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The introduction to the Constitution. It states that the people establish the government and lists the purposes of the government.

Separation of powers

The division of powers among the three branches of government in the U.S. The powers are divided among the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

checks and balances

The sharing and balancing of power among the three branches of government so no one branch can control the others.

Legislative branch

The branch of government that makes the laws.

Executive branch

The branch of government that carries out the laws made by the legislative branch.

Judicial branch

The branch of government that interprets and applies the laws and settles disputes.

Judicial review

The power of the courts to say that the Constitution does not allow the government to do something.

Federal system

A form of government in which power is divided between a national government and state and local governments.

Supremecy clause

The clause in the U.S. Constitution that explains that states cannot make laws that conflict with the U.S. Constitution or with the laws made by Congress.


A change or addition to a document.

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the Constitutionn; it lists some basic rights of the people that the federal government may not interfere with and must protect.


The freedoms of citizens, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion; in the U.S.A., these freedoms are protected by the Bill of Rights.


A group of citizens who decide the outcome of a trial.


Having a negative judgement or opinion without knowledge of the facts.

Right of the accused

The protections that the Constitution guarantees to citizens who are accused of crimes. Among these protections are the right to a lawyer and the right to a speedy trial.

Fifth Amendment

States that no person shall have their life, liberty or property taken away from them by the federal government without due process of law.

Due process

The requirement that procedures used by the government in gathering information and making decisions to be reasonable and fair.

Civil War Amendments

The Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution passed after the Civil War; these amendments were intended to give former slaves the rights of citizens.

Fourteenth Amendment

It states that no person shall have his or her life, liberty, or property taken away by state or local governments without due process of law; this amendment protects your right to be treated fairly by your state and local governments. It also defines a citizen as anyone born or naturalized in the United States. It was one of the Civil War Amendments.

Equal Protection Clause

The part of the Fourteenth Amendment that has been used to prevent states from being unfair to citizens because of their race or gender. It prohibits laws that unfairly or unreasonably favor some groups over others.

Nineteenth Amendment

Added to the Constitution in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Civil Rights Movement

In the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s, people worked together to demand that the Federal Government protect the rights of African Americans and other minorities. People worked together to change unfair laws. They gave speeches, marched in protest ad participated in boycotts.

Twenty Sixth Amendment

This amendment gave 18 year olds or older the right to vote in all elections.


To have compassion and show concern for the suffering of others.


The practicing of managing relations between nations without the use of warfare

United Nations

An organization created in 1945 to maintain peace and security for its members.


A person that is a member of a nation.

naturalized citizen

Someone who is born elsewhere but who passes a citizenship test on the Constitution and the history of the United States of America and becomes an American citizen.

resident alien

A person who is not a citizen, but who lives legally in the U.S.A. Resident aliens enjoy most of the rights of citizens. They have the same right to due process of law as citizens.

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