AP Gov't Unit I: The Constitution and the Legislative Branch

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Date Due


Key Concepts to Master
Reflections on Locke, Voltaire, Montesquieu and Rousseau are due



  • The key elements of the organization of the Constitutional Convention
  • The basics of the Virginia and New Jersey Plans for Representation, and the compromises necessary for resolution of the representation issue
  • The reasons for the struggle over ratification and it's eventual outcome
pp. #123-131
  • The requirements for membership in the House and Senate
  • The terms of service in each house, as well as the senate
  • The process and politics involved with congressional districts and "gerrymandering
Mr. Smith Response is Due
Speech Research
Please Remember that in writing your speech you should:
  1. Make a big, clear, opening statement: "I am here today to speak in strong support of (opposition to)…"
  2. State your big overarching reason (e.g. “This threatens the daily lives of millions of Americans…”
  3. Break your smaller points (job loss, personal safety, civil rights) down into 2-3 paragraphs that support your big reason
  4. Repeat your position and big reason - Close Hard!



  • The rationale behind the separation of powers into three branches of government
  • The basic powers of each of the three branches of government
  • The ways that conflicts over the use of powers can rise up between the three branches
Bring your book to class
  • The purpose of house rules and committees in the process of law making
  • The roles of House leadership in the law making process

Simulation Packet is Due

  • The key differences between the rules and leadership of the House and the Senate
  • The scheduling of bills in the Senate and the use of the filibuster
  • The purpose and role of various congressional committees
  • The reasons why committee membership is so important to members of congress
  • The major legislative powers that Congress has, and examples of the ways that they have used them in the past
  • The major non-legislative powers of congress and example of the ways that they have been used in the past

  • The major ways that the Constitution places Congress and the President at odds with each other
  • The steps Presidents can take to rein in Congress and the role Congress has in limiting the Emergency powers of the President
This unit focuses on two major aspects of the AP exam: Constitutional Underpinnings and Congress.  Here are the big picture topics for each that are critical to understand:

Constitutional Underpinnings:
  • Philosophers: Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, etc.
  • Background of the Constitution (Causes, Convention, Ratification, Federalists, etc.)
  • Federalism (types, types of powers, etc.)
  • Separation of Powers
  • Checks and Balances
  • Theories of Democracy
  • Requirements for service, makeup of each house, etc.
  • Role of Leadership
  • Role of Committees
  • Bill to Law
  • Congress vs. Executive Branch

Unit I Test 

Possible Test Essays include:

Group A (you will choose one from this group)

  • Describe the ways in which the ideas of enlightenment thinkers are closely connected to our national government.  How did these ideas, in combination with the conditions of British colonial rule and the failures of the Articles of Confederation, shape the creation of the U.S. Constitution?
  • Discuss the separation of powers between the three branches of our federal government. Use specific historical examples to illustrate how our system of checks and balances functions.  Be sure to discuss the importance of federalism in its various forms.

Group B (you will answer this question, no choices here...)

  • Describe the organization of the United States congress. Be sure to include requirements of service, leadership roles, the importance of committee work, the reelection process, and the process required for a bill to become a law.