The US Constitution
in US politics today (fourth edition)
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Chapter 1 considers the background to the writing of the US Constitution in 1787 and the compromises that had to be made. It surveys the Constitution’s defining principles. These include separated institutions sharing powers, checks and balances, and federalism, but also counter-majoritarianism and constraints upon popular sovereignty. The chapter then looks at the Constitution’s individual articles, the powers that are assigned to each branch of government, and the institutional structures that were established, such as the Electoral College. It also discusses the Bill of Rights (along with subsequent constitutional amendments), the nature of the rights that it established and the extent to which these were, or in many cases were not, extended to all citizens. The chapter concludes by outlining contemporary conservative and progressive critiques of the Constitution.

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