What is the Purpose of the U.S. Constitution?

The United States Constitution provides individual protections to not only citizens but states by ensuring rights, preventing the federal government from infringing on these rights, and creating laws.

Protection of basic rights and civil liberties for individuals is one of the main purposes of the U.S. Constitution.

Originally drafted in 1787, this document has been amended 27 times. Often referred to as “The Law of the Land,” it prevents the government from infringing on the basic rights and civil liberties set forth and afforded to them by federal law. However, this is not the only purpose and function of a constitution.

Principles of the Constitution

To understand the purpose and role of this document, it is important to look at the principles and factors that guided the creation of the constitution in the first place. Often referred to in popular literature or scholarly textbooks as the “guiding principles” these include rights of individuals, federalism, law and order, popular sovereignty, judiciary independence, rule of law, and check and balances, which is included with the separating of power of the branches of government.

These principles were designed to protect the way of life and interests of the citizens of the United States.

Articles of the Constitution

Currently, there are seven articles of the U.S. Constitution. Articles can best be defined as a clause or stipulation contained within a document.

The first three articles consist of the Legislative Branch, Executive Branch, and Judicial Branch, in that order.

Those are followed by the States and Amendment.

Debts, Supremacy, and Oaths are contained within the 6th Article and lastly, Ratification.

These articles are the basis for the constitution and the purposes and functions in which they serve.

Organization of Government

The constitution defines a framework for the federal government with rules and regulations that must be followed. As previously mentioned, this includes the legislative branch, executive branch and judiciary branch. It outlines the powers of these branches individually and combined, limiting unnecessary power.

Furthermore, it identifies and outlines that these branches are not to infringe upon the not only individual but state rights as well. This is achieved by having legally binding processes that must be adhered to by the branches.

Duties and Limitations of the Constitution

In defining the organization of the federal government, the constitution also defines duties and limitations. Simply put, it sets forth laws that the federal government must abide by. It is a map of what can and cannot be done by a branch of government or those that hold offices within those branches.

These laws and sets of rules must be followed even by the president himself.

This lends checks and balances so that one branch may not override aspects of the constitution or abuse power.

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties afforded by the constitution include freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of petition and freedom to media access.

This prevents the government from infringing on and punishing those unlawfully for any of the aforementioned acts.

Another important consideration is that this allows the people of the nation to question government practices and to address them without punishment or retaliation from any branch of the government.

Essentially, this is an important part of remaining a democratic nation. Democracy is heavily integrated throughout the document and also serves as one of the main purposes of a constitution.

Rights of Individuals

Rights of individuals provided by the United States Constitution include the right to a public trial for a criminal offense, the right to possess firearms, the right to question excessive bail or unusual punishment, and the right to question arrests and property seizures without a warrant.

These concepts cover things such as wrongful imprisonment for example. The purpose of the rights of individuals is to prevent the government from abuses of power against its citizens and to extend basic freedoms which are made available to all citizens of the country.

Bill of Rights

The bill of rights constitutes the first ten amendments and includes both the above-mentioned civil liberties and the rights of individuals.

However, there are other provisions included within these first ten amendments. This includes rights pertaining to the housing of soldiers, civil courts, and undelegated powers of the government. Once again, this prevents the government from seeking punitive damages without due process, among many other things.

Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Amendments have allowed for the adaptation of laws as American society has evolved. When the constitution was created, it was created with this in mind. Hence why the amendment process is one of the articles included within the constitution. That way it could be a living, functioning document that fit the needs of Americans as times changed over the years.

There are currently 27 amendments in the constitution.

Citizenship and the Constitution

Although the document contains a lot of information regarding the rights of citizens and the law for government, the constitution also addresses citizenship. Simply put, it addresses who is classified as a citizen of the United States and defines the pathways for those who may not be citizens but wish to become one.

It also lays out the duties and responsibilities expected of the citizens, whether one is naturalized or a citizen by birthright, these duties and responsibilities will apply.

References to citizenship are found throughout various articles and amendments as the constitution was written with citizens and democracy in mind.

Importance of the Constitution

It should go without saying that the primary function and purpose of the constitution is to serve and protect the people of the United States. However, it encompasses so much more than this. It protects citizens from unlawful persecution, aids in the prevention of government tyranny by ensuring checks and balances within the federal government and clearly define the laws that have been set forth for the government.

The constitution covers not only individual rights but state rights and minimizes the unnecessary involvement of federal branches of government. The U.S. Constitution lays out the expectations for citizens and the requirements for gaining citizenship.


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