The structure and functional logic of the Constitution of the United States of America
In 1787 the delegates of the first twelve states, with only Rhode Island as the thirteenth state of the former British colonies that would later form the United States of America not participating, had gathered in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of the ConJederation. As it turned out, what came to known as the Philadelphia Convention, decided to develop and propose a new constitution without actually being told to do so. This process finally led to the Constitution of the United States of America, which was then adopted and signed by 39 of the 55 convention's participants on September 17th the same year.
The document in its original form contains the preamble along with seven articles, each separated into several sections. While the preamble holds a statement about the purpose of this constitution, the articles one to three deal with the form of government.
The so−called ” Jathers of the Constitution” chose to form a bicameral legislatur e, the Congress, with House and Senate, the first representing the people, the later representing the individual states. This power also provides for impeachment and removal of civil officers who are part of the rather strong executive branch, with a powerful presidential figure at the top, in the event of committing a crime. The constitution leaves the judiciary’s power in a more vague state, missing an explicit legal provision for a constitutional jurisdiction.
Moving on to article four, which defines the states’ powers and limits, you find the regulation of the federal structure of the United States of America, which in detail tells how the relationship among the states themselves as well as that between them and the federal government is supposed to work.
Next, articles five describes the process of amendments, which can take place in two different ways; in order not to exceed the volume of this essay, details will be omitted.
Still it is important to say that such amendments are not built into the old text, the way it is usually done in other countries, e.g. in Germany, but in tradition of the English Bill of rights annexed at the end.
The last two articles deal with the Jederal power and finally the ratiJication; in lieu thereof they hold the regulations that establish the Constitution as supreme law in the U.S. and also for the Constitution’s successful implementation.
The functional logic of the Constitution of the United States of America refers to the historical experience of the American Revolution, to be exact, the reasons for it along with the American Republicanism and its strong emphasis on liberty and (civil−)rights. The main concern was to form a governmental system that would leave vast domains to the individual states, see article four, and also prevent tyranny, but at the same time would be able to defend the ConJederation against external threats in an effective way. Also, being one of the oldest constitutions still in effect, the Constitution of the United States of America applied at the time of its creation innovative ideas that came to place with the intentions mentioned above, such as the principles of John locke and Montesquieu.
As a result you find the ” checks and balances”. Thus, the three powers of the political system, already mentioned at the first passage with the articles one to three, are being held separate while each part controls the other one; still in the presidential system of the U.S. the president holds significant power over e.g. the military.
Another essential thought of the Philadelphia Convention concerned what from their point of view was the future. The delegates were aware that the Constitution had not reached its final or even perfect completion and would need amendments, a point they also made with article five.
Other concerns, like the trade among the states or economical difficulties were also taken into account while forming the Constitution.
So, finally overlooking all the achievements made, still, from a federalist point of view, the Constitution was rather poorly supporting the central government, but as history has shown over the now more than 200 years, the Jederal power has successfully surpassed constitutional limitations and that, last but not least, proved to be advantageous for the United States of America.
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- Universität der Bundeswehr München, Neubiberg – Institut für Politikwissenschaften
- Constitution United States America Einführung Theorien Internationalen Beziehungen