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Author: Blake Kraus

Blake has written for numerous websites and publications, with a strong focus on non-profits and industry trade groups.  He really enjoys cooking as well and graduated from GWU School of Media and Public Affairs.

Bill of Rights: Ensuring Unstated Freedoms

The Constitution did not just become the law of the land once it was written. Nine of the 13 states needed to ratify it. This was no easy process and a divide emerged. There were the Federalists, who supported the Constitution as it was, and the Anti-Federalists, who had many concerns. The Federalists defended all the protections built into the Constitution, most famously in a series of anonymous articles written in New York, an Anti-Federalist […]

Tales of Our Country: Aaron Burr, King of Mexico?

We’ve talked about Alexander Hamilton and we talked about the duel. It’s only fair that we talk about the man on the other end of the duel, Aaron Burr. When we left him last, he had just fled after shooting and killing Hamilton. This would lead to one of the strangest stories in American history, the former vice president who tried to become the king of Mexico. A little bit of background first. Burr was […]

Declaring War: How the Process Changed over the Years

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was an act of Congress in 1964 that effectively gave the president carte blanche in using force for the Vietnam War. But Congress never actually declared war against Vietnam. So was this constitutional? How did this shape the president’s authority to use military force going forward? Let’s start from the beginning. The Constitution declares the president the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces but gives Congress the power to declare war. […]

Impeachment: How the Constitution Protects us from Corruption

The Constitution provides a mechanism to remove a bad actor, namely a federal judge or the president. This process is called impeachment and it has been topical as of late as it occurred earlier this year when President Trump was impeached. Being impeached does not mean that a person is removed from office. The term impeachment only means being charged with a “high crime or misdemeanor.” In fact, never in the history of the United […]

Tales of Our Country: The Duel

It’s July 11, 1804. The sun has just risen over the Hudson River that divides New York and New Jersey. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr are on separate boats crossing to New Jersey, prepared to meet on a rock near Weehawken. They are ready to duel, defending their honor after their long-time rivalry. It all started in 1791, when Burr defeated Phillip Schulyer, Hamilton’s father-in-law. Schulyer would have been a supporter of Hamilton’s federalist ideas, […]

Tales of our Country: Who was Alexander Hamilton?

You may have heard his name sung over and over (and over again). That’s because his life and story made for an unlikely musical hit in 2015. But even after all the singing, you may not know who Alexander Hamilton was, what he did, and how he shaped our country. Alexander Hamilton was born on the island of Nevis in either 1755 or 1757 as accounts vary. Hamilton had a tumultuous childhood having been born […]

Separation of Powers Part 2: Checks and Balances

In Part 1, we discussed what the three branches of government are and the role they play in the federal government. Today, we will talk about how the constitution ensures that each of branch checks the power of the other, creating a balance of power. Creatively, this concept is known as checks and balances. Because checks and balances work in multiple directions, it is better to discuss how they work in terms of constitutional powers […]

Separation of Powers Part 1: The Branches of Government

The President is negotiating with Congress on legislation and appointments. Congress is approving nominations and worrying about presidential vetoes. The courts are ruling on the laws passed by Congress and signed by the president. The three branches of government have very distinct roles as set by the founders in the Constitution and interact with each other in specific ways through a system of checks and balances. In this article, we will discuss what the three […]

I’m Just a Bill…It has a Long Journey to Become a Law

When you were in school, you may have learned how a bill becomes a law, possibly with the aid of a catchy song. You were probably taught that a bill needs to be passed by both chambers of Congress. Then, the president can either veto it or sign it into law. And that was it. But the real process is much more complicated than that. Let’s start with the basics. It is true that a […]

Understanding The Electoral College (Part 2)

In Part 1, we explored what the Electoral College is, how it works and why it was created. With that in mind, it is important to understand how it has changed over time and why some question if it still has a place in today’s presidential elections. The Electoral College has changed dramatically from the founder’s conception to modern practice. Originally, the Constitution made no distinction between voting for president and vice president. Each elector […]

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