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Unit Two – Lesson Eleven

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1 Unit Two – Lesson Eleven
What questions did the Framers consider in designing the 3 branches of the national government?

2 The Preamble We the people (of the United States) in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America

3 What did the delegate think about the balance of power among the branches of government?
Many thought an IMBALANCE OF POWER between the branches would bring tyranny The King had abused the excessive power he possessed Parliament controlled the other branches, thus could abuse their power Creating a weak executive created other problems as well The challenge to the Framers was to balance the power given to the federal government They created 3 branches with SEPARATED POWERS (aka “checks and balances”)


5 Questions about Legislative Power
Congress intended to be a “deliberative body” – a place to debate issues and avoid hasty decisions A Bicameral structure made it difficult to pass laws, especially at the whim of the majority The power to make laws is the greatest power of the government – wanted to avoid the corruption of the Parliament (getting appointments for doing what the King wanted) The Virginia Plan would have given Congress “plenary” powers meaning unlimited and undefined – including vetoing state laws The New Jersey Plan had more defined powers for Congress The Constitution had “ENUMERATED POWERS” – powers specifically listed in Article 1 Section 8 “Necessary and Proper Clause” gave Congress the power to make all laws needed to fulfill the 17 enumerated powers

6 Questions about Executive Powers
The Framers wanted to give the executive branch enough power and independence to fulfill its responsibilities The Executive needed to be able to act quickly when necessary to protect the country, preserve the peace or in international relations The Framers DID NOT want to give the executive so much power that they could abuse it 1 or more chief executives? Decided a single chief executive would be easier for Congress to watch over as well as having executive departments to further break apart the powers How long should the chief executive serve? 7 years was proposed but thought to be too long 4 years was decided upon Should the chief executive be eligible for reelection? The chief executive should be able to run for reelection (no term limits)

7 How should the President be elected?
The Framers feared the selection of the President would be used to benefit some at the expense of others DIRECT ELECTION: rejected because the Framers did not believe the citizens at large would know the best candidate or that big states could outvote those from small states an gain advantage INDIRECT ELECTION: by state legislatures or Congress rejected because they feared “corruption or self-serving groups.” They also feared Congress could manipulate the President. The Framers included a section saying Congress could neither increase or decrease the President’s salary ELECTORAL COLLEGE: the committee created a new group to select the president, with no ties to any part of the government Watch electoral college clip ( & give handout

8 The Electoral College Organized once every 4 years
Each state would select its “ELECTORS” Each state would receive the same number of electors as they had elected members of Congress (House & Senate) Each Elector would get 2 votes – one of which had to be from a state other than the elector The person who received the majority of votes was President. The person who received the next most votes would be VP If no majority (tie), the House of Representatives would vote for the President and the Senate would vote for the VP Although complicated, it seemed the best solution to choose the best candidate for President. Many believed the House would end up selecting most of the Presidents because few would have national recognition

9 Judicial Powers? A national government needed a court system to decide cases involving its laws Judicial Branch would complete the system of separation of powers Judges should be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate All criminal trials should be trial by jury (important check of power) Only the Supreme Court is created in the Constitution Congress given power to create lower courts ** Judges should be independent of politics. Decisions based on best judgement free from political pressures **Judges should hold office “during good behavior” meaning they could not be removed unless impeached or convicted of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”


11 Checks and Balances – Shared Powers
Some powers shared (by 2 branches) Power to make treaties (executive/legislative) Power to appoint cabinet members and ambassadors (executive/legislative) Some powers shared by 2 levels (state and federal) Power to Tax Power to Borrow Money Establish Courts Regulate Interstate Commerce Provide for the General Welfare

12 How powers were divided
Several KEY Strategies used to “check” powers Veto (President & Legislature have veto power) Appointments (President appoints, Senate approves) Treaties (President makes treaties, Senate confirms) War (President is Commander-in-Chief but Congress has the power to declare war) Impeachment (House brings charges, Senate tries case) Judicial Review (Supreme Court has power to rule acts of government unconstitutional)

13 Reviewing the lesson Why did the delegates enumerate the powers of Congress? Why didn’t they enumerate the powers of the Executive and Judicial Branches? What issues did the delegates have regarding the organization of the Executive branch and how did they resolve these issues? How did the delegates ensure the Executive branch had enough power to fulfill its responsibilities, but not so much power that it could dominate the other branches? What is the Electoral College and why did the delegates decide to create it? The delegates designed the Judicial branch with the goal of making it independent of partisan politics. What constitutional provisions contribute to judicial independence? What constitutional provisions might threaten that independence? Has the checking and balancing relationship among the three branches intended by the Framers been maintained? Explain your answers giving examples

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