The Constitution and the Bill of Rights - Reading Comprehension
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The Constitution and the Bill of Rights Reading Comprehension
     The Constitution and the Bill of Rights reading comprehension (sample is shown below)



The Constitution and the Bill of Rights
By Phyllis Naegeli
  

1     Our Constitution has endured over two hundred years of testing. It has stood as an example of freedom, not only in America, but also around the world. The first draft contained seven articles that formed our federal government. It replaced the weaker government that was created by the Articles of Confederation. Our Constitution has been called "a bundle of compromises." In coming to these compromises, the original framers established a strong central government.
 
2     Article I established the legislative branch of our government. It divided the Congress - the law-making body - into two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. As a result of "The Great Compromise" the formation of the Senate made the smaller states happy. Each state has two senators. The House of Representatives satisfied the larger states. Representatives are assigned based on population. Laws must be approved by both parts of the Congress. This gives everyone an equal voice in our government. The Congress was given the power to coin money and collect taxes. They can establish a military. The Congress makes laws and approves many of the decisions of the executive branch.
 
3     Article II established the executive branch. This branch carries out the laws made by the Congress. It established the office of president. It outlines the powers of this office. Commanding the military, appointing judges and ambassadors, negotiating treaties, and approving or vetoing laws made by the Congress were given to this branch of the government. It allows for the president to choose a cabinet to help do the day-to-day work of the government. Today there are fifteen cabinet departments.
 
4     Article III established the Supreme Court. This is the highest court in our land. The nine judges who serve in this branch are appointed by the president. The Congress approves these appointments. The Supreme Court decides cases involving constitutional and federal laws. The Congress was given the power to establish the lower courts in this branch. This was done in 1789 with the creation of the U.S. District Courts and the U.S. Appeals Courts.
 
5     Article IV established the relationship of the states. States were now required to obey the laws of the central government and to honor one another. The central government would provide a military to defend the states. Congress was given the power to admit new states.
 
6     Article V established a way to change the Constitution. The delegates knew the country was growing. They knew that things would change. Therefore, they planned a way to amend the Constitution. However, they didn't make it easy. First, an amendment must pass both houses of Congress by a two-thirds vote. Then, three-fourths of the states must also approve the amendment.
 
7     Article VI says that the government must pay the country's debts. In addition, it makes the Constitution and treaties the supreme law of the land. Any laws made by Congress or state governments must agree with the Constitution. People who serve in the government must take an oath of office. They must promise to support the Constitution. It also prohibits the use of a religious test for officials in the federal government.
 
8     Article VII established the rules for ratification. Once nine of the thirteen states held conventions and agreed to the Constitution, it became the supreme law of the land. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution.
 
9     During the process of ratification, Massachusetts and Maryland conditionally agreed to the Constitution. Both states were concerned that the people's rights were not listed in the document. This resulted in the addition of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments that outlined the rights of the people. These rights include freedoms such as religion, speech, press, assembly, the right to privacy, and the rights given to people accused of breaking the law.

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