Constitutional concepts in the US


The Constitution creates a balance between rules and rights, which is very important for any government. When the public elects surrenders their power and entrusts with a few individuals through elections, they enter into a social contract. The Constitution is a document that guarantee rights of the people as well as the responsibilities of the leaders and members of the public (Fabry). This paper focuses on notable constitutional concepts that define the political and social sphere of the US, such as the freedom of religion and that of the media, the Electoral College, the checks and balances system, and the admission of new states. The paper aims to explain the manifestation of these constitutional concepts, their significance, and the individuals that reckoned it was important to have such concepts in place. It will also discuss why those concepts are still dominant to date, considering that they define to a greater extent the different spheres of the lives of the US citizenry and their leaders.

Admission of new states

In the United States, a new territory can be admitted into a state and be added to the Constitution. Its addition to the Constitution means that it has acquired legal status and thus is allowed by law to run its affairs, governance wise and enjoy representation in the Legislature in both houses. Before a completely new territory that is not part of an existing state that is already recognized by law acquires stateship status, 9 votes are required by Congress. The rules of admission of new states dictate that no new state can be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state, or combined with another state or parts of States without the consent of the Legislature of the States in question as well as the Congress. The Constitutional concept of the admission of new states brings about the doctrine of equality of states, which is summarized as. ‘equality of constitutional right and power is the condition of all the States of the Union, old and new.’ The doctrine is now a truism of Constitutional law, despite being dismissed in the Constitutional Convention. The Constitution provides that the admission of new states is to be done on the same terms with the original States.  Whenever a territory is admitted into the Union, the cases pending in the territorial court that are of exclusive federal cognizance are transferred to the federal court that has jurisdiction over the area. For those that are not cognizable in federal courts, they are transferred to the tribunals of the new states. It is a common occurrence for the emergence of new territories or the need for existing States to split to allow for better governance, settle political feuds, or allow for better service delivery to people of a State who apply to the Congress citing failed representation of their needs in governance.

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Freedom of religion

In 1785, Virginia Statesman and future President James Madison argued against state support of Christian religious instruction. He went ahead and drafted the First Amendment, whose objective was to offer constitutional protection for certain individual liberties including freedom of religion, speech, and the press and the rights to assemble and petition the government. In the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights proposed by anti-federalists, anyone in the United States can practice whichever religion they deem fit per their beliefs and customs.  The freedom, however, comes with a limitation that it is not supposed to suppress or infringe the rights of other people (Fox and Flores). The constitutional provision on the freedom of religion prevents any laws from being enact that regulate or restrict any religion. The federal government is also barred from barring the practice of any form of religion. The government is also held to the accord by the law not to declare any official or national religion that will, in a way, limit a section of the public from exercising their religion of choice. The First Amendment enforces the separation of church and state but fails to exclude religion from public life. Religion is very instrumental in the politics of the US. It sets the basis for the enjoyment of other freedoms, such as liberty and expression. With the public guaranteed their freedom of expression, it is prohibitory to use religious tests as a qualification for public office. The prohibition of the government from interfering with the religious beliefs and practices set the premise for a free and empowered society and promotes religious tolerance.

Electoral College

It is a process, not a place that was established by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and the election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. In the recently concluded US Elections that led to President Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States, Hillary Clinton won by popular vote of qualified citizens but lost to Donald Trump, who won in the Electoral College (Sides, Tesler and Vavreck). The sole purpose of the Electoral College is to elect the President and the vice president. Citizen votes go to the Electoral College and not directly to the President and the vice president. The Electoral College has 538 electors, 100 are senators, and the remainder are elected members of the House of Representatives. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting if the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress. Each candidate running for President in a State has his or her own group of electors (known as a slate) who are chosen by the candidate’s political party in a State.

Checks and balance

The checks and balances system was put in place to ensure that not one of the 3 arms of government (Executive, Judiciary, Legislature) has more power compared to the other arms. The three arms of government have their roles and powers articulated in the Constitution, and any of them that acts contrary to what is provided is considered to be overstepping its mandate. Thus its actions are recalled and disallowed (Bruff). The powers and roles are assigned in such a way that they are equal to one another and are strategically placed to check the decisions of one another. A good example of the checks and lances system in action is when the Legislature proposes a new law, and the Executive fails to approve it, the President can veto it.

Importance of the media

The media is considered an essential tool for communication and the dissemination of credible and accurate information to the public. It is commonly called the Fourth Estate, and to that effect, its mandate has been likened to that of a possible fourth arm of government. It shares equal stature with the other arms of government created by the Constitution. The media plays the critical role of safeguarding the democracy of the US, a role guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1789. The Amendment stipulates that Congress is forbidden from enacting any laws gagging or suppressing the freedom of the media. The media has a significant impact on the world (Woolley). It can transmit information within seconds around the globe. Social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are essential tools that the government can use to spread information. Social media is considered an important platform for the dissemination of information because, at this age and day, almost everyone in the public sphere is heavily dependent on it to receive information, educate themselves on life issues, and keep themselves updated on happenings in the current world (Entman). The media is empowered as a result of the freedom of expression and that of the media that is assured by the US Constitution. The government uses the media to communicate to the public any notable developments in government as well as educates them on enacted laws and how they are most like to affect them.


It is evident that the US government, democracy, and the public life stand threatened in the absence of the constitutional concepts discussed above. These concepts lay a great in aligning government functions and systems of governance as well as empower the public to enjoy their rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution. On the alignment of government functions, the paper has established that it is important for legal procedures to be enacted to guide processes such as the admission of new states, conducting elections, and power-sharing between the arms of government. The concepts also touch on the private lives of members of the public in a bid to ensure that their humanity, which manifests in their beliefs and customs is protected, and they can hold the government accountable in the event of a breach of laws that touch on their private lives and other aspects of their lives such as political, social, economic, among others.

Works Cited

Bruff, Harold H. “Balance of Forces: Separation of Powers Law in the Administrative State.” (2006).

Entman, Robert M. “Putting the First Amendment in its place: enhancing American democracy through the press.” U. Chi. Legal. F. (1993): 61.

Fabry, Mikulas. Recognizing states: International society and the establishment of new states since 1776. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Fox, Jonathan and Deborah Flores. “Religions, constitutions, and the state: A cross-national study.” .” The Journal of Politics 71.4 (2009): 1499-1513.

Sides, John, Michael Tesler and Lynn Vavreck. “The 2016 US election: How Trump lost and won.” Journal of Democracy 28.2 (2017): 34-44.

Woolley, John T. “Using media-based data in studies of politics.” American Journal of Political Science (2000): 156-173.

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