The Constitution’s principle of separation of powers is highlighted in the President’s power to enforce the law. The Founders were concerned with the potential for abuse of power. Therefore, they gave it to one branch to make law (the Legislature), another to judge its constitutionality (the Judiciary), and another to enforce it (the Executive). The President’s responsibility to enforce the law, as well as the limits on his power to do so, have been debated throughout American history.
Indian Removal Act - Find it on ConstitutionBee.org
This law, signed by President Andrew Jackson gave the president the power to negotiate treaties with American Indian tribes east of the Mississippi River in order to move the Indians west and open lands in Georgia and Mississippi to white settlement. Indians who did not wish to relocate would become citizens of their home state. The War Department offered protection to Indians who stayed from white squatters and looters, but frequently neglected that promise.
The Indian Removal Act and the subsequent forced removal of tens of thousands of people from their native lands, including the 1838 forced removal of thousands of Cherokee known as the Trail of Tears, challenged American constitutional principles and civic values including equality, integrity, justice, majority rule versus minority rights, and respect.
Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection Clause - Find it on ConstitutionBee.org
This clause means that states must apply the law equally and cannot discriminate against people or groups of people arbitrarily. It does not mean all people have to be treated the same way-states can require vision tests to receive a driver's license, for example, but they cannot ban people from driving because of their race.
The Supreme Court held in that Plessy v. Furgeson (1896) that segregation of races did not violate the Equal Protection Clause, but that decision was overturned a half-century later in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) Over time, the clause has been interpreted to protect various classes of people from discrimination by government.
Brown v. Board of Education - Find it on ConstitutionBee.org
Segregation in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court held that separate schools for black and white children could never be "equal." Despite equalizing measures to ensure "equal buildings, curricula, qualifications, and salaries of teachers, and other ‘tangible' factors... Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." This decision overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1869).
The case touched on constitutional principles including economic rights, equality, and individual rights, and on civic values including justice, perseverance, and respect.
Executive Order 10730 - Find it on ConstitutionBee.org
After the Supreme Court held in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that segregation in schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, all public schools were compelled to integrate. Raising issues of federalism, the governor of Arkansas opposed integration and called in the state National Guard to stop the nine black students who had registered for school from entering the building.
In his capacity as Commander in Chief of the military, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed this order in September 1957, bringing the Arkansas National Guard under federal control to assist in the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Want to learn more?
The resources contained on the ArticleII.org website are just the beginning! The Bill of Rights Institute curriculum, Presidents and the Constitution, explores how various presidents understood and exercised their constitutional powers. By exploring constitutional crises in American history, these interactive, hands-on lessons encourage students to analyze the actions of Presidents in light of the Constitution.
Students will engage with:
▪ 15 ready-to-use, interactive lesson plans
▪ Strong focus on primary source activities
▪ Solid content including historical narrative in each lesson
▪ Scholarly thematic essays that introduce each unit
▪ Contemporary application highlighted with an “Issues Endure” portal in each unit
James Madison was the shortest President at 5'4". He probably weighed less than 100lbs, and was sickly throughout his life.