The structure of the Constitution was set out to establish a national government that could not be challenged by an individual state. It was to oversee and govern the nation but with forethought not allowed absolute power. The Framers obtained this by instituting the separation of powers among three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. The credence of the Framers’ came about after experiencing the concentration of authority during the Revolutionary period, when legislature had the authority. By separating the power and allocated authority, it prevented one section of the government from overpowering another. This balancing of power is the main strength of the Constitution that has allowed it to last over time.
Another structure of the Constitution provides each branch of power to check on the other through “checks and balances”. As James Madison states in The Federalist, No. 51, “…ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” This is where the overlapping of each branch occurs. This is a major strength that allows Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court the right and power to oversee each other and not allow one section to have all the say. Along with the voting structure, by whom and time of vote, this also allows each branch to be politically independent from each other.
As for the weakness of the Constitution all that can be said is that until the placement of a few necessary Amendments, it only protected the rights of some people, not all the people. However, thankfully, the Framers realized that things do change and had the futuristic reasoning to implement Article V, which empowered the government of the future to make changes that fit with the issues at hand.
Overall, the magnitude of a five-parchment document that had the ability to withstand a civil war, go through two World wars, depressions and keep up with the advancement of our culture, is a feat in itself. I believe the Framers of the Constitution would be amazed at how well it has held up and adapted through all of the changes to this country.
Breckenridge, Adam C. “The History of The Constitution of the United States.” American Government, Annual Edition 2001: pages 10-11.
Burns, James. Government by the People. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 2001.
Young, William D.. Source Readings for American Government. Orlando: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999.