America is unique. To protect Individual Freedoms & Liberties, the U.S. Constitution limits the powers of the government body.
"Men of factious tempers... prejudices...sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption...first obtain the [votes] then betray the...people." #10
A transparent government system is necessary for citizens to keep check on rules, regulations and laws which might infringe on their Rights, Liberties and Freedoms as outlined in the Constitution.
The 9th Amendment states: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The 10th Amendment states: 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.
The media - Investigative journalists are essential to bring forth unbiased information to the public to highlight transparency of government actions and policies, and to expose misdeeds by their representatives.
civil rights U.S. Constitution 101
The People’s United States government is referred to in several ways:
* Central government
* National government
* Federal government.
The U.S. Constitution
states the powers granted and
the powers prohibited to
each branch of U.S. government.
10th 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.
The Supreme Law of the Land is:
1. The Constitution of
the United States
2. All laws made in
3. All Treaties made, or
which shall be made,
of the United States
4. All judges in every
State shall be bound
anything in the
constitution or laws
of any State to
Each department, or branch is equal to the other and they act as a “check” on the other branch's powers and have rules to keep their own branch in check and balanced.
“Checks and balances”
ensure that no one branch of government
or all three- combine power
and become tyrannical
with the immense powers
the People entrust in their care.
Refers to the system of dual powers - the State's & the Federal Union's.
Each State has their own Constitution which addresses their state's interests, policies, procedures and laws. There are shared and separate powers belonging to each state and to the federal government, and these powers are explicit and implicit in the U.S. Constitution.
No longer Subjects of a King, the United States formed a Constitutional Republic style government system.
Created by the People for the People.
Recognized names for the American Government System include:
* Constitution-based federal Republic
* Representative Democracy
In America, the People have personal freedoms & liberties, which neither the State or Federal government can encroach upon.
The Constitution limits the powers of government, and binds the People of each State together in this Republic system
The United States has a representative system of self-governance - Through the democratic process whereby citizens choose fellow citizens from their communities and states to represent them in their government bodies - to make laws; set policies to protect their
freedoms, liberties and general welfare.
U.S. Constitution Article VI: The Senators and Representatives . . . and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States,
shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;
but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
9th Amendment The enumeration of the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People.
In order to control their government and protect their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, each citizen must be actively involved through
direct participation as a leader/member, and/or in the voting process for their local, state and federal governments.
- A Citizen's responsibility is to learn the pros and cons of each representative, and vote into office a person qualified
to serve on their behalf.
Over the centuries, the Federal & State government's powers have grown. The fear of the government becoming oppressive rulers was well documented by the States (Colonies) and was a focus of many debates when deciding to join together as a Union, under U.S. Constitution.
It is up to an active, participating citizenship to keep Federal & State powers in check and stop a tyrannical government system from developing.
Federal Government Representatives include:
The U.S. Senate - Each state has two representatives
The U.S. House of Representatives – Each state has a number of representatives commensurate with their state’s population.
Currently, there are:
435 House of Representatives
(Pictured above is original flag with 13 stars representing the 13 colonies)
Today, the 50 white stars on a blue field represent the 50 states.
The colors on the flag represent:
Delicate cluster! flag of teeming life!
Covering all my lands - all my seashores lining!
Flag of death! (how I watch'd you through the smoke of battle pressing! How I heard you flap and rustle, cloth defiant!)
Ah my silvery beauty - ah my wooly white and crimson!
Ah to sing the song of you, my matron mighty!
My sacred one, my mother!
- Walt Whitman, 1871
"I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America,
to the republic
for which it stands,
justice for all."
In Support of Allegiance
to the Republic
U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4:
The United States
to every State in this Union
a Republican Form of Government,
shall protect each of them
and . . .
against domestic Violence.
Right to Life
Right to Liberty
Right to Pursuit of Happiness
Right to Equality under the law
The people had all their rights and liberties before they created the Constitution.
The Constitution was formed, among other purposes, to make the people's liberties secure - secure not only as against foreign attack but against oppression by their own government.
They set specific limits upon their national government and upon the States, and
reserved to themselves all powers
that they did not grant.
(source: U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission, established by a
Joint Resolution of the Congress of
the United States,
approved August 23, 1935).
A Citizen's Responsibilities:
Loyalty - to the United States and the words and spirit of the Constitution
Obey - the laws of the United States
Vote – Learn about your representatives and determine who will represent your interests best and the interests of America.
Jury Duty – Participate in the court system as a juror to decide facts in legal cases involving peers in your community.
"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable* Rights,
that among these are
Life, Liberty, and
the Pursuit of Happiness.
Governments are instituted
just Powers from
the Consent of the Governed,
that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends,
it is the
Right of the People to
alter or to abolish it, and
to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles . . .
