Sunday, December 15, 2013
• Constitutions set the rules for the political system.
• British do not have a constitution, only exists as a mixture of laws passed by parliament
and custom and precedent- how to solve issues that come up is set on historical solving.
• Our constitution is comparatively short compared to India’s constitution. It has brevity and
is relatively short
• We have only had two Constitutions that have held us through the past several hundred
years. We have stability.
• Since 1787 France has had:
○ Three monarchies
○ Two “empires”
○ Five Republics
• Some of the European countries that did not exist when the Constitution was adopted: Italy,
• The point is that the constitution is very old and very successful
GOALS OF THE WRITERS OF THE CONSTITUTION after failed Art. of Confederation
1. A more powerful national government to capable of dealing with international and domestic
challenges. - fear from unrest (shay’s rebellion)= wanting a stronger nat’l gov’t.
2.Something that could get adopted. The writers had to deal with political realities- the nation
started out with separate colonies so it was difficult to hold power over all affairs. Hard to work
as one political unit after the colonies were themselves their own political units. Have to
compromise (composition of representation in congress itself was a conflict) in order for the
colonies to adopt the new constitution.
3. A constitution that would not create tyranny. Had to provide reassurance (the Federalist
papers by john jay, madison, and john adams) written to say to people to adopt the constitution.
“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” “Ambition to counteract ambition” is basically
the system of checks and balances
• Checks and balances is achieved by the “sharing of powers”
• Iran-Contra was a constitutional issue because Congress prohibited money given to contras