Branches of US government

branches of govt plus separtaion of pwers and key cases


Executive branch - role etc ;)

  • Headed by president
  • who? cabinet depts and federal civil service etc
  • What?! formulates and proposes bills to congress, executes laws and spends federal budget (voted for by congress), responsible for day to day US govt through depts of states, can veto bills passed by congress which they object to!!!
  • Electorial college system used to elect P
  • Origonally: not supposed to legislation beyond "time to time", but since President Rooservelt in 1930's become source of program for measures passed to Congress
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Executive branch (checks and balances)

  • President can veto bills passed by congress: hard for congress to overide veto - need 2/3 majority!!! Clinton only over riden 2/36
  • Bush not use veto in first term; 11 times after!!! e.g. funding stemcell research, expand govt child health care when congress tried to link it to a phrased wthdrawl from Iraq
  • Consitution: "from time to time" > since Rooservelt modern president main source of leglisation, proposals and and policy reform!!! e.g. Bush jr medicare reform for elderly, radical tax cut program, patriot act. Obama; economic stimulus package and health care reform.
  • nominate large number of posts in executive, ambassadors and judicary!!! :D
  • examples: Clinton: Breyer and Ginsburg (2 supreme court justices), Bush Jr: John Roberts, samuel alito, Obama: sonia sotomayer
  • P is 'commandor in chief' - can use such powers extensivly at times!!! e.g. Bush send troops to Afghanistan and Iraq!!! > can get around need for treaty ratification by congress with "executive agreements" > in effect TEMPOARY treaty!!!
  • P can pardon all ths found guilty of fed. crimes except those impeached, Nixon pardoned by his succesor Gerald Ford, Clinton: escape military cons V. war
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Legislative Brach: Congress

  • 2 chambers: HOR and senate
  • election: House (2 years entirety, districts), Senators (6 years, thirds - 100 total)
  • 2 senators per state regardless of population
  • congress viewed as most impoartant by F. fathers - make fed. laws and pass budget!!! (no law and money passed without assent of congress)
  • sole law making powers; override vet 2/3 majority - Bush 4 times!!! > unpopulaity
  • P budget and proposals for legislation msut be passed by congress; Reagan, Bush sr and clinton all had budget reject 0 compromise!!!
  • president proposals defeats: Carter (energy bill), Clinton (healthcare reform), Bush Jr: ( mineral drilling alaskan wilderness and social security reform)
  • Party unity less strong but congres may have own program esp if controlled by opp - dem 2006: raise minumn wage, stem cell research, phrase withdrwal from Iraq
  • Must approve P nom: but rejection = infrequent, Robert Bork (extreme conservative to S. court, Reagan), John Twower (link to arm manufacturs, sec defence, Bush sr) John Bolton (embassador to UN, conservative critic)
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Executive branch (checks and balances)

  • can only declare war done so only 5 times although US involved in other 200 conflicts)can impeach or remove from office president senate and other senior judical holders. Find if case to answer and responsible for prosecuting!!!
  • President can be impreached for high crimes and misdeameanours" Johnson impeached but survive trial by one vote, Nixon avoid trial and certain conviction by resignation, clinton impeached but survived trial by majority in his favour)
  • 2/3 in both chambers needed to pass consitutional ammendments. 27 ammendments. Recent failed attempt: attempt to ba flag burning!!!
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Judical branch (headed by supreme court)

  • includes all Fed judges appointed for life
  • Supreme court of appeal is highest court of appeal in USA and highest authority on US constitution > court applies and interprets it as well as laws passed by congress > decisions not challenged
  • review actions of other branches of government, is challenged to be unconsitutional in courts (power of judical review) > can strike down such actions and laws if they deem them to be unconstitutional in courts > power of judical review!!!
  • recent examples: 1990's school gun free zones act, communications decency act, state laws: abortion bans (Roe v Wade), racial segregation in schools (brown v board of education), burning of US flag in public protest as publc protest (texas v Johnson 1988), execute mentaly incapicated of murder (Aitkens V Virginia, juvineiles convicted of murder in 2005 Roper V Simmons, 2009 Citezens United v FEC
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