The US Constitution Essay Research Paper The

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The U.S. Constitution Essay, Research Paper The U.S. Constitution Article Five, clause two of the United States Constitution states, “under the Authority of the United States, [the Constitution] shall be the supreme law of the land.” As a result of the fact that the current activist government is pursuing inconsistent policies, many believe the Constitution has become irrelevant because no guiding principles seem to exist. Thomas Jefferson once said, “TheConstitution belongs to the living and not to the dead.” Accordingly, it is often referred to as a “living” document because of its regular alteration and reexamination; therefore, the Constitution has not become irrelevant in defining the goals of American government. This will be shown by examining how the

Constitution ensures and upholds American ideas of rights, defines governmental structures, allows for an increase in governmental growth, and permits the Supreme Court to shape and define public policy through Constitutionalinterpretation. Through years of research on court cases, political scientists are in agreement that most people favor rights in theory, but their support diminishes when the time to put the rights into practice arrives. For example, a strong percentage of Americans concur with the idea of free speech throughout the United States, but when a court case such as Texas vs. Johnson (1989) arises, most backing shifts away from complete freedom of speech. In the case, a Texan named Gregory Johnson set fire to an American flag during the 1984 RepublicanNational

Convention in Dallas in order to protest nuclear arms buildup; the decision was awarded to Johnson in the midst of stern opposition (Beth 68). Lockean philosophy concerning the natural rights of man also serves amajor role in an American’s idea of rights. Many citizens feels that it is the task of the state to preserve such birthrights as life, liberty, and property. The juristic theory of rights deals with the hypothesis that a man’s natural rights only amounted to the quantity of power he can exercise over any other man. A more general and logical definition of a right is a claim upheld by the law, in which case the Bill of Rights becomes important (Benn 195). Although the Constitution originally did not contain the Bill of Rights, the states threatened to delay

ratification until the amendments were made. The main purpose of implementing the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, was to safeguard fundamental individual rights against seizure by the federal government and prohibit interference with existing rights. TheRevolutionary War with Britain was still quite clear in the American mind during the writing of the Constitution, so the Bill of Rights had full support of the public because it protected citizens against everything which had angered the colonists about the British (Holder 52). The Constitution is extremely ambiguous concerning individual rights and personal freedoms of man. It does, however, prohibit the passage of ex post facto laws, which punish people for an act they committed before such an act was

illegal, disallow bills of attainder, which punish offenders without a trial, and prevent suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, which requires a detained man to be notified of the offense he committed (Gilbert 331). The Constitution also prohibits religious qualifications for seeking and holding a governmental office, and it secures the right of a trial by jury of peers in a criminal case (Gilbert 336). Articles One, Two, and Three of the United States Constitution define the three structures of the national government, and include each branch’s composition and function. Article One deals with the Congress, the legislative structure of the federal government. It is the Congress, rather than the President, who is bestowed by the Constitution with the lawmaking duty. The