Peterson , U. Montesquieu emphasized the need for balanced forces pushing against each other to prevent tyranny reflecting the influence of Polybius 's 2nd century BC treatise on the checks and balances of the Roman Republic. In his The Spirit of the Laws , Montesquieu argues that the separation of state powers should be by its service to the people's liberty: A substantial body of thought had been developed from the literature of republicanism in the United States , including work by John Adams and applied to the creation of state constitutions.
The constitution was a federal one, and was influenced by the study of other federations, both ancient and extant. The United States Bill of Rights consists of 10 amendments added to the Constitution in , as supporters of the Constitution had promised critics during the debates of Both require jury trials , contain a right to keep and bear arms , prohibit excessive bail and forbid "cruel and unusual punishments".
Many liberties protected by state constitutions and the Virginia Declaration of Rights were incorporated into the Bill of Rights. Original frame Neither the Convention which drafted the Constitution, nor the Congress which sent it to the thirteen states for ratification in the autumn of , gave it a lead caption. To fill this void, the document was most often titled "A frame of Government" when it was printed for the convenience of ratifying conventions and the information of the public.
Preamble "We the People" in an original edition The preamble to the Constitution serves as an introductory statement of the document's fundamental purposes and guiding principles. It neither assigns powers to the federal government,  nor does it place specific limitations on government action.
Rather, it sets out the origin, scope and purpose of the Constitution. Its origin and authority is in "We, the people of the United States". This echoes the Declaration of Independence. The scope of the Constitution is twofold. First, "to form a more perfect Union" than had previously existed in the "perpetual Union" of the Articles of Confederation. Second, to "secure the blessings of liberty", which were to be enjoyed by not only the first generation, but for all who came after, "our posterity".
Section 1, reads, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. Representatives must be at least 25 years old, be a citizen of the United States for seven years, and live in the state they represent. Senators must be at least 30 years old, be a citizen for nine years, and live in the state they represent. Article I, Section 8 enumerates the powers delegated to the legislature.
Financially, Congress has the power to tax, borrow, pay debt and provide for the common defense and the general welfare; to regulate commerce, bankruptcies, and coin money. To regulate internal affairs, it has the power to regulate and govern military forces and militias, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.
It is to provide for naturalization, standards of weights and measures, post offices and roads, and patents; to directly govern the federal district and cessions of land by the states for forts and arsenals. Internationally, Congress has the power to define and punish piracies and offenses against the Law of Nations, to declare war and make rules of war.
The final Necessary and Proper Clause , also known as the Elastic Clause, expressly confers incidental powers upon Congress without the Articles' requirement for express delegation for each and every power.
Article I, Section 9 lists eight specific limits on congressional power. The Supreme Court has sometimes broadly interpreted the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause in Article One to allow Congress to enact legislation that is neither expressly allowed by the enumerated powers nor expressly denied in the limitations on Congress. Maryland , the Supreme Court read the Necessary and Proper Clause to permit the federal government to take action that would "enable [it] to perform the high duties assigned to it [by the Constitution] in the manner most beneficial to the people",  even if that action is not itself within the enumerated powers.
Chief Justice Marshall clarified: The President is head of the executive branch of the federal government , as well as the nation's head of state and head of government. Article Two describes the office, qualifications and duties of the President of the United States and the Vice President. It is modified by the 12th Amendment which tacitly acknowledges political parties, and the 25th Amendment relating to office succession. The president is to receive only one compensation from the federal government.
The inaugural oath is specified to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. He or she makes treaties with the advice and consent of a two-thirds quorum of the Senate. To administer the federal government, the president commissions all the offices of the federal government as Congress directs; he or she may require the opinions of its principal officers and make " recess appointments " for vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate.
The president is to see that the laws are faithfully executed, though he or she may grant reprieves and pardons except regarding Congressional impeachment of himself or other federal officers. The president reports to Congress on the State of the Union , and by the Recommendation Clause , recommends "necessary and expedient" national measures.
The president may convene and adjourn Congress under special circumstances. Section 4 provides for removal of the president and other federal officers. The president is removed on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Article Three Article Three describes the court system the judicial branch , including the Supreme Court. There shall be one court called the Supreme Court. The article describes the kinds of cases the court takes as original jurisdiction. Congress can create lower courts and an appeals process.
Congress enacts law defining crimes and providing for punishment. Article Three also protects the right to trial by jury in all criminal cases , and defines the crime of treason. Section 1 vests the judicial power of the United States in federal courts, and with it, the authority to interpret and apply the law to a particular case. Also included is the power to punish, sentence, and direct future action to resolve conflicts. The Constitution outlines the U. In the Judiciary Act of , Congress began to fill in details.
Currently, Title 28 of the U. Code  describes judicial powers and administration. As of the First Congress, the Supreme Court justices rode circuit to sit as panels to hear appeals from the district courts. District courts would have original jurisdiction.
Intermediate appellate courts circuit courts with exclusive jurisdiction heard regional appeals before consideration by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court holds discretionary jurisdiction , meaning that it does not have to hear every case that is brought to it.
The court's summary punishment for contempt immediately overrides all other punishments applicable to the subject party. Other implied powers include injunctive relief and the habeas corpus remedy.
The Court may imprison for contumacy , bad-faith litigation, and failure to obey a writ of mandamus. Judicial power includes that granted by Acts of Congress for rules of law and punishment. Judicial power also extends to areas not covered by statute. Generally, federal courts cannot interrupt state court proceedings. Their judicial power does not extend to cases which are hypothetical, or which are proscribed due to standing , mootness , or ripeness issues.
Generally, a case or controversy requires the presence of adverse parties who have some interest genuinely at stake in the case. Also required is of broad enough concern in the Court's jurisdiction that a lower court, either federal or state, does not geographically cover all the existing cases before law.
Courts following these guidelines exercise judicial restraint. Those making an exception are said to be judicial activist. Cases arising under the laws of the United States and its treaties come under the jurisdiction of federal courts. Cases under international maritime law and conflicting land grants of different states come under federal courts. The trials will be in the state where the crime was committed.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Precedent has since established that the courts could exercise judicial review over the actions of Congress or the executive branch. Two conflicting federal laws are under "pendent" jurisdiction if one presents a strict constitutional issue.
Federal court jurisdiction is rare when a state legislature enacts something as under federal jurisdiction.