Bill of Rights Institute Video Library

Separation of Powers

Do you understand why separation of powers is important for protecting our freedom? This short, engaging video focuses on the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Clear definitions and graphics, an engaging historical narrative, brief scholar interviews, and memorable quotes will make this 6-minute video perfect for use any time of the year! A short viewing guide is also available to guide you through the content. For in-depth exploration of this principle, including primary sources and additional, resources, click here.

If you can’t access YouTube in your classroom – watch the video on Flickr.

Consent of the Governed

Do you understand the principle of consent of the governed? This short, engaging video focuses on the constitutional principle of consent of the governed through American history. Clear definitions and graphics, an engaging historical narrative, brief scholar interviews, and memorable quotes will make this 6-minute video perfect for use any time of the year! A short viewing guide is also available to guide you through the content. For in-depth exploration of this principle, including primary sources and additional, resources, click here.

If you can’t access YouTube in your classroom – watch the video on Flickr.

 

Rule of Law Video

Do you understand why the rule of law is important for maintaining free society? This short, engaging video on the constitutional principle of the rule of law. Exciting visuals from current events, an engaging historical narrative, brief scholar interviews, and memorable quotes will make this 8-minute video perfect for use on Bill of Rights Day, and every day! A short viewing guide is also available to guide you through the content. For in-depth exploration of this principle, including primary sources and additional, resources, click here.

Representative Government Video

You’ve told us that students often confuse republics and democracies. We created a short, engaging video on the constitutional principle of representative government. Exciting visuals from current events, an engaging historical narrative, brief scholar interviews, familiar music, and memorable quotes will make this 7-minute video a hit with students! A short viewing guide is also available to guide your students through the content. If you can’t access YouTube in your classroom – watch the video on TeacherTube. For in-depth exploration of this principle, including primary sources and additional, resources, click here.

 

Presidents & the Constitution Videos

Elections – Selecting the President

While many Americans believe they have a right to vote for President, they actually never cast votes for candidates themselves. They vote for electors who, in modern times, are pledged to vote for certain candidates. This process differs from what was imagined by the Founders, who designed a republican system for citizens to vote for individuals in their state who they believed were wise and prudent (electors). Electors, chosen by the people, would then vote among candidates for President on behalf of their state. Despite recurrent calls for its abolition, the Electoral College has served and continues to serve as a means for presidential selection that represents the will of the people as well as the sovereignty of states. Learn more at ArticleII.org.

War – Commander in Chief

While Congress has the power to declare war, raise and provide for the armed forces, as well as other war powers, the President serves as Commander in Chief of the United States military. The Founders’ commitment to civilian control of the military is evident in this decision. They believed that the collective wisdom of Congress would be put to good use in determining whether to declare war, but that once declared, one individual would best be able to wage war. Like many of the President’s powers, the extent of his or her power as Commander in Chief has been debated. Do these powers apply anywhere other than military situations? Does the President’s role as Commander in Chief empower him to act in ways that may abridge the rights citizens who are not members of the military? Learn more at ArticleII.org.

Chief Diplomat – Advice & Consent of the Senate

The Constitution’s principle of separation of powers is reflected in the President’s power to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Constitution goes on to require that two-thirds of Senators present must approve a treaty before it can be ratified. As “Chief Diplomat” for the nation, the President represents the United States to other countries, and directs our foreign policy. Various Presidents in our history have approached the concept of “advice and consent” differently, and have had varying degrees of success at persuading Senators of the wisdom of the treaties they have negotiated. Learn more at ArticleII.org.

Slavery – All Other Persons

At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates were concerned with the survival of the young nation. Many delegates called for strong protections for slavery, while many others hated the idea of putting into the Constitution the idea that there could be property in people. With the goal of forming a Union, they reached a compromise. Slave states would count 3/5ths of their slave populations towards their state populations to calculate taxation and representation in Congress. Additionally, Congress could not outlaw the international slave trade until 1808. The debate over the federal government’s power to regulate slavery continued through the Civil War. Learn more at ArticleII.org.

Federal Power – Powers Herein Granted

Debate about the limits of the president’s power began at the Constitutional Convention and continues today. James Madison, considered the “Father of the Constitution,” believed that strict limits on federal power were best for liberty. Powers of the federal government which were not enumerated in the Constitution were forbidden. Many later Presidents agreed with Madison, while others, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt, took a more expansive view of the scope of federal power. Theodore Roosevelt was the first President to argue that powers not forbidden were granted. He presided over the greatest expansion of federal power in our nation’s history to that time. Learn more at ArticleII.org.