Intro.2.2.1 The Constitution's Basic Principles: Overview

Drawing inferences from the design of the Constitution gives rise to some of the most important relationships that the Constitution establishes—the relationships among the three branches of the federal government (commonly referred to as the separation of powers or checks and balances);1 the relationship between the federal and state governments (known as federalism); and the relationship between the government and the people.2 This section discusses the three essential features or parts that make up the Constitution.


  1.  Jump to essay-1Separation of powers refers to the concept of divided powers, whereas checks and balances refers to the tool by which the various branches can intervene and limit the powers of another branch.
  2.  Jump to essay-2Charles L. Black, Jr., Structure and Relationship in Constitutional Law 7 (1969).