Simulated Congressional Hearing Questions Level II
Unit One - What is Government?
- John Locke was an English philosopher who thought about why it was necessary to
have a government.
What did Locke think would happen without govermnent?
What did John Locke believe to be the purpose of government?
Do you think government might have purposes that Locke did not mention? Explain
- The Founders were concerned with how to preserve a republican form of
According to the Founders, what was republican government?
What weaknesses did the Founders think would lead to the failure of republican
How did the Founders think these weaknesses could be prevented? Do you think the
Founders' solutions were correct? Why or why not?
- All nations have a constitution. However, all nations do not have constitutional
What is a constitutional government?
What parts of our Constitution indicate whether the United States is or is not a
Give an example of a nation in today's world that you think is not a constitutional
government. Give reasons for your choice.
Unit Two - What experiences shaped the Founders' thinking about government?
- The Declaration of Independence told the world why the Americans wanted to free
themselves from British rule. It stated the ideas of good government that the Founders
Using the Declaration as your source, in your own words describe what these
principles of good government are.
Where did the Founders get these ideas?
Do you think these principles are still valid today? Why or why not?
- Americans had been colonists- of Great Britain for over one hundred and fifty years.
During that time they had considerable experience with governing themselves.
What were some of the important characteristics of the colonial governments?
What ideas about government did Americans use when they fdrmed their own state
What problems existed in most state governments?
- By the late 1780s, many Founders believed that the Articles of Confederation were
not working well.
What were some of the achievements of the Congress under the Articles of
What shortcomings did many Founders see in the Articles of Confederation?
What arguments could you have made in support of the Articles?
Unit Three - What happened at the Philadelphia Convention?
- Because of different economic systems, Northern and Southern states had different
interests. These conflicting interests led to disagreements at the Philadelphia
Describe at least two disagreements between Northern and Southern states at the
What parts of the Constitution are the result of compromises that settled the
disagreements between the Northern and Southern states?
Do you think the Framers should have made these compromises? Why or why not?
- Article II of the Constitution lists the powers of the President of the United States.
Describe some of the powers the Constitution gives to the President. Give examples
of how presidents have actually used these powers.
Some of the opponents of the Constitution feared the President would become a king
and a tyrant. Why did they think this? Do you think their fears were justified?
Are there any powers you would like to see added to the presidency? Are there any
powers now granted to the presidency that you think should be omitted? Explain your
- Several Framers refused to sign the Constitution in September, 1787. They, along
with others who opposed the ratification of the Constitution, were called Anti-
What reasons did they give for their opposition to the Constitution?
To what extent do you agree with the Anti-Federalists' views? Why?
Do you believe that American history since 1787 has justified the Anti-Federalists'
fears? Why or why not?
Unit Four - How was the Constitution used to establish our government?
- One of the enduring contributions of the Framers to government was the creation of the federal system.
Judicial review is an important part of our constitutional system of government.
- What is a federal system of government? Compare it with a unitary or a confederation
system of government.
- How are powers distributed between the states and the national government under our
federal system? Give examples.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the federal system? Give some current
Political parties are an important part of our political system today. Yet they are not
mentioned in the Constitution.
- How did the Supreme Court acquire the power of judicial review?
- Do you think the Supreme Court should have the power to declare an act of Congress
unconstitutional? Why or why not?
- How does judicial review protect the rights of the minority?
- Why did the Framers fear political parties?
- Why and how did political parties develop?
- Do political parties play a useful role today? Why or why not?
Unit Five - How does the Constitution protect our basic rights?
- The very first amendment added to the Constitution in 1791 contains guarantees of freedom of religion.
There has been controversy as to whether young people should have all the rights to due process that adults have.
- Why did the Founders think freedom of religion was so important?
- Explain the difference between the establishment and free exercise clauses.
- Do you think limitations should ever be imposed on the free exercise of one's
religious beliefs? Explain your answers.
The First Amendment states that laws shall not be passed which abridge freedom of speech.
- What is the right to due process? Give examples of due process rights protected by
- Do you think persons under the age of 18 who are accused of crimes should have the
same due process rights as adults? Why or why not?
- Should school officials have the right to open a student's locker without a search
warrant? Why or why not?
- Why did the Founders think freedom of speech was so important?
- Do you believe there are times when freedom of expression should be limited?
Explain your response.
- Should a public speaker who calls for violent action be protected by the First
Amendment while an audience member who takes such an action is sent to prison?
Why or why not?
Unit Six - What are the responsibilities of citizens?
- The United States has one of the lowest percentages of eligible voters who actually
vote of any democratic country.
Many people believe: that an- informed citizenry is essential if democracy is to
- Would you like to see more eligible people vote? Why or why not?
- Why do you think so many peoplein the United States fail to vote?
- Some countries fine a citizen who fails to vote. Would you favor such a law in the
United States? Why or why not?
Voting is only one of the ways a citizen may participate in politics. Many other
activities are available.
- Should people be required to pass periodic citizenship tests in order to maintain their
citizenship? Why or why not?
- Would you favor requiring literacy tests, fairly administered, before allowing citizens
to vote? Why or why not?
- What activities besides voting are available to citizens?
- Which of these activities, if any, do you think is most useful? Explain your answer.
- How should a citizen decide which of these various activities to participate in?