is the Bicameralism (two legislative bodies).
  • Article II vests executive power in the President.
  • Article III establishes and gives powers to the judicial branch.

Bill of Rights

  • The first 10 amendments together are known as the Bill of Rights.
  • The Bill of Rights sought to safeguard individual liberties and rights.
  • Outline some of the most fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech (First Amendment) and right to bear arms (Second Amendment).

Key Constitutional Principles

  • Federalism – Power is divided between the national and state governments.
  • Separation of Powers – Powers and responsibilities are divided among the three branches of government.
  • Checks and Balances – Each branch of government can limit the power of the other two branches.

It is expected that all of the above key points are thoroughly understood and studied, as they often form the backdrop for a lot of the more specific aspects of U.S. Politics.