The U.S. Constitution is a compact, or an agreement of the people of this land. It sets forth certain basic rights of the people that cannot be taken away and defines the powers of the governmental authority. The U.S. Constitution truly is the foundation of our entire legal system. Some people would say that the rights we enjoy in this country are natural rights, and that the Constitution is simply a clarification of those rights and a limitation on the power of the government to infringe on those rights. Others say that the Constitution itself is the actual source of the rights. But that theoretical argument is probably of little significance to the reader. What is important to remember about the Constitution is that it does set forth the essential composition of our government and how it can interact with us as citizens. Try a quick test of your knowledge of constitutional law at this point. Suppose your next door neighbor breaks into your home looking for something that he thinks you may have stolen from him. The neighbor conducts a thorough and obviously unreasonable search of your premises without a warrant. Is that a constitutional violation? Constitutional violations can only be committed by the government or its representatives. Hopefully you said "no" to answer that question. The Constitution is a compact between the people and the government. Constitutional violations can only be committed by the government or its representatives. As such, one citizen violating the rights of another citizen is not a constitutional violation at the federal or state level. Your neighbor has violated state law, and he can be charged with that state law violation and also could be sued civilly for trespassing and for damaging your property. The most important point to keep in mind regarding the U.S. Constitution is that it is the basic framework or foundation upon which our legislative, judicial, and executive branches are built. It defines certain basic rights that the people have and that no governmental authority can take away. The framers of the U.S. Constitution wished to define the authority of government and then place in the people all rights that were not specifically bestowed upon the government.
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