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C O U R S E 
Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases
Professor Kermit Roosevelt, III, University of Pennsylvania
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Creating the Constitution
Notes taken on October 6, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
the Revolution succeeded by the Articles of Confederation failed
there is a tension between these first two lessons of American history
the delegates represent states with many different views
the Revolution teaches that a general government can become tyrannical and the states can stand up to defend the liberty of their citizens
the failure of the Articles of Confederation teaches that states can't be relied on to cooperate effectively, so some higher institution has to keep them in line
the Constitution accommodates these competing ideas in a novel way, called Federalism
the federal government will handle some things, and in the areas where it has power, its power is supreme international relations, commerce between the states
the states will handle other areas and in those areas they will be supreme
what does the Constitution do?
Article I: creates the Federal government
Section I creates Congress
6-year terms
elected by legislatures (changed by 17th Amendment)
represent states
each state 2 senators
House of Representatives
2-year terms
elected by voters
represent citizens
determined by free persons and Indians not taxed, and 3/5 of all other persons
the 3/5 is a compromise over slavery
the Framers were embarrassed over slavery, and the Constitution never uses the word "slave"
slave states said they want representation based on their population including their slaves
the non-slave states were of the opinion that the slave states didn't represent their slaves and so weren't allowed to have extra voices in the federal government based on people that they held in bondage and denied their rights
both sides care about this because they see that the federal government might have the power to protect or to end slavery
it can pass laws on certain topics
the main point was the Federal power was limited
who in the federal government will enforce the laws?
no one did under the Articles of Confederation
Article II: creates the Executive branch
elected through a complicated process that soon gets changed
three-fifths law was working here
of the first five presidents, four were from the slave state of Virginia
Thomas Jefferson would have lost in 1800 if not for the three-fifths compromise
should enforce the laws that congress makes
be commander in chief of armed forces for the wars that congress declares
he can appoint some people
can make treaties that require congressional approval
over time we will see power shift from congress to president
Article III creates the Supreme court
power to hear certain kind of cases
where there is a federal interest at stake
where a state court can not be trusted
there are four more articles to the Constitution but they are relatively brief
Article IV
interstate relations
Fugitive Slave Clause
before constitution, if a slave escaped to a free state, that state could decide if he were to become free
but this law stated that slaves remain slaves no matter where they go and must be returned to their owners
Article V
the Constitution recognizes that its not perfect
however, it is difficult to amend the constitution
two-thirds of House and Senate
three-fourths of states
in America we have no official religion, but we have something similar, a civic religion, which is based on the Constitution
some people think the Constitution its infallible, but its not
there were some ethically terrible provisions in the original Constitution, such as Fugitive Slave Clause
almost all of the rights that we have today were not in the original Constitution
they come from the amendments
Article VI
Federal law is supreme to state law in the areas where it has the power to act
Article VII
violates the Articles of Confederation
the Constitution shall be effective upon the ratification of just nine states