The Constitution is one of the most important documents of the United States. The Constitution is a set of rules or laws the people and government of the United States must follow. It was written in 1787 and replaced the Articles of Confederation, which was the constitution for the 13 original colonies. The three main parts to the Constitution include the preamble, amendments, and the Bill of Rights.
The preamble to the constitution is not part of the law or the rules of the United States. The preamble tells the reasons for the Constitution. It ensures that the government will be just. The government will protect the citizens from problems within the country and attacks from outside the country. It will be a benefit to the people, not a disadvantage to the people. It will be used for many future generations of citizens in America.
The articles, amendments, and Bill of Rights make up the rules or laws telling the people and government what it can and cannot do. The U.S. Constitution contains seven articles and 27 amendments. The original seven articles took effect in 1789, but the 27 amendments, or changes, were added between 1791 and 1992.
The first seven amendments basically explain how the U.S. government is organized. There is a House of Representatives and a Senate; the presidency; the court system and the Supreme Court; and it also says that each state must allow other states to have their own laws. It also tells how the Constitution can be changed, and tells its citizens that the law of the land is the Constitution.
The first ten amendments are called The Bill of Rights and were added a couple years later in 1791 when some people thought the government may have had too much power. A few of the rights listed for citizens include the right to practice their religion, make speeches, write and distribute news, and meet with others in public or private. It also gives people the right to own a gun, and police are not permitted to search people or their homes without a reason, and must have permission from the court. Also, if someone is accused of committing a crime they must have a lawyer at trial, and do not have to speak when questioned. If they are found not guilty of a crime, they cannot go to court again for the same crime. Rights are also included for those in prison; they cannot be treated cruelly. And just because something may not be listed in the Constitution, that does not mean a person does not have a right. For example, there are no amendments prohibiting driving or allowing driving, but people do have a right to drive if they are permitted by law.
Some of the remaining 17 amendments are related to the method of electing a President, including limiting a President to two terms, making slavery illegal, and giving all citizens over 18 the right to vote, including women, without charging them a tax. They also give the permission to the Federal government to collect an income tax. Finally, selling and using alcohol used to be not permitted, but another amendment changed the law.
These are just a summary of the amendments referred to by many people, whether in the news, by citizens, or discussed by politicians. There are several other laws and rules which are related to how the senate and congress are elected, and the Supreme Court judges are appointed, and more.
There are many other countries in the world who do not give their citizens the same rights a person receives in America. Sometimes the Constitution is described as a 'living document' because it was not only written for the people in 1787, but also for future generations.
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