Key Constitutional Concepts

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Key Constitutional Concepts (Robe Imbriano, 2007, 60 min)

“Key Constitutional Concepts” is a film meant to enlighten people about the constitution. The film is in three parts, each taking 20 minutes. The first part introduces the constitution, and how it came about as well as why it was created. The second part is about rights of people, which describes the rights of an individual to a lawyer in a trial, using the supreme case of Gideon v. Wainwright. The third examines separating of power using the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co v. Sawyer. The film uses narration by several experts in law explaining each concept of the constitution represented in the film. This does drive the point home, which is making the viewer get a better understanding of the constitution.

Before the constitution was made, countries were ruled by rulers, who very well knew that it required soldiers to maintain order. A government that would be run by people was known never to work. However, the creators of the constitution believed that a constitution would be best. They believed that written down rules would be best to would allow people to disagree, but accept the outcome of the constitution. Before the constitution, the ruler’s words were law, and America was under the colony of the English who taxed them heavily. The state leaders come in to make a constitution that would be used by all the united states. However, in order to prevent one person from having so much power, the rules had to be made, those that would be followed by the rulers. This is the focus on the first part of the film, where the law experts explain each and every concept the creators of the constitution had in mind.

The second part of the film comes in to explain how the right to an attorney came about in America for everybody after a poor man is taken to court accused of stealing change from a vending machine. The poor man had no money to pay a lawyer, but felt all along that it was unfair that the court did not appoint him an attorney to represent him except the representation of the council. This case illustrates the impact a case can have on the whole constitution through the judicial proceedings. During this time, the sixth amendment did provide a right to counsel but did not provide for those who could not afford it. In this part, the film explains the circumstances that led to the provision of an attorney for every body despite their economic background. The film through the decision of the court that the defendant was not facing a capital punishment case, explains that right to an attorney for poor people depended on the nature of the case. After conviction, he appealed to the supreme court, and was allowed the right to an attorney who represented the case batter and found not guilty. However, this was after three years in jail. This went on to become a law in the constitution. This again is well explained through the demonstration of the case proceedings that aired on television.

Finally, the film’s lat part comes in to explain how powers of the president came to be separated to ensure the president did not do anything out of his power. This case laid the basis upon which separation of powers to make decisions during external conflict would be made within the government. This separated the roles of executive, judiciary and the legislature. During this time, America was at war with Korea, and the steel industry was about to go on strike. The president, Mr. Truman, went ahead to seize all the steel mills in united states to stop workers from striking. This way, supply of ammunitions for the soldiers would continue since steel played an important role. The steel industry complained about the president going above his powers and sought injunction in the court. It is through this case that the supreme court had to define the powers of the president to determine whether the president had acted beyond his powers, which was found to be so. The film uses demonstrations of some of the clips taken during this period to explain the separation of the powers between the three arms, where the president would not engage in war without the approval of the congress, while the congress would not make a law if the president does not sign. With such interdependence, the president would not cross his powers.


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