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American Government Chapter 4 “The United States Constitution”
Essential Question: “How and why did framers distribute power in the Constitution?”
Reading Notes
Read Sections 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4. Complete each section below as you do in your notes.
3.1 “Basic Principles” (handout and text pages 47-50)
1. Create the following table in your notebook. Complete the first three columns by listing
each guiding principle, creating a simple illustration to represent it, briefly explain it in
your own words, then in the fourth column of your table give your example as well as the
exact location in the Constitution of your example.
Guiding Principles of the Constitution
Popular Sovereignty
Rule of Law
Separation of
Powers/Checks and
Individual Rights
Symbol or Simple
Brief Explanation
Example from the
Power resides with
A1S2C1: Members of
the people, people
the House are chosen
elect their leaders
by the people
Gov’t is guided by
A6S2: The
laws rather than by a Constitution is the
person or group
Supreme Law of Land
Power is divided
A1S7C2: Congress
among 3 branches,
must present every
each branch house
proposed law to the
powers that check
president before it
becomes a law
Power is divided
A5: Congress can
between the central
gov’t and individual
amendments to the
state and local gov’ts Constitution which
states must ratify
The judicial branch is A3S1: Judges hold
separate to prevent
office for a life term
abuses of power and & pay cannot be
influence by the
lowered while in
other 2 branches
Civil liberties and basic
1st Amendment
rights are guaranteed
2. Create a copy the chart below in your notebook. Use it to evaluate how the federal
government serves the purposes set forth in the preamble of the constitution.
Establish Justice
Insure Domestic Tranquility
Provide for the Common Defense
Promote the General Welfare
Constitution, Laws
National Laws, Trade Laws
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines
Social Security, Welfare, Health Care
3. Explain why each branch of government has a different set of responsibilities and
powers. List at least two powers of each branch.
 So no single branch of government can become too powerful
o Legislative Branch: make laws, approve treaties
o Executive Branch: enforce laws, negotiate treaties
o Judicial Branch: interprets laws, judges laws and executive actions constitutional
4. Complete Daily Quiz 3.1 worksheet
3.2 “Amending the Constitution” (text pages 51-55)
1. Create a simple flowchart the illustrates in detail the methods by which an amendment
can be proposed and the ways they can be ratified.
Proposed by 2/3 vote in both houses of congress OR National Convention called for by
2/3 of the states
Ratified by 3/4 of state legislatures or special conventions from 3/4 of the states
2. Explain the purpose of the Bill of Rights.
It protects individual liberties and acknowledges the powers of the states and the
3. Copy the chart below in your notebook and use it to identify the rights guaranteed by the
Bill of Rights.
Rights Guaranteed by the Bill of Rights
4. Complete Daily Quiz 3.2 worksheet
3.3 “A Flexible Document” (text pages 56-59)
1. Copy the chart and use it to list examples of how the branches of government have
interpreted their constitutional powers.
2. Explain the importance of Marbury v. Madison
Gave themselves the power to determine if a law is constitutional or not: judicial review
3. Explain how customs and traditions affected how government functions. How does the
Constitutions wording allow the three branches of government to adapt to new
Shape how government is run and bring pressure to make formal changes. The
Constitution is vague in its wording at places and not specific about how powers are to
be carried out
4. Complete Daily Quiz 3.3
3.4 Constitution and the Public Good (text pages 60-62)
1. How can leaders use the system of checks and balances to try to avoid taking action?
Some responsibilities are shared so they can blame each other
2. Complete Daily Quiz 3.4