Government, Chapter 3 The Constitution A Blueprint for Government 3.1 Think about governing after a revolution • Colonists fought to secure rights • Now they want to create a government that protects those rights AND at the same time is strong enough to maintain order and enforce laws “where there is no law, there is no freedom” - Locke Goals of the Constitution Text pg 69 The new government needed to • Raise an army • Pay its bills • Conduct relations with foreign countries Framers’ solution • Create governing document (The Constitution) • Divide, distribute, and balance governmental power • Make government power subject to will of the people • Bill of Rights (1791) • Placed specific restraints on power of government • Government cannot violate basic rights of citizens The 3 main parts of the Constitution • Preamble—states broad goals • The seven articles—create structure of the U.S. government • The amendments—27 changes added during the nation’s history Basic principles see text page 70 Popular Sovereignty: Government gets its authority from the people • Ultimate political power remains with the people • Each election is chance for citizens to exercise sovereignty • Elected leaders work for you; can vote to “fire” elected officials when you step into voting booth • Citizens have obligation to vote wisely; choose leaders after thoughtful deliberation Popular Sovereignty continued… A Republican Form Of Government • Citizens did not have unlimited power • Not a direct democracy • Placed constitutional limits on popular sovereignty (ie restricting how the Constitution can be amended) • Elected leaders represent broad and diverse group of citizens with competing interests • Tend toward factions with broad interests, not narrowly partisan ones Popular Sovereignty continued… James Madison’s concern: factions Faction: a group of citizens united by common interest • Could be minority or majority • Might act in a way that hurt the rights of other citizens or the interests of the nation Limited Government: The principle that powers and functions of government are restricted • aka rule of law —idea that every member of society must obey the law • Most Americans opposed too much government control of business or private activities • Framers felt limited government promoted goals, protected individual rights The principle of limited government is spread throughout the Constitution • The list of powers is long, but the powers not listed are excluded • Powers are explicitly denied • Bill of Rights a safeguard Separation of Power: The powers of government are divided among the legislative, executive and judicial branches See chart on page 72 Separation of Powers: Ensures that the powers of government are not concentrated in the hands of a few officials or agencies • Article I: Creates and empowers Congress –the lawmaking body of the nation • Article II: Establishes duties of the executive branch –the president, the vice-president, and the many executive departments • Article III: Establishes the judicial branch • Exercises the judicial power of the United States; interprets and applies the law Checks and Balances Each branch of government has the power to change or cancel acts of another branch Congress checks the Executive • by controlling taxes and spending • can reject nominations; approve treaties • Congress is given power to declare war; limits president’s power Executive branch checks and balances • Has the power to veto, or reject, legislation • Threat of veto sometimes sufficient to push revision of legislation so it has better chance of getting signed • President can exercise veto power • However the Presidents veto is limited • Congress can override veto with two-thirds majority of both houses • If Congress can muster enough votes, the bill passes The Judicial Branch checks and balances • Judicial branch can declare acts unconstitutional—the power of judicial review • Federal judges given lifetime terms; insulated from undue political influence Judicial review is balanced: • President has power to make federal judicial nominations • Congress has power to approve all federal judicial nominations Court Packing Presidential frustrations - Famous example of annoyance at Supreme Court in 1930s • President Franklin Roosevelt convinced Congress to pass measures to combat the Great Depression • Court declared some measures to be unconstitutional • Roosevelt responded by introducing legislation to reorganize the federal judiciary • increase the size of the Court by adding new justices –larger Supreme Court with favorable majority Court Packing continued… • Critics accused Roosevelt of trying to change balance of power with “court-packing” plan • Plan never implemented • In second term, Roosevelt able to replace five of the Supreme Court justices; gained a sympathetic majority which upheld New Deal programs, including Social Security Judicial Review • The power to determine whether actions of legislative and judicial branch are constitutional • Any law or government action (federal or state) found to violate a part of the Constitution is said to be unconstitutional • act deemed illegal and cannot be enforced or carried out by the government Judicial review not mentioned in Constitution • Writers of Federalist Papers made it clear courts were to have such power • an independent