constitution form activity

In this section, state in your own words AND explain two topics from the assigned readings.


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Go to
(Links to an external site.)
or another site of your choice. Find and explain in your own words a Supreme Court decision relevant to one of the issues discussed in Activity I.


This section should include your views on the issues listed above.


In your own words, relate one of the issues listed above to a current issue in the press. This section should also contain a specific reference to an actual article or media broadcast including a date and title


M8: Lecture

Chapter 9: The Rights of the States and Amendments 11 & 12

Amendment IX. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


In the arguments between Federalists and Antifederalists about the necessity for a bill of rights, the Federalist supporters of the new Constitution initially argued that a bill of rights would be unnecessary because, as a government of enumerated powers, the national government would have no authority other than that which was specifically designated. Moreover, adoption of a bill of rights could even prove dangerous, some Federalists argued, if this list of rights came to be viewed as exclusive and someone were to find a right inadvertently excluded from the listing and conclude that the government therefore had a right to restrict it. Could a person be sentenced to prison for not tipping a hat to a government official simply because the right not to tip one’s hat was not listed in the Bill of Rights? This was a central problem the Ninth Amendment was designed to address.

Amendment X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


Like the Ninth Amendment, the Tenth Amendment is phrased in such general language that it can be taken to mean almost anything or almost nothing. Whereas the Ninth Amendment has been the favorite of contemporary liberals, historically the Tenth Amendment has been a favorite among conservatives. More than any other amendment in the Bill of Rights, the Tenth Amendment was designed to address the Antifederalists’ fears that the new national government would simply swallow the rights of the states. In protecting the states, this amendment further indicated that the national government would be a government of enumerated powers. As the last amendment in the Bill of Rights, it seems especially fitting that the Tenth Amendment, like the preamble to the Constitution, ends with a reference to “the people.”

Amendment XI. [1798] The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.


The Eleventh Amendment is probably one of the least known amendments in the entire Constitution. The fact that it was proposed by Congress in 1794 and ratified by the necessary number of states in 1798 suggests, however, that it can properly be understood, like the Bill of Rights, almost as a product of the Founding Period. The amendment is perhaps most important because it is the first to overturn a Supreme Court decision. The decision at issue, Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), had declared that a state could be sued by a citizen of another state, in this case a citizen claiming that he had never been paid for debts owed him from the Revolutionary War era. Some states were naturally sensitive about such suits, which might subject them to pay-ments they hoped to avoid. Moreover, such suits, however consistent they appeared to be with the language of Article III, contradicted assurances given by some Federalists at state ratifying conventions where they had indicated that states, as sovereign entities, could not be sued under the new Constitution without their consent (the doctrine of sovereign immunity). Despite adoption of the Eleventh Amendment, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in Osborn v. Bank of the United States (1824) that the amendment did not bar suits against state officials and in Cohens v. Virginia (1821) that it did not bar appeals to federal courts when states instituted suits.

Amendment XII. [1804] The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;—The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;—The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President, But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.—The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.


Like the Eleventh Amendment, the Twelfth was designed to remedy a problem that developed under the new Constitution. The cause of this problem was the development of political parties that were not anticipated, at least not in their modern form.


Chapter 11: The Post-Civil War Amendments—Amendments 13–15


Of all the changes made in the U.S. Constitution, few are as profound as those adopted at the end of the Civil War, the nation’s bloodiest conflict. While the causes of this war were complex, differences between the North and South and their varying views of the institution of slavery were certainly fundamental. Initially waged as a war primarily to preserve the Union, it became increasingly clear to Abraham Lincoln that a war that had resulted in such carnage would require a higher justification. Gradually, he came to see this goal as the emancipation and protection of the former slaves.

During the war itself, Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation; but, important as this declaration was, it was limited both in scope and legal foundation. Essentially a war measure taken under the president’s authority as commander-in-chief, the Emancipation Proclamation applied only behind enemy lines where the North’s ability to enforce it was necessarily initially limited. Moreover, as a presidential directive, the Proclamation lacked the constitutional permanency that one might hope for such an important innovation. It should not be surprising that many including Lincoln himself thought such guarantees should have wider reach and firmer constitutional foundations.

Between 1865 and 1870, three constitutional amendments were proposed and ratified, the result of intense political debate and acrid controversy. Each amendment had a different objective.

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