We mutually Pledge to each other,
Our Lives, Our Fortunes and
Our Sacred Honor . . ."
July 4, 1776
* Unalienable - Permanent; cannot be removed
We, the people of the United States,
1. In order to form a more perfect union;
2. Establish justice;
3. Insure domestic tranquility;
4. Provide for the common defense;
5. Promote the general welfare; and,
6. Secure the blessing of liberty to
ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish
this Constitution for the
United States of America.
There are two standard terms to describe America's economic system:
Capitalism and Free-Market
This American economic system is
based on the market-system of
supply and demand
of goods and services.
Rather than the government controlling what to produce and who to produce it,
private citizens, as entrepreneurs* own businesses (as a method of financial support and creating wealth). Entrepreneurs use
the "free" market system to determine which products & services people want and need. Entrepreneurs try to meet the supply of those needs & wants and consumers are free to choose what to purchase (demand).
* An Entrepreneur is one who
& other risks
to undertake a private
Congress has two chambers (bodies) A bicameral system
(the prefix bi is derived from Latin and means two; Latin cameralis refers to chamber)
The Senate and the House of Representatives.
Both chambers are
required to make laws.
can enact a law.
Congress cannot delegate
to make laws
to an executive department or to an administrative officer, nor can any department or officer repeal, extend, or modify an act of Congress.
Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states: All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. Article I, Sections
1 – 10 include the following:
1. How Senate is composed
2. Eligibility Requirements for office
3. Tenure of office 4. By whom chosen
5. When chosen
6. How classed
9. Presiding officer
10. Senate Powers
The House of Representatives
4. Term of office
5. By whom chosen
9. House powers
The President often acts in the capacity of America's diplomatic representative.
The President is Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.
The Constitution states:
"he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed . . ."
Article II, Sections 1 & 2 of the U.S. Constitution states:
The executive Power shall be vested
in a President of the United States of America.
He shall hold his Office during the
Term of four Years, and, together
with the Vice President,
chosen for the same Term,
be elected, as follow:
Each State shall appoint, in such
Manner as the Legislature
thereof may direct,
equal to the whole Number of
Senators and Representatives
to which the State may be
entitled in the Congress . . .
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law . . .
Article II, Sections 1 – 4
include the following:
1. Term of office
2. By whom chosen
3. Voting & Electors
4. Oath of Office
6. Powers & Duties
Article III, Section 1 - 3 of the U.S. Constitution includes:
The judicial Power of the
United States, shall be vested
in one supreme Court, and
in such inferior Courts
as the Congress may from
time to time ordain and establish.
The Judges, both of the
supreme and inferior Courts,
shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall,
at stated Times,
receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their
Continuance in Office.
The Judicial Power shall
extend to all Cases,
in Law and Equity,
the Laws of
the United States,
Treaties made, or
which shall be made,
under their Authority . . .
Please see links to Judical, Legislative, Executive Branches, and Constitution for further information.
The Constitution guarantees them.
The people had all their rights and liberties before they made the Constitution.
The Constitution was formed, among other purposes, to make the people's liberties secure
- secure not only as against foreign attack but against oppression by their own government.
They set specific limits upon their national government and upon the States, and reserved to themselves all powers that they did not grant.
The Ninth Amendment declares:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
(source: U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission, establishd by a Joint Resolution of the Congress of the United States, approved August 23, 1935).
A Constitution embodies the fundamental principles of a government.
Our constitution, adopted by the sovereign power [the People], is amendable by that power only.
To the constitution all laws, executive actions, and judicial decisions must conform, as it is the creator of the powers exercised by the departments of government.
When Did The Constitution Take Effect?
The Constitution became binding upon nine States by the ratification of the ninth State, New Hampshire.
June 21, 1788 (Art. VII)
• After New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, the Confederation Congress established March 4, 1789, as the date to begin operating under the Constitution.
(source: U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission, August 23, 1935).
The Constitution would take effect once it had been ratified by nine of the thirteen state legislatures — unanimity was not required
Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New York.
After George Washington had been inaugurated on April 30, 1789, Rhode Island (5/29/90) and North Carolina (11/29/89) ratified.
An Anti-Federalist was against the ratification of the U.S. Constitution as written because they feared a Federal government with greater powers would encroach on an individual's and State's Liberties and Freedoms and become tyrannical.
A Federalist was a person who was for the new U.S. Constitution, and a stronger Federal government body.
Federalists James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote articles, or letters which were published in local newspapers in defense of the proposed Constitution.
These writing were called the Federalist Papers.
