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date: 05 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with an examination of the basic structure and institutional design of the U.S. Constitution from a top-down perspective, focusing on public officials led by the president and members of Congress—their number, the jurisdiction they represent, how they are chosen, and the length of their terms. It then emphasizes the central importance of a bottom-up perspective by considering how the constitutional structure drives and is driven by the actions and inactions of the populace, the dynamics of participation. The discussion begins by assessing the structure and substance of the U.S. Constitution and the advantages and disadvantages of confederation, citing the protection of slavery and the Bill of Rights as examples of the interaction among substance, process, and confederation. The chapter also explores the interaction between institutional design and the bottom-up forces of political participation, paying particular attention to the choices made by the Framers of the Constitution.

Keywords: Constitution, president, Congress, constitutional structure, confederation, slavery, Bill of Rights, political participation, courts, judicial review

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