GovPol - Constitution (1)

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Codified Constitution
Constitutions which are set down in a single source
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Entrenched Constitution
Constitutions which cannot be altered or change without special safeguarding arrangements or amendment processes
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The legislature consists of two chambers
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What were the Articles of Confederation?
The document which expressed colonist's discontent with British authoritarian rule which they described as oppressive behaviour
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What was the primary aim of the Articles of Confederation?
To protect the rights of the 13 states and create only a weak national government
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What did the federalists want/believe?
A strong government which would filter the views of the common man through an expert and knowledgable body of chosen citizens
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Article I
The powers of Congress
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Article II
The powers of the President
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Article III
The powers of the judiciary
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Article IV
The relationship between states and between the federal government and states
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Article V
Amendment process
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Article VI
The constitution and the laws of the US 'shall be the supreme Law of the Land'
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Article VII
Process of Ratification
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The accumulation of all power in the same hands 'may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny'
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What are separation of powers?
A theory of government whereby political power is distributed among three branches of government acting both independently and interdependently
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What are checks and balances?
A system of government whereby each branch exercises control over the actions of the other branches of government
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Federal government
A form of government whereby some political power rests with the national government but other equally important power rests with the state governments
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What is state representation in the House of Reps?
It is proportional to population in accordance with each state. There are currently 435 members.
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What is state representation in the Senate?
There are two for every state, however, Senators cover much larger areas of representations and their constituencies are often much larger and cover more multiple districts in comparison to Representatives.
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The Bill of Rights
The first 10 Amendments made to the Constitution which cover the fundamental rights/constitutional rights of citizens
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What are the two ways Amendments can be proposed?
1) Through Congressional proposition with a two-thirds majority in favour in both houses 2) National Constitutional Convention called at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures (never been used)
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What two ways can ratification of Amendments be made?
1) By three-quarters of the state legislatures 2) By three-quarters of the states holding a Constitutional Convention (only used once to ratify the 21st Amendment)
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What are the five main reasons the Constitution has been amended so rarely?
1)The Founding Fathers 2) The 'majestic generalities' have allowed evolution 3) Judicial review 4) The reverence of the Constitution 5) The 18th Amend. was repealed 14 years later anyway
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The Declaration of Independence
'...all men are created equal... with certain unalienable rights... among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'
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What was the Philadelphia Convention?
The convention held which framed the constitution, its original purpose was merely to revise the Articles of Confederation, but delegates decided to draft an entirely new document
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How many stages are required in the Amendment process?
Two, these being proposal and ratification
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What happens after an amendment has passed the proposal stage?
It goes to the states for ratification. Only 1 has been ratified by state convention and only 6 have failed at the ratification stage in 210 years
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What are constitutional rights?
Fundamental rights set out in the constitution, which must be, by federal, state or local government, protected effectively. The Bill of Rights secures the majority, but 17 later amendments have further enhanced these rights and liberties.
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What is the doctrine of separation of powers?
The theory whereby political power is distributed between the branches equally, acting both independently and interdependently. The theory is better understood (in US) as 'shared powers' as the institutions are separate, but powers are shared by c+b.
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Why did the Founding Fathers use the doctrine of separation of powers in the Constitution?
Due to their fear of tyranny - influenced by Montesquieu who argued it was needed to avoid tyrannical behaviour.
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'When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person... there can be no liberty'
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What did the framers want from the Constitution?
Limited government, to avoid tyranny through sufficient checks on the government and to ensure that no single branch overstepped its role in the federal government
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Limited government
A principle that the size and scope of the federal government should be limited to that which is necessary only for the common good of the people
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Close cooperation between the two major parties. In the US, bipartisanship is thought to be crucial to political success where there maybe be a president and Congress controlled by different parties
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How often are Representatives in the House chosen?
Every two years
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How often is the Senate up for election?
One quarter every 6 years
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A world without government would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short"
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Government originates as an implied contrast among individuals who agree to obey laws in exchange for protection of their rights
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What is Constitutionalism?
Government of the law and not of the people
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Checks and balances are...
Constitutional provisions that limit the powers of the government and it's branches, as well as protecting the rights of the citizens, so that power is not centralised in the hands of a group or individual
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"men aren't angels"
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What did Chris Weigant say about checks and balances?
"major and powerful games of tug-of-war"
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Example of Congress blocking or rejecting legislation
2011, Congress blocked Obama's attempts to bring accused terrorists before courts in the US following the attempts to close Guantanamo Bay prison
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How many times has Congress declared war?
5 times
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Give an example of Obama and his role as Commander-in-chief
Obama has not called for a war in Syria, yet could order military action, which the New York Time described as being "almost unthinkable" ≠ other president's (Bush) who would have acted regardless
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Representatives have threatened to file impeachment charges against Obama if he what?
Uses as executive order in order to curb gun control laws
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The most recent federal judge to be impeached?
Thomas Porteous in March 2010 for repeatedly committing perjury
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Give an example of Congress proposing amendments to overturn a Supreme Court decision?
March 2013 Senator Sanders proposed an Amendment to restore the right of the American people that were taken away in the Citizens United case
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What was in Obama's 2013 State of Union Address?
Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality pre-school to every child in America, yet Republicans have refused to finance such a plan
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How many vetoes has Obama used?
2, one of these being for Interstate Recognition of Notarization Act (2010)
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Franklin Roosevelt used how many vetoes?
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How many pardons has Obama given?
42 between December 2010 and December 2013
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What was one of the biggest rulings with judicial review in 2013
The ruling on gay marriage in June 2013 where the court ruled that married same-se couples were entitled to federal benefits
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John F. Kennedy
"the Constitution makes us not rivals for power, but partners for progress"
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Law are passed treaties ratified, appointments confirmed and budgets fixed only when branches are able to work together
Policy divides reflect increased demographic and ideological divides between the two parties, and could pose an even greater threat in the future
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Growing polarisation is increasingly resulting in an inability of the two parties to reason together on pressing issues
Arguably there are moments as such whereby the checks and balances prove insufficient, i.e. NSA data mining, which was discovered in June 2013
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Obama defended the NSA data mining by saying
"they help [them] to prevent terrorist attacks"
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Checks and balances are enshrined within the Constitution
In 2011, in an attempt to destroy the power of Gaddafi in Libya, Tomahawk missiles were sent, yet Congress could do nothing to stop the president
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What anecdote could you use to describe checks and balances?
A game of rock, paper, scissors
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The American Constitution has withstood the tests of time since the Founding Fathers
The checks and balances surround the protection of liberty and rights of the people it rules over
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"if men were angels, no government would be necessary"
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Constitutions which cannot be altered or change without special safeguarding arrangements or amendment processes


Entrenched Constitution

Card 3


The legislature consists of two chambers


Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4


The document which expressed colonist's discontent with British authoritarian rule which they described as oppressive behaviour


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


To protect the rights of the 13 states and create only a weak national government


Preview of the back of card 5
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