Video encyclopedia

Constitution of the United States


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The U.S. Constitution at the National Archives

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. The Constitution, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ; the executive, consisting of the President ; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Articles Four, Five and Six embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it. It is regarded as the oldest written and codified national constitution in force.
  • Background 

  • History 

  • Influences 

  • Original frame 

  • Amending the Constitution 

  • Ratified amendments 

  • Unratified amendments 

  • Judicial review 

  • Civic religion 

  • Worldwide influence 

  • Criticisms