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Transcript of US Government
What IS government?
Is government necessary?
No government at all is considered "Anarchy."
The Mirriam-Webster dictionary classifies the term as:
"a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority."
Now, what would be the opposite of anarchy?
Again, Mirriam-Webster defines "Dictatorship" as:
"a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique."
Which would be better?
With that act, we dissolved the bonds of government we shared with England.
That meant we needed to find a new form of government. One for ourselves. And we would get to choose!
On July 4th, 1776, the 2nd Continental Congress ratified the "Declaration of Independence."
So, what did we choose?
If you said a "Democracy", you'd be kind of wrong.
We actually live in a "Republic". Which is a form of Democracy, but not a "full Democracy."
And where is our seat of government located:
On the state level?
On the national level?
Why didn't we choose a monarchy?
Our state seat of government is located in
When was it located there?
Why was it decided upon to be there?
Safe from attack from water.
A set of agreed-upon rules were created by congress in 1787 during what was called the "Constitutional Convention."
What was the "Constitution"?
This becomes the "contract" for which all of the states agree upon as a unified nation.
In late 1787, a series of essays were written to convince the state legislatures to agree upon the need for this "contract".
The papers are called, "The Federalist Papers."
Those at the "Constitutional Convention" had some pretty interesting perspectives.
the delegates were not comfortable with "the people" voting for Representatives.
"The people do not want (lack) virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots. In Massachusetts, it had been fully confirmed by experience that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute." - Elbridge Gerry, Massachusetts
Who governs the city of Durham?
Mayor Bill Bell
The new exterior lighting is designed to enhance the visibility of the historic building at night. Designed by the same company that lit the Washington Monument, Statue of Liberty and the White House, the new lighting at Thalian Hall will use 32 energy efficient fixtures that consume approximately the same amount of energy as two household microwaves.
Durham City Council is the legislative body of the city, and is comprised of 7 members, 3 members are elected from specific wards, 3 are at-large members, and the Mayor.
Staggered, non-partisan elections are held every two years.
The Mayor serves a two-year term and Councilmembers serve staggered four-year terms.
Who is the Mayor of Durham?
Where are the offices of government in Wilmington?
There are a lot of places, actually, but many consider
Thalian Hall the governmental "center," as many governmental offices (such as Mayor Saffo's) are located here.
Did you know, that on February 28th, a new series of lights to illuminate Thalian Hall were turned on for the first time?
There are some other facts about Wilmington:
Approximately 1,000 employees
Public safety accounts for almost half of all city staff and 45% of the General Fund
367 miles of roads
289 miles of sidewalks
543 acres of parks
93 acres of landscape/greenways
Durham was named in honor of Dr. Bartlett Leonidas Snipes Durham, (1824-1858), the area’s first physician, a fitting namesake for the future City of Medicine. Dr. Durham transferred about four acres of his land to the North Carolina Railroad Company in the late 1840s for a station.
Like, the City Attorney and City Manager, etc.
Like the mayor, the state of North Carolina also has an elected leader, known as a "Governor".
McRory was the 53rd Mayor of Charlotte, serving seven terms, and is now the 74th Governor of North Carolina.
Let's take a look at the North Carolina Capitol Building!
Some arguments were in support of the people:
It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, that absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for purposes and objects merely personal, such as a thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people. (#4)
The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.
There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed? 62
The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. 51
Now, let's talk about what the Constitution DOES.
We've looked at the preamble, let's take a look at the content of the Constitution!
What components make up our government?
Senators and Representatives (also known as "Congress")
Judges and the judicial system.
In short, the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial
In the first Article of the Constitution, who do you think comes first?
This is first to show that the voice of the people through legislation and representation was more important than the Presidency.
It separates Congress into two parts:
The House of Representatives
And they are located...
Representation was 1:30,000, then was raised to 600,000, but is now capped at 435.
If a vacancy occurs, the state must fill it.
