The constitution of the USA


Мировая экономика и международное право

The constitution of the USA – «oldest» of the hand-written constitutions existing now. It was developed by the convention sitting behind closed doors at Philadelphia from May 14 to September 17, 1787. Interests of the social groups presented in convention were reflected in it – slaveholders, the land aristocracy, an upper bourgeoisie, i.e.



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  1.  Acceptance and structure of the constitution………………………………4
  2.  Main lines of the constitution of the USA…………………………………...4
  3.  Change of the constitution …………………………………………6
  4.  Constitutional status of the personality……………………………………..7



Relevance of a subject. The constitution of the USA – «oldest» of the hand-written constitutions existing now. It was developed by the convention sitting behind closed doors at Philadelphia from May 14 to September 17, 1787. Interests of the social groups presented in convention were reflected in it slaveholders, the land aristocracy, an upper bourgeoisie, i.e. the segments of the population clearly understanding the purposes and problems of the constitutional system created by them. It is impossible to call structure of convention rather representative; from 74 delegates appointed in it only 55 participated in work, a row from them left convention before its closing, and only 39 put the signatures under the text of the Basic law.

Accepted on September 17, 1787. The constitution was transferred to the Continental congress which sent it on September 28 «to legislative assemblies of states they submitted it for consideration of the conventions consisting of the delegates elected in each staff by its people according to decisions of Convention».

The constitution was ratified by the conventions elected in each staff. The first, approved it on December 7, 1787, was the State of Delaware; New Gempshir became the ninth staff thanks to which ratification on June 21, 1788 this document came into force. At ratification in the majority of states there was a considerable opposition of the Constitution; only conventions in Delaware, New Jersey and Georgia accepted it unanimously. Other four states ratified the Constitution later; the State of Rhode Island (on May 29, 1790) was the last. Six states - Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Gempshir, Northern Carolina, Virginia and New York at ratification in this or that form demanded inclusion of the Bill in it about the rights.

The research objective consists in complex studying of the Constitution of the USA.

- to investigate an order of adoption of the Constitution and its structure;

- to study the main lines of the Constitution of the USA;

- to consider changes of the Constitution of the USA.

Object of research are the public relations the resulting actions of the Constitution of the USA.

Research methods:

  1.  method of the theoretical analysis: studying, analysis, synthesis and generalization of scientific and educational literature;
  2.  method of the analysis of special literature;
  3.  method of the system analysis.

  1.  Acceptance and structure of the constitution

The existing constitution of the USA was adopted in 1787 in Philadelphia by convention – some kind of constituent assembly consisting of representatives of states – the states which proclaimed themselves in 1776 during fight for independence the British colonies in North America. They created confederation of the USA. Its constitutional document – Articles of confederation – was accepted in 1777 and came into force in 1781. The Philadelphian convention «was called in sharp discontent of a people at large with domestic policy of confederation (there were even revolts). Reforming of confederation, this» ropes from sand, and, first of all strengthening of the government was a main goal of convention. However, the new state – federation of the USA was in practice founded. After ratification by the necessary majority of states in 1789 the constitution came into force.

The constitution of the USA includes three components:

1) a preamble which doesn't admit courts and the American doctrine for a component of the Basic law, and is considered only grindings of sight of a source from which it proceeds, and is more whole for the sake of which it is developed: statements of justice, ensuring internal tranquillity, organization of joint defense, assistance to the general welfare and providing to citizens of the USA of the benefits of freedom;

2) seven articles;

3) twenty seven amendments.

Thus, the major constitutional documents are also the Declaration of independence of 1776 and the amendment to the constitution which are designated by the Roman figures, They don't join in the text of the constitution remaining invariable, and are applied to it. 27 amendments, the last from them – in 1992 are so far adopted.

  1.  Main lines of the constitution of the USA

The constitution of the USA – the first hand-written constitution, the progressive document which had impact on constitutions of many countries of the world. It fixed the formation of a sovereign federal state which resulted osvo6oditelnoy from fight of the people against the British crown, proclaimed the principle of people's sovereignty, defined democratic principles of the organization of statehood (representative board, division of the authorities, etc.), established that the priority over the right of states has the federal right. Under the influence of this constitution in the world the doctrine of constitutionalism began to extend.

At the same time the constitution of 1787 had historically limited character connected with conditions of its time and the reactionary lines caused by interests of ruling circles, generally planters of slaveholders of the southern states and large businessmen of the North. According to representations of that time the constitution was limited to regulation of the relations of the government and the person (but mainly in the judicial sphere and within some personal rights of the individual), and also establishment of structure and relationship of the supreme bodies of the state. In the text of the constitution there were no articles about the political and social and economic rights of the personality. The political rights were included by the first ten amendments which received the name of the Bill about the rights, and regulations on many social, economic, cultural rights are absent in the text of the constitution and now. The constitution silently consolidated slavery of Blacks, allowing to vote for them to their owners – planters, deprived of electoral rights of women (the last restriction worked till 1919). In many respects (questions of direct democracy, the principles of democratic regime, etc.) the constitution was a probelna. Sometimes its formulations of a kazuistichna, have insufficiently generalizing character. According to the constitution of the USA are on the form of government the presidential republic, in a form of a territorial political system - rather centralized federation, the country with a democratic state regime.

