How does the American Constitution work?

The best way to get the answer to that question is to actually read it. It is not very long. Depending on type style and page size it is usually between three and twelve pages when printed. Any English language encyclopedia will have the complete text. You can also easily find it on line.

I can put it in a nutshell though, as we Americans say. The legislature is the congress. It has two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each state gets two senators but the number of Representatives is determined by population. All laws are made by the congress. In order to become a law a bill has to be approved by both houses and then signed by the president. If he does not sign it then it doesn't become law unless two thirds of both houses vote to override him. The senate must approve all treaties, all judges nominated by the president, and many fedearal officers. Once appointed though, judges serve for life and federal officers serve at the pleasure of the president. The congress can pass laws only exercising those powers given it by the constitution. All other powers are reserved to the states.

The president is the chief executive and is charged with enforcing the laws. The heads of all the government departments report to him. He is responsible for managing the government and spending the money that congress appropriates. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces but is a civilian. He can, with the advice and consent of the Senate, negotiate treaties and appoint justices of the Supreme Court and judges of lower courts and government officials.

The constitution requires that there be a Supreme Court and leaves it to congress to create lower courts. It specifies what kind of cases the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over and which ones have to be appealed to it from lower courts.

The real genius of the system is what are called checks and balances. Each branch of the government has certain limited powers which are checked and balanced by the other branches. This prevents any one branch from becoming all powerful. There are also checks and balances between the federal government and the states. So long as the power of the government is limited then it can not take away people's fundamental rights. What our founders tried, and succeeded in doing was creating a government which was powerful enough to deal with the problems of a country as large as this one but sufficiently limited that it could not threaten liberty.

Please feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

Michael Montagne

The Constitution does not work at all. The reasons are four: an apathetic Public, a sniveling Congress,an audacious Judiciary, and a socialist-promoting Press.

Public apathy results from the complexity of issues, the low caliber of candidates, and the mis-direction of the Press. The school, system plays a part in keeping the public un-educated with respect to The Constitution and American History (and everything else for that matter -try reading, vocabulary and grammar). The public is too busy with sport and entertainment to find time for mind-expanding reading.

The sniveling Congress results from the lure of retirement benefits beyond one's wildest imagination! And the lure of staff to do the real work. And from disclosure laws deliberately designed to keep well-educated, economically successful people from running for public office. Whose business is the source of their wealth anyway? What we get for our trouble is a bunch of posturing clowns who can't find their buttox with both hands. It takes a staff of major proportions to create any semblance of intelligence in most of them.

The audacious Judiciary is the result of our industry of law mills which grind out great numbers of superflous lawyers which are entirely fungible--one is just like the other except for the niggardly minority that are principled. These marauders of The Law are taught that The Law is really their own "expert" personal opinion aggrandized by the citation of some maxim chosen or created for the occasion. Your rights are never safe when there's a lawyer in the picture.

The role of the Press is common knowledge. If there is an anti-American cause to which it can repair, that's where you will find it. I refer, of course, to the so-called "major media" --the press that claims it is mainstream, that claims the rest of us are hopeless boobs in the backwaters of American lunacy. Actually, the vast majority of Americans are out of the "mainstream" as defined by the Fourth Estate. Which makes one wonder just what the "mainstream" can be. Well, actually, it is mainstreaming on socialism, the elites' "ism" of choice --although, like most drugs, they have other names for it.

Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried. One has to be stupid or insane to keep on promoting failure. Or arrogant! Or ounting on an apathetic public.