Text 3. Constitution. Bill of Rights. 

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Text 3. Constitution. Bill of Rights.

Read the text and assimilate its information:

In the course of the Convention (May, 1787), the delegates designed a new form of government for the United states. The plan for the government was written in very simple language in a document called the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution set up a federal system is one in which power is shared between a central authority and its constituent parts, with some rights reserved to each. The Constitution also called for the election of a national leader, or president. It provided that federal laws would be made only by a Congress made up of representatives elected by the people. It also provided for a national court system headed by a Supreme Court.

In writing the Constitution, the delegates had to deal with two main fears shared by most Americans.

One fear was that one person or group, including the majority, might become too powerful or be able to seize control of the country and create a tyranny. To guard against this possibility, the delegates set up a government consisting of three parts, or branches, the executive, the legislative and the judicial. Each branch has powers that the others do not have and each branch has a way of counteracting and limiting any wrongful action by another branch.

Another fear was that the new central government might weaken or take away the power of the state government to run their own affairs. To deal with this the Constitution specified exactly what power the central government had and which power was reserved for the states. The states were allowed to run their own governments as they wished, provided that their governments were democratic.

To emphasize its democratic intent, the Constitution opens with a statement, called a Preamble, which makes it clear that the government is set up by “We, the People” and its purpose is to “promote the general welfare and secure blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” (descendants).

Before the new government could become a reality, a majority of the citizens in nine of the 13 states would have to approve it. Those in favour of the adoption of the Constitution argued long and hard in speeches and writing. They finally prevailed, but the states made it clear that one more change would have to be made as soon as the new government was established.

Representatives of various states noted that the Constitution did not have any words guaranteeing the freedoms or the basic rights and privileges of citizens. Though the Convention delegates did not think it necessary to include such explicit guarantees, many people felt that they needed further written protection against tyranny. So, a Bill of rights was added to the Constitution.

Although the world has changed greatly in the past 200 years, it has proved possible for the Constitution to be viewed as living document, one that could be interpreted by scholars and judges who have been called upon to apply its provisions to circumstances unforeseen at the tine it was written.

To all Americans another basic foundation of their representative democracy is the Bill of Rights, adopted in1791.This consists of 10 very short paragraphs which guarantee freedom and individual rights and forbid interference with the lives of individuals by the government. Each paragraph is an Amendment to the original constitution.

In the Bill of Rights, Americans are guaranteed freedom of religion, of speech and of press. They have the right to assemble in public places, to protest government actions and to demand change. They have he right to own weapons if they wish, Because of the Bill of Rights, neither police nor soldiers can stop and search a person without good reason. They also cannot search a person’s home without legal permission from a court to do so.

The Bill of Rights guarantees Americans the right to a speedy trial if accused of a crime. The trial must be by a jury and the accused person must be allowed representation by a lawyer and must be able to call in witnesses to speak for him or her. Cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden.

There were 16 other amendments to the Constitution as of 1991. That is not many changes considering that the constitution was written in 1787. Only a few need to be mentioned here. One forbids slavery and three others guarantee citizenship and full rights to all people regardless of race. Another gives women the right to vote and another lowered the national voting age to 18 years.

Word Check


Ex. 1.Look through the words and say them in English;

завладеть, установить; препятствовать; руководить, вести(дела) намерение, цель; преобладать, победу; точный, явный; собираться


Ex. 2.Match the words from column A with those from B:

1) amendment a) something one may do or have by law, authority, social acceptance
2) tyranny b) alteration to the constitution
3) branch c) kind of government existing when a ruler has complete power, esp. power obtained by force and used unjustly
4) privilege d) promise or undertaking that certain conditions agreed to in a transaction will be fulfilled
5) guarantee e) right or advantage available only to a person, class or rank, or the holder of a certain position
6) right f) division or subdivision of a family, subject of knowledge, etc.




Ex. 1.Suggest the Russian for the following words and sentences:

1. в ходе, в процессе

2. Федеральная система – это такая система, при которой власть разделена между центральным органом и его составляющими подразделениями.

3. Она также предусматривала национальную судебную систему, возглавляемую Верховным Судом.

4. Для принятия мер предосторожности от…

5. Для того, чтобы подчеркнуть свое демократическое намерение, Конституция начинается с Преамбулы…

6. Запрещает вмешательство государства в жизнь граждан

7. Поправка к Конституции

8. Выступать против действий государства

9. Они имеют право владеть оружием, если того желают.

