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Essential Documents of the American Government

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1 Essential Documents of the American Government
Government – Libertyville HS

2 Structure of Constitution
Seven Articles 1st article = powers of Legislative branch 2nd article = powers of Executive branch 3rd article = powers of Judicial branch 4th article = Relations among the states 5th article = How to amend the Constitution 6th article = Supremacy of National Law; Oaths 7th article = Ratification (approval) of Constitution

3 US Constitution In 1787, after months of debate & compromise, the Constitution was approved Document of Compromises Legislature: how composed? Executive: direct or indirect election? Judicial: power + life appointments?! Slavery: how to avoid disunion with South? At the Constitutional Congress, 1787

4 Compromise: The Legislature
Virginia Plan Base representation on population Favored big states New Jersey Plan Base representation equally, by state Favored small states Connecticut Compromise Bicameral (two chamber) legislature

5 Compromise: Direct Election or Indirect Selection of President?
Why didn’t the Founders want direct election of the president? Difficulty of nationwide vote Distance, Difficulty of travel Corruption “Favorite Son” concern Fear of direct democracy

6 Executive (s)election
Benefits of Electoral College Requires President to have support across the country, not just one region Contributes to political stability of country by favoring two party system We ARE a federal system…!!! 50 state elections plus one election by Electoral College = President

7 Compromise: The Judiciary
United States Supreme Court (USSC) the supreme law in country, but… Congress creates all other courts and establishes which courts get jurisdiction And the Executive appoints all justices / judges Idea = checks / balances

8 Compromise: Slavery New England states wanted to outlaw slavery completely Southern states wanted to count every slave a person for representation in national legislature

9 Compromise: Slavery 1) Slaves would count as 3/5 a person for purposes of counting population to determine how many House of Representatives a state received (who benefited?) 2) Congress could not pass a law outlawing slavery until after 1808 (who benefited?) 3) Fugitive slaves escaping to a non-slave state had to be returned to their home state, if captured (who benefited?)

10 Constitutional Principles
+ Popular Sovereignty Separation of Powers Limited Government Checks and Balances + Federalism Judicial Review

11 Popular Sovereignty (PS)
National government gets its power from… the PEOPLE! “We the People” – preamble to the Constitution Declaration of Independence = failure of Brits to consider rights of colonists People are the ONLY source of governmental power

12 Limited Government (LG)
Government may exercise ONLY those powers given to it by the people Government must obey the law (b/c the law comes from the people) “Rule of Law” Government officials are subject to same laws / rules as ordinary citizens “Government of laws” vs. “Government of man” (i.e. laws don’t apply to dictator)

13 PS + LG Why do these two principles go together?
If government gets its power from the people, and the people are its only source of power, then the government is one of LIMITED powers. The government is not above the law because the PEOPLE are the source of laws. Thus, the government must follow the rules, just like everybody else.

14 Separation of Powers (SOP)
The Constitution separates powers of government (derived from who?) among three co-equal branches of government Article I, section I = “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in Congress…” Article II, Section I = “The Executive power shall be vested in a President of the USA” Article III, Section I = “The judicial power of the US shall be vested in one supreme court . . .”

15 Separation of Powers Imagine that a bucket held all the power the people had, due to popular sovereignty…. …and from that bucket of the People’s Power you were to create a government…

16 Separation of Powers Bucket One: Legislative Power
You would pour that power into three additional buckets: Bucket One: Legislative Power Bucket Two: Executive Power Bucket Three: Judicial Power

17 Checks and Balances (C&B)
Further limits on each branch’s powers are explicit restraints, held by other branches Idea of framers was to balance the operations of government by dividing power up among branches, to check each other (no one branch had too much power)

18 Examples of C&B Congress makes law ... President declares war...
President enters into treaty… President names a federal judge... . . . But president can veto! . . . But Congress must approve AND fund! . . . But Senate ratifies! . . . But Senate “advises and consents” to choice!

19 Why do these two go together?
SOP + L&G Why do these two go together? Two sides of the same coin; idea of both is to limit the power that each branch has, so no one branch can dominate the government and become dictators.

20 SOP + C&B Bucket One: Legislative Power Bucket Two: Executive Power
Or, in terms of our bucket analogy…. Bucket One: Legislative Power Bucket Two: Executive Power Bucket Three: Judicial Power …a spoonful of each bucket is shared with the other buckets!

21 Federalism Distribution of power of government on a territorial basis
National government has some powers, states have other powers Framers wanted to assure that local control over local matters remained with the states BUT they wanted a central government that was strong enough to act for the entire country

22 Federalism: National Government’s Powers
Express Powers = contained in Constitution Example: Congress’ power to tax (I, VIII) Implied Powers = reasonably suggested within Constitution Example: Congress’ power to create the Internal Revenue Service (I, VIII, xviii) Inherent Powers = belong to national government because it is a sovereign nation Example: Central government’s power to enter into treaties, control borders What are Reserved Powers? Powers of the States – all power that doesn’t go to central government as express, implied, or inherent power

23 Federalism: Floor and Ceiling?!
Federalism as a ceiling Laws of the national legislature can also EXCLUDE states from regulating something Ex” private sector labor unions, health insurance and pension regulations are areas of NATIONAL regulation Federalism as a floor Laws of the national legislature establish a floor under which states cannot go Ex: with min. wage, drunk driving laws, states can adopt MORE STRICT laws than the national standard

24 Principle of Judicial Review
Origins Not in Constitution Marbury v. Madison summary Made judicial branch equal to other branches by giving it the power to decide whether a law, regulation or decision of the other 2 branches is constitutional

25 Federalist Papers ( ) With Constitution complete, persuasion began “Federalist Papers” were essays published in NYC newspapers during debate to ratify Constitution Authors Hamilton (wrote 52) Madison (wrote 28) John Jay (wrote 5 – pneumonia) Why were FP important? One of the most imp. sources for interpreting and understanding the original intent of the Constitution Convinced a lot of people to support Const. despite legit concerns (big one = lack of protection of individual from government, in Constitution)

26 Civil Liberties contained in Constitution
Prohibited ex post facto laws Laws that punish actions that, when committed, weren’t against the law Prohibited bills of attainder A law that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial Guaranteed habeus corpus Protect against illegal detention Person must be told why they are being held

27 Bill of Rights Federalists did not include a list of rights of citizens This was best argument against ratification Several states demanded a bill of rights as a condition of ratification (Mass., NH, VA, NY, NC) Signing the Constitution, 1787

28 Bill of Rights First Congress met in 1789
James Madison, a Federalist, wrote the Bill of Rights Madison wrote 12 amendments; 11 were ratified (first 10 amendments ratified by 1791; 27th Amendment, limiting congressional pay raises, ratified in 1992) (not adopted dealt w/ 1780s apportionment) James Madison Copy of Bill of Rights

29 Bill of Rights The Bill of Rights was intended to PROTECT THE PEOPLE FROM THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT!!!


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