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US Government

Branches of government

Joseph Gumm

on 4 February 2016

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Transcript of US Government

Three Branches
US Government
To make laws
To interpret laws
Federal, not state courts
a.k.a. Congress
Two houses - to act as a check on one another
Equal representation
Based on population
House of Representatives
Seats are apportioned according to population
Reapportionment - based on
changes in population
Size of the House grew until 1929
- capped at 435 members
435 members
2-year terms
At least 25 years old
Must live in the district
he or she represents
Re-drawing the lines of the districts
Drawing district lines to the advantage of the political
party in control of the State's legislature
Pack opposing voters into the
fewest number of districts
Spread out opposing voters as
thinly as possible
100 members - 2 per state
6-year term - 1/3 of Senate
elected every two years
Originally elected by state legislatures -
17th Amendment - 1912 - elected by voters
What potential problem could arise
from the original arrangement?
The "Millionaires Club" - wealthy
party and business leaders
At least 30 years old
Roles of a Congressperson
1. Legislator
2. Representative of his constituents
3. Committee member
4. Servant of her constituents
5. Politician
What is the thinking behind voting?
As a trustee
Decide each issue based on its merits
As a delegate
Vote how your constituents want you to
A combination of the other three
Vote in line with party platform
As a politico
As a partisan
Which factor is most influential?
What powers does Congress have?
Strict constructionists - Thomas Jefferson
- very limited interpretation of Constitution
Liberal constructionists - Alexander Hamilton
- broad interpretation of Constitution
Powers of Congress
Expressed Powers
Power to Tax
Power to Borrow Money
Power to Regulate Trade
Power to Coin Money
War Powers
Other Powers:
Post Offices
Copyrights and Patents
Weights and Measures
Eminent Domain
The House can bring charges; the Senate can try impeachment cases.
People to Know in Congress
Speaker of the House
- Elected at beginning of term
- Leader of majority party
- 2nd in line of presidential
President of the Senate
- US Vice President
- Less powerful than SoH
- May vote only to break a tie
Paul Ryan
Joe Biden
President pro tempore
- When the VP is absent
- Usually Senate's longest
serving member
- 3rd in line of pres. succession
Orrin Hatch
Floor leaders - majority and minority
Whips - majority and minority
Committee chairmen
How does a bill become a law?
aka The President
Roles of the President
1. Chief of state
2. Chief executive
3. Chief administrator
4. Chief diplomat
5. Commander-in-chief
6. Chief legislator
7. Chief of party
8. Chief citizen
35 years old
Natural born citizen
Reside within US for at least 14 years
Oldest President?
Youngest President?
Youngest Elected President?
Maximum of 2 terms
Who was elected to more than 2 terms?
Vice President
2 formal duties:
1. Preside over the Senate
2. Help decide if president is disabled.
Powers of the President
Article II of Constitution
Oath of office - execute the law
Ordinance power - executive orders
- like a law
Appointment power - approved by Senate
Removal power - in general, those he appoints
Diplomatic and Military Powers
Make treaties - approved by Senate
Recognize other countries
Legislative and Judicial Powers
Message power - Recommend legislation
Veto power - can be overridden by
2/3 vote of Congress
Reprieve - postpone a sentence
Pardon - legally forgive a crime
Commutation - reduce length of sentence
Amnesty - blanket pardon to a group of law-breakers
The Federal Bureaucracy
Benefits of Bureaucracy
Hierarchical authority
- Ease decision-making process
Job specialization
- Focus on specialized skills
Formalized rules
- Work with some speed, precision
The Cabinet - advisers to the President
Foreign Affairs and National Security
State Department
- Secretary of State
- Ambassadors
- UN Representative
Defense Department
- Secretary of Defense
- Joint Chiefs of Staff
Director of National Intelligence
- National Security Agency
Dept. of Homeland Security
- Fight terrorism
NASA - space exploration
Foreign Policy Concepts
Isolationism - avoid getting involved
- Helpful when new and weak
- Monroe Doctrine - stay in your own
- Roosevelt Corollary - police of Western
- WWI - spread democracy
- WWII - total war
- Cold War
Collective Security - United Nations
Deterrence - nukes, economic
Containment - keep Communism
bottled up
War on Terror
The United Nations
Exclusive vs. Concurrent
Only in federal courts vs. both state and federal
Original vs. Appellate
Case is first heard vs. on appeal
Appointed by President - approved by Senate
Inferior Courts
District Courts
Original jurisdiction
Courts of Appeals
Appellate jurisdiction
Supreme Court
Judicial Review
Is a law constitutional?
1803 - Marbury v. Madison
- Majority Opinion - based on precedent
- Concurring Opinion - for emphasis
- Dissenting Opinion - do not agree
A commitment to freedom - codified in Bill of Rights
- Civil liberties vs. civil rights
- Relative, not absolute
- 14th Amendment - Due Process Clause
- Things not incorporated in the 14th - states can deny those rights
Freedom of Expression
1st and 14th Amendments
- Prohibit an "establishment of religion"
- Prohibit gov't interference in "free exercise" of religion
Religion and Education
Separation of Church and State
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of Speech and Press
- Protect unpopular views
- Not unbridled freedom - no slander, libel, false advertising, seditious speech
- Does not allow prior restraint
What about flag burning?
Freedom of Assembly and Petition
- Civil disobedience - not protected
- Can regulate time-place-manner, but not content
Due process - gov't must act fairly, in accord with established rules
Privacy - Roe v. Wade - abortion allowed
Police power
- Must have probable cause
- Warrant - prevent unlawful search and seizure
- Habeas corpus - prevent unlawful arrests
Grand jury - indictment - formal accusation
Double jeopardy - can't be tried twice for the same crime
Speedy and Public Trial
Right to an attorney
Pleading the 5th Amendment - prevent self-incrimination
Miranda Rule - informed of rights
8th Amendment - forbids cruel and unusual punishment
Capital punishment - death penalty
Treason - only crime defined in Constitution, only committed in wartime
Is diversity in society a blessing?
Discrimination - bias, unfairness

Segregation - "separate but equal"
- Brown v. Board of Education - inherently unequal

Affirmative Action - taking positive steps to remedy
past discriminations

Naturalization - becoming a US citizen
Illegal immigration - undocumented persons in US
- What is your opinion on this issue?
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