The House is the only part of the government able to “impeach”. It is an accusation of wrongdoing with an intent to remove the individual from office. This was considered a “check” against the “leader” of the country. It was a potent check, and was intended to be used sparingly. Three Presidents have been impeached- Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. But any federal officer can be impeached.
Johnson was acquitted, Nixon resigned, Clinton was acquitted.
But even if a person is accused, they must be put on trial by the Senate (of which there can be only two from each state).
Congressional salaries are paid by the Dept. of Treasury, rather than the states. This was to make sure everyone was paid equally, and didn’t want the states to have undue influence over their representatives. The first congress members were paid $6 every day.
Power to trade with foreign nations, regulate interstate economic activity.
Declaring War. ONLY Congress can declare war.
“The Elastic Clause”, gives Congress the ability to make all laws necessary for the Constitution to work.
Congress can NOT bestow titles of nobility on citizens or non-citizens.
"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."
There was a movement, since called the "Birther Movement" that alleged that the President Obama was not qualified to be President because he had been born in Kenya, and not Hawaii, which he had claimed.
Obama had provided a birth certificate for verification, Hawaiian officials verified the authenticity of the birth certificate, and there were two birth announcements in local papers of the time.
But still, there were people convinced Obama was not a US citizen.
People claimed that the birth certificate was a "short form" birth certificate, and the "long form" was required, despite the fact that non-partisan state officials in Hawaii guaranteed that the short form was legitimate.
Many people turned to the Constitution, which says...
... in order to back up their claims.
But, at the time the Constitution was written, many people were immigrants, and there is no detailed explanation as to what constitutes a "natural born citizen."
So, where do we go?
If you meet certain requirements, you may become a U.S. citizen either at birth or after birth.
To become a citizen at birth, you must:
Have been born in the United States or certain territories or outlying possessions of the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; OR
had a parent or parents who were citizens at the time of your birth (if you were born abroad) and meet other requirements
Or you can become "naturalized", after birth.
Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, was born in Kansas.
The President is elected by the "Electoral College" system, in which each state has "electors" that equal the number of representatives and senators who actually vote for the president.
Most states (except Nebraska and Maine) have a "winner take all" method, which gives all electoral votes to the recipient of the popular vote.
In Nebraska and Maine, it's by popular vote in Congressional districts.
This system was chosen originally, because the framers didn't exactly trust that ordinary citizens could choose the "right" president.
How do you feel about that?
Plus, if the majority of the votes would choose the President, the second place would be Vice President.
In 1804, the 12th Amendment made the President and Vice President the same ticket.
Article II also makes sure that the military was in the control of civilians, so the President becomes the "Commander in Chief" of the military.
He is also able to negotiate treaties (with the approval of the Senate), appoint officials, and is tasked with giving a speech about the state of the Union. This is called...
"The State of the Union"
The Judicial Branch
The last of the major articles we'll be looking at concerns the court system.
Article III states:
"The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish."
"shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office."
In other words, these judges can hold their jobs for life, or until they decide to retire, or if they are impeached.
Throughout our history, only 13 judges have been impeached.
There are no minimum or maximum number of "Justices", though currently, there is one Chief Justice and eight "Associate Justices".
Why this number do you think?
One aspect of Article III concerns "treason".
"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."
"The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."
Essentially, Congress gets to decide the punishment, which ranges from five years in prison, to death.
There ARE such things as state courts.
The differences are:
Federal Courts State Courts
Cases that deal with the constitutionality of a law;
Cases involving the laws and treaties of the U.S.;
Cases involving ambassadors and public ministers;
Disputes between two or more states;
Habeas corpus issues.
Most criminal cases
Probate (involving wills and estates)
Most contract cases
Tort cases (personal injuries)
Family law (marriages, divorces, adoptions), etc
Habeas Corpus, Latin for "that you have the body", was essentially a legal process to ensure that individuals were not unlawfully imprisoned.
Still, the Constitution states that "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
Let's evaluate some Amendments
On January 28th, 2014, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address.
In it, he said...
But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still- and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
The response from the opposing party, the Republicans, was foreseeable...
