How American Constitutionalism Prevents Tyranny

Essential Question

How does the Constitution Prevents Tyranny?

How American Constitutionalism Prevents Tyranny?

Activity 1: Constitution Mini-Q

Mini Q-How Did The Constitution Guard Against Tyranny.pdf

The following principles are embodied in the Constitution in order to prevent tyranny, protect the ideals of self-government, and individual rights.


The government’s power must be limited by a foundation of law with checks and balances


The power of government is shared between state governments and a strong, representative national (federal) government. This ensures neither government has all the power.

Dual Sovereignty

Federal and state laws have separate areas of influence and jurisdiction (authority). While citizens are subject to and must obey both sets of laws, state laws govern many areas where federal lawmaking does not apply. Over time, the concept of dual sovereignty has changed with evolving interpretations of constitutional law

Separation of Powers

The power of the government is separated into three different groups so one group does not have all the power. Three branches of government – executive, legislative, and judicial. They each govern separate areas (leadership command, lawmaking, and criminal justice) in order to prevent one person or group from abusing power and having too much power.

Checks and Balances

Each of the three branches of government makes sure the others are working properly. Each branch of government has powers over the other branches that prevent the other branch from gaining too much power or correct an abuse of power.

Majority Rule

Decisions are made by a majority. The rights of the minority are protected by a Bill of Rights, and by the accountability of elected representatives

Activity 2: How does the Constitution prevent tyranny?

Using the information from this lesson, answer the questions in a thinking map. Complete this assignment digitally or on paper. It will be collected in your portfolio.

Discussion Questions

  • What is Federalism? How does it guard against tyranny?

  • What is Separation of Powers? How does it guard against tyranny?

  • What is Checks and Balances? How does it guard against tyranny?

  • Which principle in the Mini-Q do you think was the most important in guarding against tyranny?

  • Which principle not in the Mini-Q do you think was the most important in guarding against tyranny?

Activity 3: Outline an essay on how the Constitution guards against tyranny.

Essay Outline

Extension Activities