The declaration of independence 177b proclaimed the right of the people for revolt against oppression, independence of the British crown, proceeding from the concept of the natural rights. The declaration, and then and the constitution affirmed some inalienable rights of the person – on life, freedom and aspiration fortunately. Many constitutional questions were settled by amendments to the constitution. Amendments to the basic have character of additions.

Thus, questions of a constitutional right are regulated also by constitutions and laws of separate states, laws of the congress and especially decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. The last the interpretation without change of the text of the constitution creates new constitutional norms because the act of 1787 was adopted in absolutely other situation and in some cases doesn't answer the modern public relations.

  1.  Change of the constitution

The constitution of the USA – the tough constitution. Amendments to it can be adopted 2/3 members of both chambers of the supreme legislative body - the congress – or the special convention called at the initiative of 2/3 states (cases of such convocation weren't). They are subject to ratification (statement) of 3/4 states by legislative assemblies or 3/4 conventions of the states called according to the decision of the federal congress. As a result of these difficulties in two and a half centuries as it was noted, only 27 amendments are adopted (more than 5 thousand amendments were offered, the congress accepted about 40 of them, the necessary majority of states ratified 27). Single amendments have no basic value as are devoted to rather private questions, some enter, and then cancel any provisions (for example, amendments XVIII and XXI go dehumidified and cancel).

For the first time the constitution of the USA was added with the Bill about the rights (the first ten amendments) adopted in 1789 and ratified by the demanded number of states in 1791. The bill about the rights fixes the major political and personal liberty (are considered below). From area of the social and economic rights in it it is told only about some guarantees of a private property: no property can be selected for general welfare without fair compensation. Basic value three have the «post-war amendments» adopted after Civil war of 1861 - 1865. It is the XIII amendment (1865) about recognition of the former Black slaves by citizens of the USA and about equal rights of citizens, the XIV amendment (it is accepted in 1966, it is ratified in 1968) about racial and national equality of citizens, about prohibition of deprivation of life, freedom, property without due legal proceedings, about deprivation of right-certain officials for participation in mutiny, about some questions of a public debt and the XV amendment (it is accepted in 1869, it is ratified in 1870) about equality of electoral rights of the male citizens. The XIX amendment (it is accepted in 1917, it is ratified in 1919) granted electoral rights to women, XXIV – are forbidden by disfranchisement for failure to pay taxes, XXVII – are forbidden to senators and to chamber – representatives to increase the size of the salary. Other amendments concern a way of election of the president and senators, continuity of the power in case of the early termination of the powers by the president, single questions of justice, etc. Amendments, as well as the constitution, in many respects have pragmatical character.

Thus, the constitutional control is exercised by the general courts, and the final decision under federal acts is made by the U.S. Supreme Court, under acts of states – usually Supreme Courts of states, but willows the last case according to the complaint of the party (if this complaint passes necessary judicial instances) the U.S. Supreme Court can make a final decision. It was told about features of the constitutional control exercised by the general courts in the General part of a course.

  1.  Constitutional status of the personality

The concept of human rights which is the cornerstone of the constitutional regulation proceeds from idea about the natural and inaliennable rights.

Human right – it is the natural, inaliennable rights belonging to it owing to the birth as persons. Under slogans of inaliennable human rights the advanced representatives of «the third estate», the revolutionary bourgeoisie, opposed an arbitrariness of absolute monarches and enslaving of the personality by medieval church. The demand of protection of human rights is made and now by various movements directed against authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

Refer a common law on life, freedom, safety, property, physical and mental integrity, dignity of the personality, personal and family secret to number of inaliennable human rights, etc. In recent years here join also some rights of the «third» and «fourth» generation, for example a right to use achievements of culture or pure environment. It is considered that the government can't grant or alienate these rights the acts and actions.

The rights of the citizen, on the contrary, are connected with the fact of nationality, belonging of the person to the state, political community. It the rights of the personality as member of political community, they are connected with acts and actions of government bodies. Treat their number, electoral rights, the right for association in political parties, the right for participation in administration of the state, etc. Here also some social and economic rights belong. The political rights of the citizen were included in the constitution subsequently, and about the social and economic and cultural rights in the constitutional texts it isn't told at all (except for the amendment V about guarantees of a private property). These rights aren't considered fundamental and aren't provided with judicial protection by claims - only the rights, derivative of them, for example, the right for compensation, but not the right for work are protected. These gaps of the constitutional regulation are filled with separate laws. It is, for example, about several laws on the civil rights adopted in 50 - 60-egoda, about judicial precedents (especially about decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court), constitutions of states (many of them contain charters of the civil rights), about laws of states. Some of these laws contain new constitutional provisions, for example, the right for information, for healthy environment.

