Lesson 4: “Congress, the President, and the Constitution: Then and Now” (Grades 8-12)
Background: These days, when people in this country and around the world think of the United States of America, they think of the President as his is the face and the name most often associated with our government and country. Unfortunately for whoever is occupying the role of president, just because they appear to have power does not make it so.
In constructing the document that would serve as the foundation of our government, one that has lasted longer than any other of its kind, the Framers’ were keenly aware that they had to create a more centralized government, but one that did not put all of its power with one person or one branch. Even in creating a government with three branches that have multiple checks and balances upon one another, it is very clear that it is the legislative branch that the Framers’ intended to be the centerpiece within which the bulk of true power rests.
This lesson will give your students the chance to compare and contrast Articles I and II of the Constitution, and the powers delegated to both the legislative and executive branches. Students will deeply examine the historic and current relationship between Congress and the President and how power and influence have seemed to ebb and flow between them over more than 200 years, including a look at the War Powers Act and how that has impacted the push-pull between Congress and the President, looking at some case studies from the past 35 years.
Objective: Students will be able to identify and explain the major powers granted to the Congress in the Constitution, as well as talk about the Framers’ intentions in creating a government where the legislative branch was meant to dominate, how more power has flowed to the executive branch over time, and the push-pull of power between Congress and the President over the past eighty years.
DCPS Social Studies Standards covered:
US History Content Standards covered:
Virginia History and Social Studies Content Standards covered:
Maryland State Social Studies Curriculum Standards covered (grades 8-12):