judiciary would serve as precaution against one branch becoming predominant over the others • In 1803 the Supreme Court established the principle of judicial review with the landmark case Marbury v. Madison Federalism • The powers of government are distributed between the national government and state governments • Federalism provided the basis of compromise at the Philadelphia Convention between supporters of a strong national government and those delegates who favored retaining state traditions and local power. How Federalism Works • National and state governments share power over the same group of people. • Local governments are units of the states. • Each level of government has its own powers and responsibilities, but often their spheres overlap. • Every citizen of the U.S. must obey both federal laws and the laws of his or her state. • Citizens may also vote for their representatives in both state and federal elections. The Constitutional Basis of Federalism Supremacy Clause (Article VI) • Asserts the authority of the national government over the states • The Constitution, national laws, and treaties made by the national government should be held as the supreme law of the U.S. • In cases of discrepancy, federal laws usually supersede state laws Enumerated Powers (Article 1, section 8) • Powers granted to the national government, and specifically to Congress Tenth Amendment • Grants all powers not specifically reserved for the national government to the states • Often cited in arguments in favor of state’s rights Does the Constitution protect your right of privacy? • Loose Construction: The Constitution does not explicitly mention such a right, but many people argue that the Constitution and Bill of Rights, when read as a whole, protect an implied right of privacy. • Strict construction: argue that the Constitution should be read literally: The words on the page mean exactly—and only—what they say. When the Constitution is read strictly, people argue, it is improper to protect a broad right to privacy An Enduring Document 3.2 Amending the Constitution Jefferson’s views Madison’s views • Jefferson felt Constitution should • Madison felt laws and not be changed on a whim but constitutions grow in authority could be changed as society and and acceptance the longer they go circumstances changed unchanged • Believed in each generation as “a • Worried that changing distinct nation,” with the right to Constitution too often could split govern itself but not to bind the country into factions succeeding generations • Feared sectional rivalry would leave the nation prey to foreign powers and influence • Madison feared periods of chaos might occur between periods of revision •Original Constitution a product of its time – Reflects wisdom and biases of the Framers; relatively few changes in over 220 years – Survived the Civil War, presidential assassinations, and economic crises to become world’s oldest written constitution •Original document not perfect – Perpetuated injustices with compromises permitting slavery and the slave trade – States given power to set qualifications for voting; women, nonwhites, and poor people denied right to vote – Decisions reflected societal attitudes of the times •Ability to incorporate changing ideas of freedom and liberty keeps document relevant to each new generation since 1789 The Amendment Process • Gives Americans the power to change the Constitution • Is difficult in order to prevent momentary passions and prejudices of the majority from violating the rights of the rest of the citizens The Amendment Process continued… Article V describes process for amending the Constitution • States that amendments must first be proposed, then ratified, or approved • Provides two ways of proposing and two ways of ratifying • Two-step process required ratification by the states • restricted power of Congress to change the Constitution • Ensured that any change would reflect national will • Supported principle of popular sovereignty Supermajority required •Each step in process requires supermajority—a majority that is larger than a simple majority •Difficult process would weed out frivolous amendments Facts • All of the amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by Congress • Required number of states for a national convention has been nearly reached twice • Convention supporters have never persuaded the last few needed states Changing the Constitution Difficult • More than 10,000 attempts have been suggested or proposed • Only 33 amendments have been passed by Congress and sent to states for ratification • 27 amendments have been adopted • 6 have been rejected Rise and Fall of Prohibition Eighteenth Amendment • 1917: Responding to public demand, Congress proposed amendment • 1919: Enough state legislatures had ratified the proposal to make it the Eighteenth Amendment; but drinking alcohol not banned Prohibition unpopular • Lucrative trade in illegal alcohol; led to organized crime, political corruption, and violence • Groups of citizens led movement for reform; used many of same arguments Twenty-first Amendment • Congress responded to new reform movement • Proposed to repeal prohibition and to give states power to regulate transportation and distribution of alcoholic beverages • This was the only time the method of ratification by state