AP Government - Coker 7th Period
AP Reader Assignment #1
Article #5: How Not to Read the Constitution.
Author: Laurence H. Tribe and Michael C. Dorf, 1991.
Summary Paragraph The Constitution is supposed to be a document that finds the balance between the attainment of a civil society and individual rights. A constitution is needed to govern men, because humans are not all angels. However, the constitution must be written in a careful manner as to protect rights and depend on the people for judgement. When looking at the Constitution written by the founding fathers, it is important to notice that the document is only a framework and not a blueprint. Therefore it is not supposed to be read strictly, as the vagueness of it is what makes it effective. The vagueness though is what makes it so hard to read, since the reader sees and reads what he or she chooses to. It is important to keep in mind however, that the framers had absolutely no idea of the contemporary issues that trouble the country today. It is for this reason that the Supreme Court announces that it was the framers’ intention to leave a broad document in order to leave it to succeeding generations to apply it to their problems. The broadness is what feeds diversity in politics, and it is this that somehow encourages good government as agreeance is well fought for. Assessment Paragraph The Constitution is basically just a piece of literature. I may read a poem and take away themes and motifs that are the complete opposite of what another person took away. But thats the beauty in literature. Interpretation is left up to the reader. Granted that might be a setback on such an important document as the Constitution, but it also serves as ingenuity. It is ingenious because even today, the broadness of the document allows new interpretations to be deciphered each and every day according to the current issues that face our society today. I think it’s interesting as well that the framers intended for the document to be of a language that only intellectuals could “have a go at”. This would enforce the idea that many of the framers held when they feared a tyranny of the majority, which in that age, where mostly ignorant.
Article #7: The Anti-Federalist Papers No. 17
Author: Alexander Hamilton, 1787.
Summary Paragraph The new government proposed by the federalists suggests that central government trumps everything else. The anti-federalists believe that the central government will have absolute and uncontrollable power. Clauses such as “necessary and proper” make it that much easier for the central government to rule without consequences. In the very Constitution is says that it will be the supreme law of the land. This leaves absolutely no room for state power. Therefore this government is made of a sole piece and is not a confederation. Too much power is given to the central government in the Constitution. Because of its broadness, it makes it that much easier for the central government to rule according to the document. Powers such as the capability to tax is one of the most dangerous ones. If this power is given to the central government, they can use it to tax the people in order to gain their submission into laws that are not acceptable. It is too much power in the hands of one part of the government. This, along with the power to have a militia but the central government in a position of supreme rulings and tyranny. State governments must be allowed more power in order to balance the powers in the government. Assessment Paragraph Over Exaggeration is the one word that comes to mind when I read this article. Yes the things that Hamilton mentioned were true in some form but the degree to which he took it to was too much. Obviously, if the right people are in power, the things the fears will not come true. This demands the cooperation of federalists and antifederalists in the federal government