The Constitution EXPLAINED

iCivics presents a comprehensive, short-form video series explaining the text, history, and relevance of the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, and additional amendments.

Developed in partnership with the Center for Civic Education, and with the invaluable contributions of constitutional scholar Linda R. Monk, JD.

This video series was made possible by Kenneth C. Griffin.

View All 35 Videos

Our videos are assignable and end with call-to-action questions, prompting learners to further explore the topics covered in the video through a modern lens. Click on each category to see its related videos, and click on the video thumbnail to watch the full clip. You can also autoplay each category’s videos using our YouTube playlists and download transcripts for the videos here.

We the People – The Preamble to the Constitution is the mission statement of the United States government. In just one sentence, the Preamble expresses the source of the Constitution’s power and summarizes its goals.

Constitutional Convention – The Constitution was created by a convention that met in Philadelphia in May 1787 to amend the Articles of Confederation, the nation’s first constitution.

Foundations of the Constitution – The structure of the Constitution is built on three key principles: federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances.

The People’s Branch – Article I of the Constitution lays out the structure of the legislative branch, the branch that makes the laws.

The Dos and Don’ts of Congress – Article I of the Constitution grants powers to Congress and also sets limitations.

Who Chooses the President? – Article II of the Constitution creates the office of the President of the United States (POTUS), determines how they are selected, and states the oath of office where they swear to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Faithfully Execute – Article II of the Constitution gives powers to the president with the responsibility to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” including the most important – the Constitution itself.

The Presidency Changes – The 20th, 22nd, and 25th Amendments changed the office of the president.

The Least Dangerous Branch – Article III of the Constitution established judicial power – including judicial review – and life tenure for judges.

Full Faith and Credit – Article IV of the Constitution regulates the relationships between the states.

The Supreme Law of the Land – The Supremacy Clause in Article VI makes federal law “the supreme law of the land” over state law.

The Secret Sauce – Article V allows for peaceful change through constitutional amendments.

Ratification – In order to officially become law, the Constitution had to be ratified, or approved, by the states.

Freedom of Religion – The First Amendment protects freedom of religion by preventing an established or official faith and supporting free exercise of religion.

Freedom of Expression – The First Amendment protects freedom of speech and of the press to help Americans govern themselves.

Freedom of Assembly and Petition – The First Amendment protects the freedoms of assembly and petition.

To Keep and Bear Arms – The Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms

My Home is My Castle – The Third and Fourth Amendments protect privacy in the home.

Due Process of Law – Due process of law under the Fifth Amendment requires fair rules in the legal system.

Presumed Innocent – Due process of law under the Fifth Amendment helps protect fairness in the criminal justice system.

The Right to a Fair Trial – The Sixth and Seventh Amendments protect many of the rights needed to have a fair trial.

Cruel and Unusual – The Eighth Amendment limits unjust and inhumane punishments for crimes.

Unlisted Rights – The Ninth Amendment protects rights that are not specifically listed in the Bill of Rights.

States’ Rights – The Tenth and Eleventh Amendments protect the powers of the states.

Abolishing Slavery – The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.

Defining Citizenship – The Fourteenth Amendment defined citizenship in the Constitution.

Expanding the Bill of Rights – The Fourteenth Amendment nationalized the Bill of Rights.

Equal Protection of the Laws – The Fourteenth Amendment applies equal protection of the law.

Votes for All Men – The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited discrimination in voting based on race.

The Income Tax – The Sixteenth Amendment made income taxes an official part of the Constitution.

Prohibition and Repeal – The Eighteenth and Twenty-First Amendments regulated the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol in the United States.

Votes for Women – The Nineteenth Amendment protected the right to vote for women nationwide.

Votes for D.C. – The Twenty-Third Amendment allowed citizens in the nation’s capital to vote for President.

No Tax on Voting – The Twenty-Fourth Amendment banned poll taxes in federal elections.

Votes for Young People – The Twenty-Sixth Amendment protected the right to vote for citizens between the ages of 18 to 21.

Download Video Transcripts

“I’m really excited about this collaboration between iCivics and the Center for Civic Education. These quick videos will enable teachers to bring experts in the field into our classroom and allow us to explore different topics related to the Constitution in a nonpartisan manner. It’ll be an invaluable resource to all civics teachers and also citizens to watch and learn about our government.”
~ Katie Boland, AP Government and We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution teacher

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