Randy Weber, Representative from Texas tweeted:
"On floor of house waitin on "Kommandant-in-Chef"... the Socialist dictator who's been feeding the US a line or is it "A-Lying?"
Tom Huelskamp, Representative from Kansas tweeted:
1st Release of Obama speech reads like dictates from a King. All orders he will do to bypass Congress #LawLess
11 Minutes later, he also tweeted:
The new Imperial Presidency-- #Obama will do everything "without legislation" to advance his radical agenda. Guess you deleted Article 1...
What the heck is going on?
What is this talk of going "without legislation"?
Let's shed just a bit of light on the topic.
"He shall, from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient..."
Article II, section 3.
"All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."
Article I, Section I
the President has the ability to offer Executive Orders that act with the full force of law, without Congressional approval.
So what does this all mean?
It means that we have a set of rules. We live by them, and our elected officials must govern by them, and they are found...
IN THE CONSTITUTION
Article IV makes claim:
That the States can create their own laws, and must respect each other's decisions and sovereignty. And that any persons fleeing from justice from one state shall be surrendered back to that state.
That if a state law is passed in contradiction to Federal Law, then Federal Law wins.
Two very interesting aspects of the Constitution entail Articles IV and VI
Let's look at two examples...
Slavery, and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Slavery plagued the US since the birth of the nation, oftentimes conflicting with the principles of the founding of the country. Eventually, with continuous compromise and conflict, the Civil War made a decision mandatory.
For years, some states allowed it, while others tried to ban it.
With the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, slavery was officially abolished. No state would be allowed to have slavery at all.
Why was this necessary? Couldn't the states have resolved the issue on their own?
The Constitution, therefore, was not only a binding agreement between states, but a tool for people to be able to appeal to a higher power if the belief existed that states were abusing their powers over their people.
Let's take a look at a three tiered problem.
Let's say a homosexual couple gets married in one state.
But another state doesn't acknowledge same sex marriages.
Can the Federal Government force the states to allow same sex unions?
June 5th, 2013, Snowden, a former Central Intelligence Agency employee and National Security Agency contractor, began releasing secret documents to the public concerning surveillance programs by the US government.
The amount of files he has released easily rests in the millions. And documented surveillance on US people as well as foreign allies.
Some of the evidence showed the US collected cell phone metadata and monitored internet data.
In other words, texts you sent may have been read by the government, and where you looked online was also seen.
Public response ranged from calling him a hero to calling for him to be tried and hanged.
Here are two perspectives:
Snowden leaked information about how the surveillance community was spying on its own subjects and their allies, something the public didn't know, and that the government was not checking its own powers.
Snowden's leaks have revealed to our enemies the processes that we use to gather information, and thus have placed many American's lives at stake.
In small groups. What do YOU think?
In other words, Article VI states:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made under the Authority fo the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land..."
So, if the states couldn't agree, we needed a rule to be able to create a final say.
The US Constitution would be that rule.
All members of government, state and federal, are bound by oath to this Constitution.
The collection of essays were written and published from 1787-1788 in several New York State newspapers.
85 were written, outlining how the government would work, and how this type was the best choice.
They were all signed "Publius", but the authors were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.
Alexander Hamilton was a congressman from New York, and became first Secretary of the Treasure for the United States.
He was involved in a duel with then Vice President Aaron Burr, who shot and killed Hamilton. Burr was never tried.
James Madison, a Virginian representative, kept notes on the Constitutional Convention, and provides a very detailed account of the arguments made during the Convention.
Madison would become the 4th President of the United States.
John Jay was a New York Representative to the Continental Congress.
He would become the country's first Chief Justice.
The "Defense of Marriage Act", or "DOMA" was legislation created to ensure that the states did not have to recognize same sex marriages legal in other states.
It also prevented the Federal Government from giving benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
Eventually, on June 26th, 2013, Section 3 was determined to be the only part that was unconstitutional.
It was argued that DOMA denied same-sex couples over 1,100 protections that "straight" couples enjoy, and that this was discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. But only on the Federal level.
