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Category: Politics

The Forgotten Founder Part 1: The Boston Massacre

Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton. These are the names we think of when we think of our founding fathers. But there was another man there, at every critical juncture of the early republic. His thinking was ahead of its time. Without him, the Declaration of Independence would not look like it did. The judicial branch, indirectly, would not have the power it does today without him. Foreign relations for the young country could have easily gone […]

First Amendment Series: Freedom of Speech

What is free speech? That’s a question that has been debated since the First Amendment was adopted in 1791. Restrictions have come and gone, largely shaped by the Supreme court. Today, we will explore how this freedom has changed over time and what free speech looks like today. In the latter part of colonial times, speech was not as deeply censored as it was in the England proper. This set the table for political dissent, […]

First Amendment Series: Freedom of the Press

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees five distinct freedoms: freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition. The guarantee of these freedoms, in writing and respected by the government, were groundbreaking at the time. Today is just the first in a series explaining each one of these freedoms, how they came to be, how they have changed over time, and what they mean. Freedom of […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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