Unit 3c America. Politcs a2

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Background to the constitution
1787 Philadelphia convention 55 founding fathers
met to review system of govt set up in 1776 by
declaration of independence
The confederation had been set up keeping in mind
that it had to be very different from the British
system, without a monarch like figure. Limited
federal power to stop this & protect the liberties of
It only had a legislature, but central govt was to weak
& failed to even simply unite the country
Challenges of producing a constitution Powers of the Federal government (1) ­ article 1
Ensuring central govt was strong enough to be able Congress
to deal with problems & unite the country but weak Article one is on the legislature, they intended for this
enough to stop a monarch like figure emerging. to be the main policy making body of govt not the
Stopping larger states controlling smaller states
Prohibited them from passing ex post facto laws that
Federalists ­ central govt should have adequate punished someone for a crime they had committed
power before the law had been created
Anti ­ Federalists ­ protecting people from govt
Gave the elasticity clause to pass any laws that
Both agreed it needed more power but how much were necessary & proper to fulfil its role.
was the issue. Federalists gained more in the
convention but anti federalists clawed back during
ratification by states
Powers of the Federal government (2) ­ article 2 Powers of the Federal government (3) article 3
Executive Supreme Court
Gave him the state of union address in which he can Only specified that the court should e created & the
recommend what he deems necessary in his types of cases it should hear, as well as how its
judgement. judges were to be appointed
Implementing laws that congress makes, appointing
ambassadors negotiating treaties & commander in
chief (foreign policy), selecting heads of
departments (put laws into force)

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Safeguards on Federal Government power (1) Safeguards on Federal Government power (2)
Federalism Separation of powers
Limiting federal govt as a whole increasing its Keeping the three branches separate in order to
power, individual states were to take care of all other stop them working together & becoming too
matters not outlined in the constitution, although powerful
there was a federal government states still had
powers over many issues Bicameralism
As congress was the most powerful branch, it had
Dual federalism ­ both work on…read more

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The constitution
Federalism was set out in the constitution as a
safeguard against Federal Govt becoming too
powerful. However many parts were left vague &
therefore the Supreme Court has had to interpret
The 'necessary & proper' & the supremacy clause
gives federal govt a huge amount of power. But the
10th Amendment limits powers to those in the
constitution.…read more

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A history of Federalism Dual federalism
The relationship between states & federal govt When the constitution was written it was intended
dramatically changed after WW2 & the New Deal, for the states & federal govt to exercise separate
the economy had failed & states simply did not have powers
resources to deal with the problem. Federal Federal foreign affairs national defence & all
government had to step in this was again seen with interstate matters( such as trade)
LBJ's "Great society plan.…read more

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Guardians of the Constitution
All federal & state laws, including state constitutions,
& those responsible for implementing it, i.e. the
president, congressmen, governors, etc. Must
comply with the constitution
There needed to be a provision to deal with claims
that something was unconstitutional, yet the
founding fathers did not mention it anywhere.
The constitution is a legal document hence logically
the most senior judges should deal with it.…read more

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Judicial activism Judicial restraint
Rights have to apply to everyone & in a meaningful Any decision that prohibits or enforces actions ought
way according to that time to be made by elected politicians who are
accountable to the people, this is what the founding
Protecting the minorities that do not make a fathers intended
difference to the elected politicians as they don't
have voting power Refuse to hear the case & pass it to congress
Protecting rights is too important to wait for Respect laws…read more

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Protecting people's rights, often going against Conformations ­ after a public announcement the
elected policy senate votes.…read more

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Importance of Congress
When the founding fathers wrote the constitution
congress was deemed the most important &
powerful body. It had existed in the articles of
confederation before the other two were created.
Policy was to be made collectively by all the states,
so there had to be a body where they were all
represented. In order to stop a monarch like figure
emerging.…read more

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Legislative role of congress (3) Legislative role of congress (4)
Debate by the full chamber ­ differs significantly Conference committee ­ the two versions of the
between both houses. bill from the two chambers need to be harmonised.…read more

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Importance of political parties (1) Importance of political parties (1)
The speaker (Nancy Pelosi) Votes by the full chamber
In the HOR the speaker is the most important Votes have become extremely partisan over the
person and is voted for by the party that has the years. When Obama came to power he invited the
majority of seats.…read more


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