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Our Constitution: Chapter 2 – What Kind of Government Did the Constitution Create?

Monarchs ruled the nations of the world when the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787. Some monarchies, such as the one that ruled Great Britain, also had parliaments in which the people and the aristocracy were represented. As parliamentary systems developed, they combined legislative and executive functions, with the prime minister and other cabinet members serving as members of Parliament. This differs sharply from the separation of powers established in our Constitution.

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Our Constitution: Chapter 3 – What Rights Does the Constitution Protect?

Surveys show that alarming numbers of Americans are unaware of the full extent of their constitutional rights. Some people readily admit that they do not know what rights are included in the Constitution and its first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. Other Americans have expressed the opinion that the Constitution went too far in granting such rights as free speech and free press and that society should be able to restrict opinions and behavior with which the majority disapproves.

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Our Constitution: Further Reading

This resource is a bibliography for those interested in reading more about the rights and responsibilities of citizens enumerated in the Constitution.

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The Pursuit of Justice: Chapter 1: The Rise of Judicial Review

Like many Supreme Court cases, the great case of Marbury v. Madison began simply. William Marbury and three other people did not receive appointments as justices of the peace for the District of Columbia. Their claim before the Court was the result of a general effort by the outgoing administration of President John Adams to place its Federalist supporters in newly created judicial positions.

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Our Constitution: Article I

The framers of the Constitution separated the powers of government into three branches, granting legislative power (the power to pass laws) to Congress, executive power (the power to administer the laws) to the President, and judicial power (the power to interpret laws and decide legal disputes) to the courts.

Website

National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center site provides classroom resources related to the Constitution as well as civic participation and responsibility, and the executive branch. Online resources include interactive games, videos, webcasts, primary and secondary sources, Constitution Fast Facts, biographies of Constitutional Convention delegates, and the Interactive Constitution guide.

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Understanding Democracy: A Hip Pocket Guide: Constitution

A constitution is the basic law and general plan of government or a people within a country. The purposes, powers, and limitations of government are prescribed in the constitution. It thus sets forth the way people are governed or ruled.

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The Pursuit of Justice: Appendix

This annotated list provides citations and brief descriptions of important Supreme Court decisions, presented in an A–Z format. Most of the cases are related in some way to the topics and cases treated in the chapters of this book. In addition, this list includes every case—except those already emphasized in the chapters— mentioned in the social studies standards of the state departments of education throughout the United States.

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The Pursuit of Justice: Chapter 4: Denying an Appeal for Freedom

In 1857 the Supreme Court refused to grant Dred Scott’s petition for freedom from slavery. In the 1830s, Dred Scott had moved from St. Louis with his owner, Dr. Emerson, to the free state of Illinois. After Emerson’s death, Scott returned to St. Louis with the doctor’s widow.

Glossary Term

Constitution

A constitution is the basic law and general plan of government for a people within a country. The purposes, powers, and limitations of government are prescribed in the constitution. It thus sets forth the way a people is governed or ruled. A constitution is the supreme law of a country. Laws later enacted by the

Video

Magna Carta and the Constitution – History

This video tells the story of the origins of the Magna Carta and explores the two most important principles that it symbolizes: rule of law and due process. Students will learn how the framers interpreted and redefined the rule of law and due process when they created our Constitution.

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Our Constitution: Article V

Realizing that over time the nation would want to make changes to the Constitution, its framers established a process to allow that to happen. Unlike laws and regulations that can be passed by simple majorities in Congress, the Constitution is more difficult to change.

Handout

Magna Carta’s Influence on the Constitution

Students will learn about the principles that undergird the Magna Carta and how they have influenced important legal documents. More specifically, students will evaluate the Magna Carta’s impact on the U.S. Constitution.

Book

Our Constitution: Our Constitution

This book takes an in-depth look at the Constitution, annotated with detailed explanations of its terms and contents. Included are texts of primary source materials, sidebar material on each article and amendment, profiles of Supreme Court cases, and timelines.

Video

The Constitution Project in the Classroom

This video describes the Constitution Project film series and shows teachers how to use the award-winning films in their classrooms. The films feature insightful commentary from Supreme Court justices and legal scholars, interviews with the plaintiffs and attorneys in landmark Supreme Court cases as well as historical footage.

Video

Magna Carta and the Constitution

This video tells the story of the origins of the Magna Carta and explores the two most important principles that it symbolizes: rule of law and due process. Students will learn how the framers interpreted and redefined the rule of law and due process when they created our Constitution. And they will understand how those rights have been expanded and protected by the U.S. Supreme Court through two landmark Supreme Court cases: U.S. v. Nixon and Powell v. Alabama.

Handout

Key Constitutional Concepts: Creating a Constitution

The first section of the film “Key Constitutional Concepts” examines the creation of the U.S. Constitution and why it was needed. Before viewing the film, students are asked to respond to a key question, which will set a conversation in motion for the whole lesson.