conventions of delegates elected specifically to vote on the issue used • 36 states ratified within the year • Amendment XVIII was repealed by Amendment XXI Amendments The Bill of Rights was designed to protected specific individual freedoms 1st Amendment • The right to practice religion freely, protects freedom of expression, and the right to ask the government to correct injustices • Restrictive; declares what federal government may not do • Intended to guarantee individual’s exercise of certain basic freedoms The Bill of Rights continued… 2nd gives right to bear arms 3rd prohibits government from forcing citizens to quarter, or shelter, military troops in their homes 4th protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures of private property 5th & 6th guarantee due process of law; no self- incrimination; right to a speedy trial and the right to an attorney 7th – 10th protect rights or powers that belong to the states and to the people The Other Amendments • After Civil War amendments passed to ban slavery, to recognize all African Americans as U.S. citizens, and to give African American men various rights, including the right to vote • Not often enforced from 1877 to 1965 in the South; Jim Crow laws put into effect • Vigorous social reform; prohibition came and went • Popular election of senators; women granted right to vote • Constitution provides stable, flexible government Applying the Constitution 3.3 How have the three branches of government applied the Constitution? Legislative Branch • Expanded the justice system •Section 1, Article III created the Supreme Court; Congress authorized to create “such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish” •With Judiciary Act of 1789 created system of lower- level federal courts • Created the executive departments and agencies • Expanded law into new areas Executive Branch • Applied law through executive agreements • Agencies adopt rules to implement laws Executive Agreements • Presidents make executive agreements –agreements with foreign leaders or foreign governments • A treaty has to be ratified by the Senate; an executive agreement has the same force but does not have to be ratified • Power not found in Constitution text; derived from acknowledged constitutional powers • Executive agreements important to conducting foreign policy; can bypass long, formal treaty process Judicial Branch • Judicial Review • Judicial Interpretation • Modern-day cases a challenge • “Unreasonable searches and seizures” in an era of airport screening devices, cell phones, and wireless Internet access • Courts must interpret the Fourth Amendment in light of changing conditions; judges to apply the Constitution’s prohibitions to new technologies. How have political parties, customs, and traditions changed how the Constitution is applied? Political Parties • Political party—an organized group that seeks to win elections in order to influence the activities of government • Parties help determine the choice of candidates, policies, and programs presented to the voters • Parties also help shape the judicial branch; deeply affect how government operates Legacy of Political Movements • Populists supported bank regulation; government regulation of railroads; unlimited coinage of silver; direct election of senators • Progressives took same causes as Populists; helped the urban poor • Federal government regulated banks, food and drug safety, railroads, and business monopolies • Now have PACs, online political commentators, and bloggers Customs and Traditions strongly influence how American government behaves • Constitution authorizes the president to “require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments” • Washington relied on language in Article II to create a cabinet—a group of advisers consisting of the heads of the executive departments; in time tradition of cabinet and cabinet meetings born Some traditions have become law • No president served more than two terms in office until Roosevelt broke with tradition with third and fourth terms as president in the 1940s • Many Americans concerned; Congress passed the Twenty-second Amendment • Presidents limited to two terms, formalizing the custom that began with Washington Criticisms of the Constitution • Imperfections: Brevity, insight, and flexibility commands respect • Gridlock: Inability to govern effectively due to separation of powers. Can bring government to a standstill. • Representation: Constitution falls short of truly representative democracy (i.e. states with small populations have far more relative influence than residents of states with large populations) • Electoral College: the body of 538 people elected from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Critics point to the fact that the winner of the popular vote may not win the presidency Winner-Take-All Elections • Winner-take-all system: the candidate in each district who receives the most votes wins the seat. • Proportional representation: seats in the legislature are given to each party according to the percentage of the total votes they win, giving less popular parties a voice. • The proportional system allows a larger variety of viewpoints to be represented, but also leads to fractured legislatures with many small parties • The American system allows the party with the most support to govern.