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Congress has formed a congressional committee. This committee will examine the U.S. Constitution and the purposes of government. The members of your group are expert witnesses who will appear before the committee. You will be asked to testify on the following questions:

Use the resources below to complete your congressional committee research. Here is a resource that can help answer any of the topic questions.



Question 1: John Locke was an English philosopher who thought about why it was neccessary to have government.
  • What did Locke think would happen without government?
  • What did Locke believe to be the purpose of government?
  • Do you think government might have purposes that Locke did not mention?

John Locke Biography From Revolution to Reconstruction

American History Biography of John Locke

Biography of John Locke

Locke's Political Philosophy


Question 2: The Declaration of Independence told the world why the Americans wanted to free themselves from British rule. The Declaration stated the Founders' beliefs about government.
  • Using the Declaration as your source, in your own words describe the principles of good government.
  • Where did the Founders get these ideas?
  • Do you thin these principles are valid today? Why or why not?

Writing the Declaration of Independence

Drafting the Declaration of Independence
Classical Influence on the Founding Fathers

Writing the Declaration of Independence Video and Text
What Was the Declaration of Independence?


Question 3: Articles I, II, and III of the Constitution list the powers of the Congress, president, and the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the national government.
  • Describe some of the powers the Consitution gives to the Congress. In what ways does the Constitution limit the power of Congress?
  • Describe some of the powers of the president. In what ways does the Constitution limit the power of the president?
  • Describe some of the powers of the judiciary. In what ways does the Consitution limit the power of the U.S. Supreme Court?

Our Government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial
Three Branches of Government
Our Government Seesaw
Discovery Video on the Separation of Powers
Checks and Balances
More on Checks and Balances



Question 4: Judicial review is an important part of our constitutional system of government.
  • How did the Supreme Court acquire the power of judicial review?
  • Do you think the Supreme Court should have the power to declare an act of Congress unconstitutional? Why or whay not?
  • How should justices determine the meaning of the words of the Constitution?

The Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court in a Nutshell

Judicial Review

The Nature of the Supreme Court
Judicial Power

Suprme Court Interactive Game


Question 5: The First Amendment states that laws shall not be passed that abridge the freedom of speech.
  • Why did the Founders think freedom of speech was so important?
  • Do you believe there are times when freedom of expression should be limited? Explain your response.

Freedom of Speech

Changing Views of Free Speech

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Expression


Question 6: Many people believe that na informed citizenry is essential if democracy is to work.
  • Shoulde people be required to pass periodic citizenship tests to maintain their citizenship? Why or why not?
  • Would you favor requiring literacy tests, fairly administered, before allowing citizens to vote? Why or why not?

Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities

Elections and Voting

Becoming a Citizen

Voting Rights

Article on Current Citizenship Argument