The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. The Constitution originally consisted of seven Articles. The first three Articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislature, consisting of the bicameral Congress; the executive, consisting of the President; and the judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. The fourth and sixth Articles frame the doctrine of federalism, describing the relationship between State and State, and between the several States and the federal government. The fifth Article provides the procedure for amending the Constitution. The seventh Article provides the procedure for ratifying the Constitution.
Bill of Rights
The National Archives displays the Bill of Rights as one of the three “Charters of Freedom”. The original intent of these first ten Amendments was to restrict Congress from abusing its power. For example, the First Amendment – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” – was ratified by the states before all states had, of their own accord, disestablished their official churches.
The Federalist Papers argued that amendments were not necessary to adopt the Constitution. But without the promise in their ratification conventions, Massachusetts, Virginia and New York could not have joined the Union as early as 1789. James Madison, true to his word, managed the proposed amendments through the new House of Representatives in its first session. The amendments that became the Bill of Rights were ten proposals of the twelve that Congress sent out to the states in 1789.