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The Constitution and Federalism
Before the Constitution
1776: The 13 colonies of North America declared their independence
from Britain in the Declaration of Independence (written by Thomas
1776 ­ 1783: This led to the War of Independence between the former
colonies and Great Britain
1781: Articles of Confederation were…

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The US Constitution ­ The Three Compromises
Writing the new Constitution involved making three major compromises
embodied in the new Constitution:

The Form of Government: In Britain, colonies had been ruled under a
unitary form of government where all power rested with central
government. Colonists disliked this and preferred the…

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Ratification: can be made by ¾ of the state legislatures or by ¾ of the
states holding a Constitutional Convention (only been used once ­ to
ratify the 21th Amendment 1933)

Amendments proposed by: Amendments ratified by:
Congress ­ Two-thirds majority in State legislatures ­ Three-quarters of
both houses required…

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Separation of Powers
This is a theory of government by which power is divided between three
branches of government with each acting both independently and
interdependently. The French philosopher Montesquieu influenced the theory.

Better understood in the USA as a theory for shared powers: the institutions
are separate while the…

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Checks & Balances In Action

Executive on the Legislature:

Recommend legislation ­ State of the Union Address outlines the
president's legislative agenda. Bush used his address in 2002 to try and get
Congress to focus on his "war on terror"
Veto legislation ­ Bush used the veto 11 times. Vetoed…

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Importance of Checks and Balances

Checks balances encourage bipartisanship and compromise between the
president and Congress. Only when both branches work together can laws be
passed, treaties ratified, appointments confirmed and budgets fixed:

Bush successfully passed his education reforms in 2001-02 because he
worked with leading Democrats such as Senator…

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These changes during the latter part of the 19th century and the 20th
century led to an increased role for the federal government. However,
during the latter part of the 20th century there was a move in the opposite
direction as American's wanted to see more power devolved to the…

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Federalism Under George W. Bush

Despite Bush being a Republican president who you would expect to favour
decentralisation and states' rights, Bush expanded the role of the federal
government for five particular reasons:

1. The War in Iraq
2. Homeland security issues after 9/11
3. The expansion of Medicare


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