Eighty-five (85) articles outlined not only reasons for the necessity of a Federal Constitution, but also explained their thinking, planning and intentions of the rights and prohibitions found in the language of the U.S. Constitution.
Federalist Papers - Article No. 10, warns of the dangers of factions
No. 51, which explains the structure of the government structure of checks and balances, to protect the rights of the people.
Virginia v. Black - Supreme Court Opinions | Sandra Day O'Connor Institute Digital Library (oconnorlibrary.org)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
(Source: U.S. Constitution)
The First Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech."
The hallmark of the protection of free speech is to allow "free trade in ideas"-even ideas that the overwhelming majority of people might find distasteful or discomforting.
Abrams v. United States, 250 U. S. 616, 630 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting); see also Texas v. Johnson, 491 U. S. 397, 414 (1989).
("If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable").
Thus, the First Amendment "ordinarily" denies a State "the power to prohibit dissemination of social, economic and political doctrine which a vast majority of its citizens believes to be false and fraught with evil consequence." Whitney v. California, 274 U. S. 357, 374 (1927) (Brandeis, J., concurring) . . .
The First Amendment permits "restrictions upon the content of speech in a few limited areas, which are 'of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.'" R. A. V. v. City of St. Paul, supra, at 382-383 (quoting Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, at 572).
Thus, for example, a State may punish those words "which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, at 572; see also R. A. V. v. City of St. Paul, supra, at 383 (listing limited areas where the First Amendment permits restrictions on the content of speech). We have consequently held that fighting words-"those personally abusive epithets which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reaction" -are generally proscribable under the First Amendment. Cohen v. California, 403 U. S. 15, 20 (1971); see also Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, at 572.
Virginia v. Black - Supreme Court Opinions | Sandra Day O'Connor Institute Digital Library (oconnorlibrary.org)
Disclaimer: These resources are created by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for use in educational activities only. They may not reflect the current state of the law, and are not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on legislation.
The term “Social Contract” was used by many great philosophers who added to the debate about the best and most natural form of union in a society between man, his fellow man, and the government body.
In the fourth century B.C. great philosopher Plato put forth several central doctrines having to do with human values and human virtues, and Aristotle questioned the political status quo of oppressive government structures.
Over the centuries, many great philosophers like Thomas Hobbes, Bernard Mandeville, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote their arguments on the Social Contract - a moral and political theory.
Philosopher John Locke, also wrote his
Social Contract theories.
based the principles
of their new country on
Locke's theories of
such as, the
freedom & liberty
each individual as a birthright
by the Creator of all;
and government restraint in the lives of the people.
A starting point for human association as described in John Locke’s Social Contract theory is referenced in The Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence was the first announcement of the reasons for separation from the British Crown - and it expressed the spirit of the new association of the People.
The thirteen united States declared their desire to break their political bands with England and,
“. . . assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them . . .
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;
that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness . . ."
John Locke and the United States of America believe in a Creator as the beginning source of human life.
It is this Creator (not a religion) that has bestowed on each individual as a birthright liberties and obligations.
According to Locke, a person who is born into this world is considered to be born into a
State of Nature.
Locke defines State of Nature as, “Men living together according to reason without a common superior on earth, with authority to judge between them, are properly in the state of nature.”
Locke’s Laws of Nature, “…teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent… For the law of nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world, be in vain, if there were nobody that in the state of nature had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders.”
It is these words and spirit of the great philosopher John Locke’s An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government that embrace what became America’s ideals and principles for individual freedom and government restraint.
1500s Spain classified racial lineage
America was founded on the Judeo-Christian principles expressed in the Ten Commandments. The Biblical Abraham, has been widely accepted by Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions as the Father of all nations. Moses, as told by the Old Testament, brought the tablet of Commandments as stated by God, to all the People of the World to follow.
Throughout the ages, the Commandments IV-X (4-10) have been accepted universally as the "Golden" Rules, which are the basic behaviors expected in a civil society, and are the foundation of many laws in America and throughout the world.
"Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Self"
"In God We Trust" refers to trust in the Creator of life and the Universe. This saying does not refer to a particular religion or a government body which might claim to rule by divine right or any other right.
* * *
As referenced in the Declaration of Independence, a Creator gives everyone at birth equal and unalienable rights, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - Not any man or a government body.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence begins:
”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness . . ."
Latin for "Out of Many, One."
There are many religions practiced in the United States, and the First Amendment of the Constitution provides the People the guaranteed freedom to believe or not believe in a religion or God - without government interference. Also, no government body can establish a religion (or religious sect) which citizens must follow.
The First Amendment begins:
"Congress shall make no laws respecting an
Establishment of religion, or
Prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Or Abridging the Freedom of speech . . ."
Timeline of major taxation events leading colonists to form new self-government system