The Constitution

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The 18th Amendment, which began the Prohibition era with the outlawing of alcohol, opened the doors to organized crime during the 1920s, overwhelming law enforcement prior to the amendment's repeal in 1933. This was the only American constitutional amendment to be repealed in its entirety.

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  • What is the purpose of the Constitution?

    Q: What is the purpose of the Constitution?

    A: The main purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to establish the basic rights of all American citizens and provide direction on how the government should work. The Constitution also provides the framework for law and order and describes the roles of the government's federal judiciary branch, legislative branch and executive branch.
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  • Is it illegal to burn the American flag?

    Q: Is it illegal to burn the American flag?

    A: In 1989, the United States Supreme Court ruled that burning or desecrating a flag was a protected expression, and therefore legal, under the First Amendment. As of 2015, that ruling stands, but flag desecration hasn't always been protected by the Constitution, and there are plenty of efforts throughout history to outlaw it.
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  • Why is the Fifth Amendment important?

    Q: Why is the Fifth Amendment important?

    A: The Fifth Amendment is important because it specifies legal safeguards for the criminally accused that are designed to protect citizens' life, liberty and property. Among these safeguards are protection against multiple trials for the same crime and the right to refrain from presenting self-incriminating testimony.
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  • What did the delegates agree to at the Philadelphia Convention?

    Q: What did the delegates agree to at the Philadelphia Convention?

    A: The Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, also known as the Philadelphia Convention, agreed to terms that established the powers of Congress and rules regarding representation that are presently enacted. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 gave Congress the power to regulate the economy, the national defense system and the currency. The Philadelphia Convention also established the rules that dictated the representation each state would receive in the Congress.
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  • Why was the 18th Amendment important?

    Q: Why was the 18th Amendment important?

    A: The 18th Amendment, which began the Prohibition era with the outlawing of alcohol, opened the doors to organized crime during the 1920s, overwhelming law enforcement prior to the amendment's repeal in 1933. This was the only American constitutional amendment to be repealed in its entirety.
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  • What is the only crime defined by the Constitution?

    Q: What is the only crime defined by the Constitution?

    A: The only crime defined in the Constitution of the United States is treason. The reason why treason is defined is that, under English common law, crimes were defined by courts based on what they believed violated justice. Without proper definition, anyone could be sentenced for treason on a court's whim.
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  • What is a right or freedom from the First Amendment?

    Q: What is a right or freedom from the First Amendment?

    A: According to Cornell University Law School, the First Amendment protects the rights to freedom of religion, the right to assemble, and freedom of expression, which includes freedom of speech and of the press. It also provides the right to petition the government in the event of grievances.
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  • What is the purpose of the preamble?

    Q: What is the purpose of the preamble?

    A: The purpose of the preamble is the outline the reasons behind the writing of the U.S. Constitution and the goals of the document. Although the preamble gives useful insight into the framers' intentions, the courts do not use it as a source of rights or powers that are not specifically enumerated in the body of the U.S. Constitution.
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  • Who wrote the 24th Amendment?

    Q: Who wrote the 24th Amendment?

    A: The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution was written by Congress at large, not by an individual author. It was proposed on August 27, 1962 and ratified on January 23, 1964.
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  • Who was the main author of the Declaration of Independence?

    Q: Who was the main author of the Declaration of Independence?

    A: Thomas Jefferson is considered to be the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, according to America's Library, of the Library of Congress. Jefferson wrote the draft that was considered by the Continental Congress between June 11 and 28, 1776.
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  • Who was the main influence in the development of the Bill of Rights?

    Q: Who was the main influence in the development of the Bill of Rights?

    A: ConstitutionFacts.com states that James Madison originally proposed the Bill of Rights because some of the founding fathers argued that the U.S. Constitution did not protect human rights. Key influences in this proposal include the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the English Declaration of Rights and works of the Age of Enlightenment.
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  • What is the main purpose of the Bill of Rights?

    Q: What is the main purpose of the Bill of Rights?

    A: The main purpose of the U.S. Bill of Rights is to define the civil liberties of American citizens. It refers to the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and it was introduced in 1789 to guarantee the protection of the basic rights that citizens continue to enjoy.
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  • How many times can a governor be elected?

    Q: How many times can a governor be elected?

    A: Every state has its own constitution in which governor term limits are outlined. There are 37 states that place various term limits on state governors and elections.
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  • Who has the sole power of impeachment?

    Q: Who has the sole power of impeachment?

    A: Impeachment power is given solely to the House of Representatives. It also includes the power to disqualify an impeached officer from holding future positions. The Senate is the sole court for impeachment trials, while fines and imprisonment penalties are addressed in civil courts.
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  • Why did the Child Labor Amendment fail?

    Q: Why did the Child Labor Amendment fail?

    A: The Child Labor Amendment failed because it did not meet the requisite number of states for ratification. Passage required 38 states, but it stalled at 28, notes Mental Floss.
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  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution?

    Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Constitution?

    A: The United States Constitution provides the foundation for a strong central government with authority to regulate interstate disputes and commerce, enforce citizens' rights and defend from hostile forces. However, much of it is too vague to provide definitive interpretations. It can be amended, but the process is slow. Citizens vote for representatives directly but don't get a direct vote on policies. There is no way to address bipartisanship.
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  • Why is it so difficult to amend the Constitution?

    Q: Why is it so difficult to amend the Constitution?

    A: The Constitution is difficult to amend because it requires a supermajority of either members of Congress or a supermajority of state legislatures to propose a new amendment for ratification. Even after acquiring the requisite two-thirds of either group to propose the amendment, it then has to be ratified by 75 percent of the states, either by their legislatures or state Constitutional conventions.
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  • Who was the oldest person to sign the U.S. Constitution?

    Q: Who was the oldest person to sign the U.S. Constitution?

    A: The oldest person to sign the Constitution of the United States was Benjamin Franklin. When the document was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, Franklin was 81 years old.
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  • Why is censorship bad?

    Q: Why is censorship bad?

    A: The debate about censorship offers many explanations for why censoring a person's words is a bad thing that negatively affects the society as a whole. The American Civil Liberties Union defines censorship as "the suppression of words, images or ideas that are 'offensive'," and censorship occurs whenever one group or individual is successful in promoting its ideologies while suppressing another.
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  • What is a summary of the 13th amendment to the Constitution?

    Q: What is a summary of the 13th amendment to the Constitution?

    A: The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution pertains to the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude. It was adopted on Dec. 6, 1865, as part of a suite of amendments passed in response to the Civil War, regarding civil rights and black suffrage.
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  • What is ensuring domestic tranquility?

    Q: What is ensuring domestic tranquility?

    A: Ensuring domestic tranquility involves keeping the peace within the nation. It means preventing domestic terrorism at the hands of citizens and outsiders and controlling rebellious behavior that threatens to undermine national security.
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