The legal status of the person depends on its status: the citizen, the foreigner, the stateless person, the person with multiple nationality. Citizens of the state have the broadest rights. Citizens of the state also happen, aren't identical by the situation. The nee and naturalized citizens i.e. accepted in nationality according to the procedure established by the law differ.

The Declaration of independence of 1776 mentioned above in which it was declared inalienable rights of the person - about the right for life, freedom and aspiration fortunately was the first constitutional document in which it was told about the rights of the personality in the USA. Here also the collective right of the people for revolt against oppression was for the first time formulated (colonial oppression from a crown of Great Britain meant).

The constitution of 1787 (with amendments) fixes a personal liberty not so much in the general, how many in the concretized form. Except emergency situations she forbids to suspend the rule хабеас the case, orders to consider all cases on crimes with participation of jurors, forbids to adopt laws on disgrace (punishment without judicial proceedings) and the laws having retroactive force. The constitution forbids to deprive of the civil rights of members of families of those persons who are condemned for high treason, excludes check of religious beliefs as a condition for occupation of any state position.

The bill about the rights too proceeds from the concept of the natural rights. Therefore its formulations have prohibitive character as forbid to limit the rights and freedoms which are presumed. It belongs and to the political rights. The bill establishes that the congress shouldn't issue the laws limiting a freedom of speech, the press, meetings (peace and without weapon), the right of the people to carry and store the weapon, the right to address to the government with petitions. According to the Bill about the rights, the freedom of worship, protection of the personality, papers is provided (documents, correspondence other), property, the jury not only on criminal cases, but also on a certain category of civil cases, the right accused on protection, the right to refuse evidence against itself is provided. Double punishment for the same crime isn't allowed, it is forbidden to demand big pledge on lawsuits, to impose excessive penalties, to apply cruel and unusual punishments.

Thus, except the Bill about the rights about 10 amendments which concern the rights and freedoms of the person were adopted further. These amendments, since XIII (1965), cancelled slavery of Blacks were already listed above. However in general the Declaration of independence, the constitution of the USA and the amendment to it don't contain that list of the rights and freedoms which would conform to the international standards - the Universal declaration of human rights adopted by the UN in 1948, to the International covenants on human rights which came into force in 1976. As it was noted, these shortcomings, though not completely, but are filled with constitutions of separate states, federal laws, judicial precedents.


The lines of the American Constitution described above continue to characterize the Constitution and at the end of the twentieth century. At the same time, since 1787 there were serious changes because of formal changes in it, and also because of evolution in interpretation and application of the document. This combination of continuity and changes is best of all shown in the federal system created by the Constitution.

On the one hand, the local governments and the governments of states continue to play a significant role in the American political system and assume quite wide range of tasks while the central prerogative of the federal government are questions of international policy and affairs of national importance.

On the other hand, in our century of power of the federal authority are interpreted so widely that the Congress in principle can regulate everything that he considers problematic for all nation. Though it is clear that the idea of lawful check of the national power considerably decreased, nevertheless in 1994 the U.S. Supreme Court declared one federal law unconstitutional as that interfered in the sphere of power of states.

The system of controls and counterbalances of the authorities continues to work, check and divide the power effectively. And the Constitution continues to contain mixture of democratic and antidemocratic lines to establish, and also to limit national authority. Within two centuries practice of votes was widely developed, though underwent some changes in comparison with 1787.

Wonderfully the Constitution of the USA, the oldest and the shortest (contains 4400 words apart from the text of amendments) of all hand-written constitutions of the governments, here for more than 200 years continues to work effectively. Commentators claim that its secret – in flexibility and opportunity differently to treat various provisions. But at the same time it is the stablest law as formally to make to it changes very difficult. The constitution is also necessary for control of the power of the government as this power "occurs" from people. It represents contrast with other forms of the right created by the government for control of people.

And still for Americans the Constitution is more, than simply the code of laws. It is a symbol. Wordly bible. All values of society, all priorities and forms of these priorities are reflected in it. It is especially reflected in the Preamble where the Constitution purposes, and in Bill about the rights proclaiming the rights of people are written down. And all document in general reflects classical liberal views on individual freedom, equality, property, representative democracy and the limited government, and the Statue of Liberty costs in New York and will always stand there while in a crypt behind doors weighing five with superfluous tons which can sustain force of nuclear explosion, the small parcel signed in 1787 by 39 men, and which is for any American something much bigger is stored in strictly measured mix of helium and water vapor than simply by a guarantee of democracy of their country, the United States of America.


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