Checks and balances

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  • Checks on each tier of government
    • Checks by executive on legislature
      • President recommends legislation to congress at State if Union Address
      • President can veto bills by congress
        • Bush vetoed 11 times during his presidency
        • Bush vetoed Medicare improvement for patients and providers acts 2008
    • Checks by legislature on judiciary
      • Propose constitutional amendments to overturn decision in supreme court
        • attempted by unsuccessful in reversing supreme court decision on flag burning
    • Checks by executive on judiciary
      • The president nominates all federal judges
        • During his first term, Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan
      • The president has the power to pardon
        • In 1974, Ford Pardoned Nixon after Watergate
        • Obama has only pardoned 52 people
    • Checks by judiciary on legislature
      • Judicial review means court can declare act of congress unconstitutional
        • Precedent set at Madison vs. Marbury 1803
        • Held 176 acts of congress unconstitutional
        • Declared federal income tax unconstitutional Pollock vs. Farmers Loan & Trust Co 1895
          • Led to 16th amendment
    • Checks by judiciary on executive
      • Same power of judicial review on executive branch
        • 1974 USA vs. Richard Nixon- court declared Nixon to hand over tapes.
        • Hamdan vs. Rumsfield 2006 military comminnions set up at Guantanamo Bay unconstitutinal
  • Roosevelt pardoned 3,682 people
    • The president has the power to pardon
      • In 1974, Ford Pardoned Nixon after Watergate
      • Obama has only pardoned 52 people
  • Checks by legislature on executive
    • Checks on each tier of government
      • Checks by executive on legislature
        • President recommends legislation to congress at State if Union Address
        • President can veto bills by congress
          • Bush vetoed 11 times during his presidency
          • Bush vetoed Medicare improvement for patients and providers acts 2008
      • Checks by legislature on judiciary
        • Propose constitutional amendments to overturn decision in supreme court
          • attempted by unsuccessful in reversing supreme court decision on flag burning
      • Checks by executive on judiciary
        • The president nominates all federal judges
          • During his first term, Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan
      • Checks by judiciary on legislature
        • Judicial review means court can declare act of congress unconstitutional
          • Precedent set at Madison vs. Marbury 1803
          • Held 176 acts of congress unconstitutional
          • Declared federal income tax unconstitutional Pollock vs. Farmers Loan & Trust Co 1895
            • Led to 16th amendment
      • Checks by judiciary on executive
        • Same power of judicial review on executive branch
          • 1974 USA vs. Richard Nixon- court declared Nixon to hand over tapes.
          • Hamdan vs. Rumsfield 2006 military comminnions set up at Guantanamo Bay unconstitutinal
    • Congress can amend, block or reject items of legislation recommend by president
      • 1993-94 Clinton's healthcare reforms block
    • Congress can override president's veto is 2/3 majority in both houses
      • Bush's Medicare improvement for patients and providers act 2008
        • House 383-41 and Senate 70-26
    • Senate can ratify treaties negotiated by president with 2/3 majority
    • Impeach member of executive with simple majority in House and 2/3 in Senate to remove
      • Clinton was impeached in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice but senate found not guilty
  • Congress has the power of the purse- must vote for where more is spent
    • Checks by legislature on executive
      • Congress can amend, block or reject items of legislation recommend by president
        • 1993-94 Clinton's healthcare reforms block
      • Congress can override president's veto is 2/3 majority in both houses
        • Bush's Medicare improvement for patients and providers act 2008
          • House 383-41 and Senate 70-26
      • Senate can ratify treaties negotiated by president with 2/3 majority
      • Impeach member of executive with simple majority in House and 2/3 in Senate to remove
        • Clinton was impeached in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice but senate found not guilty
    • Foreign assistance Act 1974 congress cut military funding for government of S Vietman
  • In 2007 congress tried to limit Bush's military spending on Iraq
    • Congress has the power of the purse- must vote for where more is spent
      • Foreign assistance Act 1974 congress cut military funding for government of S Vietman
  • Congress can declare war
    • Not been used since 1941 on Japan
      • Congress can declare war
      • 1999 senate rejected comprehensive test ban treaty 48-51
        • Confirm appointments made by president with simple majority
          • 1987 Robert Bork rejected 42-58
        • Power of impachment
          • 2012 Thomas Porteous was guilty of corruption and removed
        • Importance of checks and balances
          • More effective government
            • Bills scrutinised more closely
            • Nominees questioned more rigorously
            • Encourages bipartisanship and compromise
          • Gridlock
            • Washington 2012 Congress failed to agree on funds for fiscal year- shut down for 16 days
            • More likely with divided government but Clinton suffered gridlock with healthcare reforms despite united government
              • Also more likely with polarisation of parties and rise of tea party
                • Washington 2012 Congress failed to agree on funds for fiscal year- shut down for 16 days
            • So checks and balances makes for a less effective government
          • Divided government
            • 47 years between 1969 and 2015 have seen 25 years of divided government
            • For only 12 years did one party control presidency
            • Lichl argues this is better as more scrutiny to ensure effective government
        • Compared to UK
          • UK has fewer checks and balances as overlap of powers
          • Party with the most MPs in government has too much power to influence law
          • USA has separated powers no this is needed to stop tyranny and executive having too much power
            • Are powers 'shared'- Neustadt?
              • Different branches need to cooperate to make progress

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