Public Law - Separation of Powers II - USA - the 'Model'

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 13-11-20 03:05
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  • Separation of Powers II - USA - the 'Model'
    • Constitution of US firmly based on presenting separation of powers between different branches of state
      • One of aims of framers of US constitution was to avoid dominance of executive, which was one of problems perceived with UK constitution
    • Executive branch
      • Made up of President, Vice President, members of President's Cabinet and various government departments and agencies
      • Under constitutional duty to ensure 'laws faithfully executed'
      • Members of executive  cannot not also be members of Congress
        • means no overlap in personnel between executive and legislative branches of state.
      • Neither President nor his advisers may sit in Congress, or take  part in Congressional votes and debates
        • Minor exception
          • Vice President is President of Senate and allowed to vote to break tie
      • President
        • cannot sit in Congress or vote on legislation
        • sets legislative agenda as head of Federal Government
          • done each January in 'State of Union' address, outlines areas he hopes Congress will legislate
        • Has right to veto legislation passed by Congress
          • Congress may override with specified majority vote
      • President
        • Commander-in-chief of armed forces but cannot make declaration of war
        • Nominates judges to become members of Supreme Court
        • May serve maximum of two-four year terms of office
        • May be impeached (ie removed from office) by Congress for acts of 'treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors'
    • Legislative branch
      • Congress consists of Senate and House of Representatives
      • Senate
        • Made up of two members from each state
        • Senators
          • Subject to election every six years
          • One-third of senators being elected  in every two-year cycle.
        • Must ratify President's nominations for members of Cabinet, Supreme Court judges, and for all other federal judges; international treaties must be ratified here
      • House of Representatives
        • 435 members
        • Number of members from each state determined by population of state
        • All members subject to election every two years
      • Congress
        • controls federal budget and is responsible for enacting legislation
        • If President vetoes legislation which has been passed by Congress, Congress may override with two-thirds majority
        • Congress may impeach President, Vice President and Judges of Supreme court for 'treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors
          • e.g. In 1974, Nixon served 'articles of impeachment'
            • Resigned before trial could take place
      • Congress
        • May amend constitution with two-thirds majority (together with support of 3/4 of individual states
        • Has power to declare war
    • Judicial branch
      • Made up of various federal courts, but particularly Supreme Court
      • Supreme Court
        • Function to settle disputes arising under law and constitutions of USA
        • Judges nominated by President but must be approved b Senate
        • Judges hold office until die or retire or impeached by Congress
        • May strike down either actions of executive or legislation enacted by Congress
          • If such actions or legislation are unconstitutional
        • Marbury v Madison (1803)
          • Supreme Court affirmed doctrine of judicial review, establishing courts' authority to declare unconstitutional acts of legislative or executive branches of state
        • Played pivotal role in development and interpretation of US constitution
          • e.g. Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
            • Supreme Court outlawed segregated schools in landmark decision that gave rise to civil rights movement.


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