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The President and the Constitution

The President and the Constitution: How citizens, congress, the courts and the media influence presidential power is a Special Report by the Washington Times Advocacy Department and the National Constitutional Literacy Campaign.

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Julie Silverbrook (fourth from right), executive director of The Constitutional Sources Project, and Josh Blackman, president of Harlan Institute (third from right), stand with winners and judges of ConSource-Harlan Institute Virtual Supreme Court Competition in April 2016. The students had to write appellate briefs on an affirmative-action case, and argue against other student teams before a panel of attorneys. Image courtesy of ConSource.

Student competitions spark optimism, civic involvement

Every year, thousands of students across the nation take part in civics and history competitions. They work tirelessly to study the United States Constitution, American history and government so they can answer questions in front of panels of esteemed judges or write essays evaluated by experts.

Effective civic education produces informed voters

Civic education is the primary way our citizens acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for informed and engaged citizenship. While many institutions, such as the family, the church and social organizations, help forge a person's civic character and propensity to participate, civic education in the schools is the one common experience American citizens share that helps them acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge and attitudes that prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.

Civic illiteracy and civic disempowerment

Constitution Day provides a critical opportunity for students and citizens to reflect on the importance of America's Founding documents and their relevance to today's culture. In a republican form of government, the dangers inherent in having an ill-informed electorate are real indeed. America's leaders, from the Founding through modern times, have recognized that in order for our system of government to function and thrive, it would by definition require the dedicated and well-informed participation of American citizens.

A Democratic or Republican election?

The question on everyone's mind during a presidential election is, "Will we have a Democratic or Republican president?" Of course, that decision is left to the voters — or is it?

'Tyranny of the swing states'?

When the Founding Fathers created our electoral system, they might have been surprised to discover, more than two centuries later, that these two things could be true at the same time: One, that the country had embraced mass democracy, including giving the franchise to men and women of all races, incomes and classes; and two, that despite doing that, the country was still using the Electoral College system that they had implemented at the dawn of the country — a system that was not designed with the intention of promoting mass democracy.

Founders intended 'tension' in co-equal branches

Two of the three branches of our government -- Congress and the White House and its executive branch -- are used to interacting with each other. But they don't routinely interact with the Supreme Court.

Political gridlock, past and present

Election night 2010 was a smashing success for congressional Republicans. In a reversal of fortunes after Democrat Barack Obama's 2008 presidential victory, the GOP recaptured control of the House of Representatives after having lost it to the Democrats four years earlier.

Constitution Day: Protecting our democracy

When the Framers signed the United States Constitution, they created a federal system of government with three co-equal branches, designed to work cooperatively but also designed to serve as checks and balances. As we celebrate the 229th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, Americans across this great nation take time to reflect on its enduring legacy and the many challenges that our constitutional system of government faces.

The battle to 'keep' the American Republic

Perhaps the most famous words spoken on the day we commemorate this week — September 17, 1787 -- were those of Benjamin Franklin. After the Constitution had been signed and the convention adjourned, Franklin was asked by a group of curious Philadelphians gathered outside Independence Hall what type of government the delegates had created. "A republic," he replied, "if you can keep it."

Congress and the new imperial presidency

The greatest political revolution in the United States since the establishment of the Constitution has been the shift of power away from the lawmaking institutions of republican government to an oligarchy of unelected experts who rule over virtually every aspect of our lives.

The president, the Constitution and the Supreme Court

As we celebrate Constitution Day in the middle of a pitched election fight with deep consequences for the country, there is no better time to think about the president and the Constitution. While our Founders created three co-equal branches of government in a system of checks and balances, the person who holds the office of president is the single most recognizable, individual protagonist at any moment in our nation's constitutional story.

The Constitution on the campaign trail in 2016

The United States Constitution establishes the framework for American government and reflects the fundamental principles and values of the nation. It is, therefore, no surprise that it is often a central part of the discussion during presidential election years.

Preserving the 'genius' of the Constitution

- The Washington Times

The success of the American Republic is directly traceable to the wisdom and work of the 55 men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft a constitution designed not so much to empower government, but to limit that power. Forrest McDonald, perhaps the most influential of historians on the intellectual origins of the Constitution, claimed it could not have been written by any other 55 men at any other time in history. At fewer than 8,000 words, it's a short document when compared to the fundamental documents of other nations and it has, in spite of its critics, stood up remarkably well since its adoption in 1789.

Is the media responsible for the too-powerful presidency?

Once in a blue moon, Hollywood portrays our American government accurately. The ABC educational series, "Schoolhouse Rock!" a staple memory from the children of the 1970s, showed American kids just how the nation was founded -- and with catchy cartoons like the "Three Ring Circus" of government and "I'm Just a Bill," a generation of young people got a decent glimpse into how our government was supposed to operate.

How social media gives public opinion wings

Social media has provided a newer, more direct forum in which politicians talk to people. However, social media's biggest impact on politics arguably has less to do with politicians talking, and more to do with them listening.

Unteaching Professor Obama's constitutional lessons

President Obama's illegal executive actions concerning the Affordable Care Act, education and immigration have inflicted irreparable damage to the rule of law. But his disregard of the Constitution has an even more troubling implication for today's youth.

Upholding the right 'to be let alone'

When the Supreme Court ruled in 1928 that the government did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution by wiretapping a person's telephone calls, legendary Justice Louis Brandeis wrote a prescient dissent taking a more expansive view. Justice Brandeis argued that the Constitution protects Americans "in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations" and "conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men."