We the People: Part 1

The first three words of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution immediately differentiate this document from all those declarations of rights that had come before it. Who were the men, that are now referred to as the Framers of the constitution? What were their main concerns and how do they echo today in our lives, over 230 years later? Why did they pick our form of government? Why even before the ink was dry on the main Seven Articles of the constitution, did they feel the need to add the first ten amendments, known today as the Bill of Rights? What were the driving forces behind future important amendments? We will first review the main body of the original seven articles. Each will be reviewed with an eye toward their interpretation then and now. We will investigate the rather arcane institution known as the electoral college. The rules of the Senate, which are nowhere in the constitution yet impact our lives, will also get a closer look. We will also review some of the key rights bestowed in the U.S. Constitution such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, and the right to due process and equal protection under the law. And, observe how the application of those rights has changed over time. The goal of our journey is not to develop a cadre of Constitutional scholars but to fulfill Thomas Jefferson’s famous challenge ‘…a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy.’ These discussions will occur over two semesters. The first eight weeks will cover the main articles of the constitution, the rules of government. The second semester will cover the Bill of Rights and other key amendments. For our common text, we will use ‘The U.S. Constitution’ annotated by Ray Raphael available via the registration form for $8.

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