On February 14th of 2014, a company called "Groupon," which gives out coupons and special deals online, submitted a press release that said:
"Starting tomorrow, Groupon will be kicking off Presidents Day weekend by giving customers 10 dollars off 40 dollars when they purchase a deal for any local business. The $10 bill, as everyone knows, features President Alexander Hamilton-- undeniably one of our greatest presidents and most widely recognized for establishing the country's financial system."
Problem was... Hamilton was never President.
When this was pointed out by a consumer, the company responded,
"We respect everyone's beliefs. You're certainly entitled to your opinion."
After his burial around Chapel Hill, some people wanted to bring his body back to Durham...
"The body was dug up June 27, 1933, with accompanying ceremony before a crowd of hundreds at Antioch Church. S.B. Turrentine, president of Greensboro College and a native of southwest Orange County, gave the principal address; there was also a remembrance by Mebane Edwards, who had attended Durham's funeral as a 10-year-old slave.
"Durham's grave had never been marked, but had been located when the movement to move it got serious a few years before (in the early 1930's). Sure enough, excavators found the iron coffin with a small glass plate through which the doctor's features were clearly visible perfectly preserved, along with his bow tie, high collar, pleated shirt and gold-rimmed spectacles."
"Dr. Durham never got married ... Dr. Durham was a fine man and when he was sober, he was strong and courageous. ..."
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure 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.
On February 13th, 2016, while on a vacation in Texas,
Justice Scalia was often a controversial Justice.
A conservative, he was a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, opposed abortion, and had written that gay marriage was a "threat to democracy," though he felt that marriage should be decided by people, not courts.
How are Supreme Court, and Federal judges, determined?
They are appointed by the President. Then, the Senate has to confirm.
Do you see any potential issues?
In the President's last year in office, a Conservative judge has died, and being a progressive/liberal, Obama now has the ability to appoint a Justice who may have the same thoughts as he does, and perhaps in conflict with Conservative beliefs.
The school district has created a new policy in which students have a say in teachers that are hired.
You have 2 choices-
One who loves coaching sports and hates to give homework.
One who hates sports and feels homework should be given for every day.
Who would you hire, and why?
You'd probably want to hire the teacher who best suited your likes and dislikes.
The Supreme Court can be like that, too.
Laws that go before the Supreme Court are typically discussed about the law's Constitutionality.
So, if a law is passed, people disagree, it may be challenged, and the fight may go all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Laws are interpreted by people. And people have different perspectives.
Let's say that a company would not allow a person to be hired if that person didn't believe in the same religion as the owners of the company.
Would that be illegal?
Some people would say it shouldn't be.
For the record, it is illegal.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers with at least 15 employees, as well as employment agencies and unions, from discriminating in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It also prohibits retaliation against persons who complain of discrimination or participate in an EEO investigation. With respect to religion, Title VII prohibits:
treating applicants or employees differently based on their religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – in any aspect of employment, including recruitment, hiring, assignments, discipline, promotion, and benefits (disparate treatment);
subjecting employees to harassment because of their religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – or because of the religious practices or beliefs of people with whom they associate (e.g., relatives, friends, etc.);
denying a requested reasonable accommodation of an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – if an accommodation will not impose more than a de minimis cost or burden on business operations; 1 and,
retaliating against an applicant or employee who has engaged in protected activity, including participation (e.g., filing an EEO charge or testifying as a witness in someone else’s EEO matter), or opposition to religious discrimination (e.g., complaining to human resources department about alleged religious discrimination).
And if that person could, through the Constitution, make an argument and convinced others, a law could be made or upheld to allow it. And, if that person was on the Supreme Court...
Prior to Scalia's death, the Supreme Court was in a 5-4 Conservative slant.
Obama can appoint a more progressive judge, making the court "liberal" for the first time in years.
ONLY if the Senate approves...
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” - Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, R-KY
“Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.”- Elizabeth Warren, D-MA
How can this now affect the current Presidential Campaign between Democrats and Republicans?