10. Обыскивать жилье человека без официального разрешения

11. Не взирая на расу.


Ex. 2. Continue the sentences as they are given in the text.

  1. The plan for the government was written…
  2. The Constitution provided that federal law…
  3. In writing the Constitution, the delegates…
  4. The Constitution opens with a statement …
  5. Before the new government could become…
  6. Representatives of various states noted…
  7. So, the “Bill of Rights” was…
  8. It consists of …
  9. In the Bill of Rights the Americans are guaranteed…

10. There were 16 other amendments…

Ex. 3. Comment on the statements as true or false. Correct the false ones.

1. The Constitution was aimed to design a new form of government in the USA.

2. The Constitution set up a judicial system with a strong central government.

3. While writing the Constitution, the delegates had to deal with 3 main fears shared by most Americans.

4. The purpose of the Constitution is to “promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”.

5. All the delegates agreed that the Constitution guaranteed the freedoms or the basic rights and privileges of citizens.

6. The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791.

7. It consists of 12 long paragraphs.

8. In the Bill of Rights Americans are guaranteed freedom of religion, of speech and of the press.

9. According to the Bill of Rights Americans have the right to a speedy trial if accused of a crime.

10. There were 15 other amendments to the Constitution as of 1991 and that is not many considering that it was written in 1797.

11. In accordance with one of the amendments, the voting age has changed from 18 to 21.



Ex. 4. Answer the following questions:

1. What did the delegates create in the course of the Convention in 1787?

2. What is a federal system?

3. What were the two main fears the delegates had to deal with?

4. What is the purpose of a preamble which opens the Constitution?

5. Why was the Bill of Rights added to the Constitution?

6. What is the structure of the Bill of Rights?

7. Americans are guaranteed numerous rights and freedoms according to the Bill of Rights, are not they?

8. How many other amendments were there to the Constitution as of 1991?

9. What is the most important of them you think?




Ex. 1. Explain

a) the importance of the adoption of the Constitution in 1787

b) chronology of the Constitution creation


Ex. 2. Work in groups and discuss:

a) the fears which delegates had to deal with in the writing the Constitution.

b) The Bill of Rights as the basic foundation of American representative democracy.

Ex. 3. Write an essay on the topic “The Constitution: a Symbol of Prideand a Force for National Unity”.



Ex. 1. Translate into Russian.

The Constitution of the United States is a truly remarkable document. It was one of the first written constitutions in modern history. The Framers wanted to devise a plan for a strong central government that would unify the country, as well as preserve the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. The document they wrote created a representative legislature, the office of president, a system of courts, and a process for adding amendments. For over 200 years the flexibility and strength of the Constitution has guided the nation’s political leaders. The document has become a symbol of pride and a force for national unity.

When the Constitution reached its bicentennial year in 1989, it inspired a fresh interest in the meaning and significance of the document. Two broadly different views emerged. Some people saw the limitations and problems tat the federal government faced and suggested a new constitutional convention to restructure the government to meet today’s difficult challenges. Others emphasized the remarkable enduring quality of the Constitution and its basic principles that remain important today.

It is likely that if changes are to be made in basic principles of government, they will come by amendment or interpretation. Amendment, however, has historically been approached with caution. The Founders wanted The Constitution to be safe from the unruly passions of the public and schemes of the politicians. When the Supreme court ruled that the burning of the United States flag was a form of free expression protected by the first Amendment, President George Bush sought an amendment out lawing the desecration of the flag. Many viewed this idea as the kind of manipulation that the Framers wanted to prevent when they provided for the amending process.


Ex. 2.Translate into English.

В 1787 году в Филадельфии был созван съезд делегатов то всех штатов. Целью этого съезда была разработка новой формы центрального (национального) правительства. Возглавлять дебаты был приглашен Джоpдж Вашингтон. Было решено утвердить республику с президентом во главе. Съезд также разработал проект первой Конституции, которая была принята в том же году (1787). В соответствии с Конституцией федеральная ( национальная) власть принадлежала центральному правительству, но каждый штат также имел свое правительство, которое не решало проблем национальной важности. Джордж Вашингтон был избран президентом, и 30 апреля 1789 года он принес президентскую присягу защищать Конституцию США.




Unit I



1. What international organizations do you know?

2. Are there any international organizations on the territory of your own country?

3. Do all international organizations serve the needs of the citizens of tie member states? Can there be any conflicts between hem?


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