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A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is. When these principles are written down into a single document or set of legal documents, those documents may be said to embody a written constitution; if they are written down in a single comprehensive document, it is said to embody a codified constitution. Some constitutions (such as the constitution of the United Kingdom) are uncodified, but written in numerous fundamental Acts of a legislature, court cases or treaties.

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Here is a link to the Library of Congress' page with links to the documents that laid the foundation for the American government.

Contributed by Crystal Edmonds

Know your rights.

Contributed by Taylor Taglianetti

This Voter ID law relates very closely to the theory behind the Constitution and the basis of the Constitution. Essentially this is conflict between different factions with one faction representing the minorities and the poor while the other faction favors Republican ideals. The Framers of the Constitution based their ideas in the Constitution from the writings of John Locke who advocated for the curbing of the individual will of a person with a strong central government that also checks itself. Locke’s writings were further interpreted by James Madison in the Federalists Papers who examined the interests of factions and their impacts on policy and on the minorities. The example of the government checking the interests of the people and factions is exemplified in the debate of the Voter ID law. This new law is viewed as a Republican policy that when implemented would ultimately take the power from the Democratic faction by taking away votes. Since the democrats view this law as unconstitutional and actually stated “We feel this is a blow to democracy,” the faction is actually appealing the judge’s decision of defending the law. This is consistent with Locke’s theory that while the government can protect the people from each other, the government also needs to be checked to make sure it is acting in the interest of the people and that the people have the right to appeal the decisions of government. This is precisely what happened in that the law was declared valid by the judge but the “people”, specifically the faction of the civil rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union, did not agree and will now appeal to a higher court, an example of the checks and balances in government. Madison was correct that different factions that compete against each other would balance each other out since the Republican and Democratic faction are still fighting over this law. The conflict of the Voter ID law also shows the ideas of judicial review, enumerated versus reserved powers, and separation of powers. The whole debate about the law and the reason it reached Judge Simpson was that the constitutionality of the law was questioned. The stand of the coalition of the minority and civil rights factions was that denying some citizens the right to vote was violating the rights of those citizens and as a result, the law is unconstitutional. The law was taken to court for judicial review by the judges who interpret the Constitution and determine if the law was in fact unconstitutional. As for the enumerated powers of the federal government and the reserved powers of the state governments, the article also mentions that many other states are having the same hearings about the infringement of voting rights. While the issue is in certain states, each state will ultimately decide if these kinds of voting requirements are constitutional or not. The federal government will not intervene until there is an appeal to the Supreme Court. The separation of powers between the judicial and legislative branch is evident in this situation. The law that was passed was with the use of legislative power. However, since the passage of the law was not favorable to the coalition behind the minorities and civil right advocators, bringing the law to the court system allows the opportunity for the judicial branch to check the legislative branch.

Contributed by Jen Lee

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